The Shenandoah Restoration Project at the Harbor History Museum took another step toward completion this month with the incorporation of a green white oak being milled into frames for the vessel.
The Tree to Sea project utilized a fresh West Coast White Oak from Oregon, which was delivered to the museum on March 11 and is currently being milled by lead shipwright Nate Slater and restoration volunteers.
“It was really difficult to procure a West Coast Oak log,” Slater said. “That’s the victory in this. The last (log for the project) was from the East Coast.”
West Coast Oaks are harder to find because they tend to not grow as straight as those from the East Coast, where there is a history of the tree, Slater said.
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It was really difficult to procure a West Coast Oak log. That’s the victory in this. The last (log) was from the East Coast.
Nate Slater, lead shipwright
The green oak wood is ideal for the frames because the wood has more moisture and the fibers are softer and bend easily.
Slater and his crew of volunteers steam the wood to increase its flexibility and then snake it down along the inside sides of the vessel, holding each frame into place with 60 screws per piece.
“It dries and cures right into place,” Slater said, adding that the project will require another oak before the framing is complete.
After the framing is complete, then the restoration will move forward to rebuilding the working deck of the vessel.
“Once we get the deck done we can allow more public access to the vessel,” he said.
Once we get the deck done we can allow more public access to the vessel.
Slater, the son of a shipwright, grew up surrounded by the industry and continues to work in Gig Harbor and Tacoma. He is the lead for the Shenandoah Restoration Project and has about a dozen volunteers that have been helping on the project.
“We have a completely open-door policy,” Slater said, adding that volunteers are welcome for a day or for the entirety of the project.
For more information or updates on the Shenandoah Restoration Project, visit harborhistorymuseum.org/shenandoah.