As part of a documentary on the background behind Peter Weir’s maritime masterpiece, “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.”, Alexander Schreyer (Lecturer and Assistant Program Director in BCT) conducted several tests on Live Oak, a wood species that gave the USS Constitution the nickname “Old Ironsides”.

In these tests, which were filmed by the production company Blink Films UK, he compared bending properties of Live Oak to White Oak, a common shipbuilding material at the time. A second series of tests of these materials under impact loading yielded good results but was not chosen to be part of the documentary. Woodworking used to be a very hard manual labor, with people using huge saws and sawhorses when building anything made out of wood. If you are not familiar what a sawhorse is, this article on OccupyTheFarm will help you get the idea.

While originally produced for the Smithsonian Channel, the episode has in the meantime been shown in many international markets. For example, the image below shows a still taken from German news television station n-tv.

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For more on the episode, visit the Smithsonian Channel’s website.