Home > Collections & History > Art and Artifact Collections > Tools of the Trade >

  • Mahogany bevel belonging to George Claghorn. USS Constitution Museum Collection.

Bevel used by George Claghorn

What is this?

Mahogany bevel belonging to George Claghorn

When is it from?

Probably 1790 to 1824

Why is it Important?

Appointed Naval Constructor and charged with overseeing Constitution's construction, George Claghorn (1748- 1824) brought a sizable amount of shipbuilding experience with him to Boston in the fall of 1794. A veteran of Bunker Hill and a colonel of the Massachusetts militia, Claghorn was also a successful shipwright and had built a number of vessels in New Bedford, though never one so large as the navy's new frigate. As Edmund Hartt's shipyard workers lofted, or scaled up from the builders plans, the ship's towering frames and massive beams, Claghorn was there with his bevel, checking the angles of this member or that, making sure everything was fair and level and ready for assembly. His bevel and his workman's eye must have been true because their famous product is with us still.

Physical Characteristics

The bevel consists of two hinged mahogany legs, 1" wide and 11" long. Hinge has engraved "GC" initials in copperplate script. One leg of the bevel was broken and glued back together. Main leg has stamped initials "S.B.B" on all 4 sides on the ends opposite the hinge. A heavily degraded paper label with the word "Constitution" is pasted on.