Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Beetles

When I spied the metal rings tied together by a bit of old string in the bottom of a trailerful of rusty old bits of tools and tat I immediately knew what they were.  I think I paid £1 for them - possibly 50p!  Fitted to an Elm log head with an Ash handle it's great for bashing metal wedges and gluts (wooden wedges) to split open large logs and also lessens the risk of a shard of metal flying off when used with a sledgehammer (I've heard some nightmare stories about this).
The one on the right is known as a Paviour's Beetle and was used for levelling flagstones.  It also has an Elm head and Ash handle but in this case the head is turned and the handle has been sawn and not riven which I suppose doesn't matter so much as it was only ever used for relatively gentle tamping.  Kindly gifted to me by Wocko the Woodsman.
Thomas Tusser (London, 1573) writes of a "Dovercourt Beetle".  This is taken to refer to the celebrated Elm trees of Dovercourt in Essex, which were considered extremely durable and suitable for making Beetle heads.

1 comment:

Paul B said...

I'm very pleased to finally see what a beetle looks like. My grandfather would often brag that as a teenager, he was so strong and tough that his nick name was the Beetler. He worked in Belfast, tearing out old cast iron furnaces, where the saying was, "Send the Beetler or three men". He never got around to explaining to us kids that a beetle was a mallet, so it all sounded a bit silly.