Tools of Canoe Carving

Shell ChiselsThe tools that the Kapingamarangi use for canoe carving vary greatly both in origin and period. I'll first list the tools used pre-contact.

The materials to fabricate these first tools came directly from their surroundings: the shell adze (figure 103) shell chisel (figure104) and the pump drill (figure 105). Additionally, sections of coral were used as files or rasps and the pumice that occasionally drifted ashore was used as an abrasive similar to sandpaper. (See Appendix D)

Steel brought by the Spanish and later the Germans allowed the carvers to replace their shell cutting Adzesedges with steel. Even today adzes though now holding steel cutting edges very much follow the traditional adzes designs of the past.

Completely new types of tools were also introduced during contact with the Spanish, Germans, Japanese and later the United States. Some of these new tools included the hand plane, handsaw and brace and bit. During Japanese rule there were even more new tool types and methods of construction introduced to the island. The Japanese tools often produced the same product but the method of using the different tools varied.With both planes and saws, the western tools are generally designed to be pushed, whereas the Japanese tools are designed to cut on the pull stroke.

Eventually electric power tools and gas powered chainsaws became part of the Kapingamarangi tool kit.

Regardless of the origin or period of the tools the Kapingamarangi use, these tools can be divided into six different functionally based categories:

Pump DrillMarking: knives, chock lines, squares and tape measures.

Cutting tools: shell adze, steel adze, shell chisel, machete, axe, chainsaw, plane, knives, steel chisels, scissors,handsaws, spoke shaves, glass scrappers.

Abrasion: coral file or rasp, pumice, sharpening stone, sand paper, disk grinders.

Drilling: pump drill, brace and bit, electric drill motor with twist bits.

Moving: heavy duty jack, ome-a-long, rope

Clamping: rope, wedges, hammers, nails, fids.