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Broad axe acquired by Lars Halvorsen while working in American shipyards, and used to shape the mast for KATHLEEN GILLET during its 1989-1991 restoration

Date: c 1909
Dimensions:
Overall: 625 x 243 x 45 mm, 3553.3 g
Medium: Wood, steel
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Carl Halvorsen
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Axe
Object No: 00044454

User Terms

    Description
    This broad axe was acquired by Lars Halvorsen in about 1909 while he was working in shipyards in the United States of America. It is one of several of his hand tools that were used by several generations of Halvorsen in their family boat building business. Carl Halvorsen used this axe as a teenager while working with his father Lars, and again in 1990 to shape the new mast for KATHLEEN GILLETT during the vessel's restoration at the Halvorsen boatyard at Bobbin Head.
    HistoryThis broad axe was used with an adze, plane and other hand tools to make spars and masts.

    Carl Halvorsen describes the process:

    'A suitable log is selected and set firmly on blocks and the first step is to shape the log into a square section. The centre line is marked by a chalk line. You pull a long fine line through the chalk, stretch it tightly the full length of the log and "twang". All four faces are also marked by a chalk line to the desired dimensions and are then hewn with a broad axe. The first one is done with the aid of a spirit level and the others are made with the aid of a square. With an axe about two feet long with a head of forged steel and a blade about eight inches wide with a curved cutting edge, one stands astride the log and swings the axe between one's legs working along the grain. The axe's offset handle enables the chalk line to be seen as the axe takes the cut. When all faces have been hewn they are planed with a two-man plane.

    The second step is to form an octagonal section. To mark off the log we use a gauge like an inverted "U" with two sharp scribers in the horizontal section. The two vertical parts of the gauge are held firmly against the sides of the log and it is pulled the full length of the mast. The scribers mark the width of one of the octagonal faces, which reduces along the taper. This is done each side of the square. An adze is then used to form the octagonal shape. A draw knife which is a blade with a handle at each end, is held by both hands and pulled along the mast to remove the remaining ridges. The mast is then planed with a long plane, followed by a short plane. Finally the mast is sand-papered. No power tools are used.'

    This axe was used by Carl Halvorsen to shape the mast for KATHLEEN GILLET during the vessel's restoration at the Halvorsen boatyard at Bobbin Head, Sydney, 1989-1991. It was one of several of Lars Halvorsen's hand tools that were used by several generations of Halvorsen in their family boat building business.

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