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Sewing technique.

Stitch is being fixed in a hole by a treenail, while held tight with the T-shaped tool from the other side. This is starboard gunwale being sewn on this picture. Root is fed trough the holes Root is to be fed through many holes in row;

Sewing technique itself, however long it survived in rural Russia, was nowdays completely lost, and had to be reconstructed. Information sources were following:

  1. Strake fragments from sewn boats with preserved pieces of stitches, found at the place;
  2. Local oral traditions -- old people there remember they saw some wrecks and even usable sewn boats in their childhood;
  3. Archaeological and ethnological literature, such as paper by Christer Westerdahl.
Although the reconstruction can be considered a success -- the boats built were strong and sound and did not leak much, but the real confidence came about only when finishing of the second boat; before that the way of stitching did not completely comply with the way of ancient boatbuilders, (though it was quite practicable and hardly distinguishable by naked eye).

Spruce roots 5-12mm thick and 1-3m long were picked up, cleaned from their bark and immediately submerged into a bucket of tar -- before they got dry and crisp. Too thick root can be easily split lengthwise into halves. Perhaps they were also twisted like withes at this stage, before putting into the tar. (Although the roots usually are flexible enough even without twisting; in this boat most of them were not properly twisted, but split into halves or quarters and often used two-fold;). Then they have to be boiled in the tar , which makes them still more flexible, and, not less important, rot-resistant (as they become completely impregnated with the tar).

The consequence of stitching has several stages (All pictures show sewing of gunwale to the fore part of the boat):

  1. Holes are to be drilled (20Kb)for many stitches in advance;
  2. Grooves to be cut (21Kb) with a knife between the holes;
  3. Root is to be fed through (25Kb) many holes in row;( see also second picture above)
  4. In the first hole it must be wedged by a treenail, hammered (23Kb) into it;
  5. The treenail (it should be made of a dry alder-tree branch) is cut flush with the plank surface (23Kb) with a chisel or a knife;
  6. Then the stitch must be tightened as much as possible by means of a T-shaped wooden tool (23Kb), inserted between the next stitch and the plank surface and working like a lever;
  7. When hold tight, the stitch must be wedged in the next hole (20Kb) by hammering of a next treenail , (also the first picture above on this page);
  8. Now all these stages are to be repeated for the next stitch;



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