On our free afternoon, several symposium attendees made their way to the wheelwrights’ shop to meet the artisans and see what they were up to.

On this day — and for quite a number of days lately — they were splitting white-oak logs for spokes. Several big trees had come down on Williamsburg-owned land during a recent hurricane, and the wheelwrights were the lucky recipients of this unexpected bounty. There are so many logs that they will apparently have enough split wood to last through several years’ worth of spokes.

They explained to us that they use white oak for spokes and ash (from the center of the logs) for hubs. Once split, each piece of wood has to dry for one year per inch of thickness, so a twelve-inch chunk of ash must dry for an astonishing twelve years before it can be made into a hub.

In the lean-to next to the wheelwrights’ workshop is the blacksmith’s shop, and we were able to peek in there as well.

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