Wooden Sabot Treatment: Waterlogged Wood Conservation
By Nathan Henry, North Carolina Office of State Archaeology, Underwater Archaeology Branch
Back in September (2018) I removed a formerly waterlogged wooden object from an immersion in the SP-11 Waterlogged Wood Treatment product. It had been soaking in the solution for about six months.
The object is a fragment of a wooden “sabot”: a bowl-like object that was attached to the bottom of an explosive round-ball projectile used in a cannon. It would be strapped to the cannon ball to keep it from rolling down the gun barrel when loading. They were made from various wood species but in this case, it was a tight-grained softwood like a fir. This one dated to about 1864 and was designed for a 24-pounder cannon ball (about 5.5-in. dia.). This object was recovered from Wrightsville Beach, NC.
Wooden sabot removed from SP-11 soak
I am pleased to report that the dehydrated sabot has exhibited no sign of shrinkage or cracking. Initially, after removing it, it looked different from earlier objects I have conserved with SP-11, sort of like resin-rich pine. As it dried, the color changed significantly to a very light beige and the weight dropped well below its waterlogged weight. The color change may be, at least partially, a result of stain removal with Hydrogen Peroxide. It had a stubborn black sulfide stain from being in anoxic mud.
In appearance and feel, it is difficult to tell that it was ever waterlogged or treated. This all occurred very rapidly, within a couple of weeks. I am very pleased with the results and look forward to trying it with some hardwoods.
Wooden sabot treated with SP-11 and completely dehydrated