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"How many oak trees to make a ship?" Topic

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Patrice Vittesse Fezian06 Sep 2008 4:29 a.m. PST

I know this is a pretty vague question, but i think its a pretty hard question.
How many oak trees would it take to make a ship? (presuming ships were made principally of oak?)
If we presume a "Ship" to mean a typical 74 ship of the line…

Repiqueone06 Sep 2008 5:03 a.m. PST

The Victory took 6000 Oaks. USS Constitution took 2000. So 3000-4000 for a 74 would seem likely.

Dan Cyr06 Sep 2008 7:40 a.m. PST

Somewhere I've read actually listed out the acres needed to build various sized ships (and they were huge, like 20-70 acres a ship). Sorry I cannot recall the name of it.


NorthWealdPilot06 Sep 2008 11:29 a.m. PST

A large warship would have required about 2,000 oak trees for its construction. The Royal George, a 100-gun ship, launched in 1756, used 2,309 loads (a load being 50 cubic feet) of straight oak and 2,306 loads of compass oak (curved grain). But this was not the whole story.

In his book "The London Hanged", historian Peter Linebaugh cites the jealously-guarded perks allowed to Royal Dockyard workers in the 18th century, which were called "chips". These were pieces of waste wood no more than 3 feet long, which the workers were allowed to remove for their own use.

They were partly used as firewood, but, as Samuel Bentham discovered in 1795 while lodging in Portsmouth, the wood was also used for building staircases, doors, cupboards and furniture in their houses. Some bundles were also sold as a way of supplementing very low wages.

Yeoman Lott also conducted research into wastage involved in taking chips between 1768 and 1770. He found that for a third rate ship of 74 guns, the ratio of waste wood to that actually used to build the ship should have been 4:11. I n actual fact, 60 percent of the timber ordered found its way back outside the dockyard as chips rather than being incorporated into one of His Majesty's warships!

Nails, brass, rope and sailcloth also disappeared in large quantities…

Personal logo Nashville Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2008 6:27 p.m. PST

thus the term: "chip off the old block."

pigbear07 Sep 2008 4:41 a.m. PST

Wouldn't that be 25 percent?

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