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206 THATCHING [cu

in general use in England. In Wales the straw is merely beaten
with a wooden beater called a ‘ dobren.’ It has been described to
the writer as ‘a club of some weight of oak or ash, to beat and
smooth the thatch with the flat lower surface.’ In Germany, as
in England, it is the aim of the thatcher to produce a flat and
smooth surface, and this is attained "by the use of the ‘ streichbrett,’
or ‘dachbrett’ (Lit. ‘stroke-board’ or ‘roof—board’), a board with
indentations or channels (‘ kerben oder rinnen ’). Its use is general
from Holland and from South Sweden to the South Tyrol and to
Lower Austria‘.

Henry Best, in his list of thatcher’s tools, says that the rake
with three or four teeth is for scratching ‘ of dirte and olde mortar.’
The other tools in Best’s list are two needles for sewing, an ‘eiz
knife’ for cutting the eaves, a switching knife for cutting even
and all alike, as the thatcher came down from the ridge, a slice
‘ wherewith he diggeth a way or passage and also striketh in the
thatch,’ and a trowel for laying on the mortar.

This was in East Yorkshire, in the year 1641, and nearly three
centuries later, in September 1911, a Nottinghamshire thatcher
showed his tools to the writer. They were (I) a piece of wood
shaped something like a battledore with a square end, which was
used to ‘bat ’ the eaves. He said that he had ‘ no particular name ’
for it, and it was apparently of his own invention. A ‘piece of
wood used by thatchers to beat down thatch,’ in counties as far
apart as Devonshire and Lincolnshire and called a ‘batting board,’
is apparently an English version of the Welsh ‘dobren.’ (2) A
‘ knife,’ which was made from a scythe blade sharpened to a point
and fixed longitudinally to a handle : the thatcher said that he had
bought it from an old ‘ thacker.’ (3) A ‘ rake,’ which the thatcher
had made by driving nails in a row through a straight piece of
wood : it had no handle. (4) Shears, which seemed to be ordinary
garden shears. He also had with him ‘ thack-pegs ’ and tar band.
Here was a worker in a building trade, with tools which were not
standardised, and some of which were certainly of his own manu-
facture and possibly of his own invention. In this respect the
thatcher is the most primitive of building workmen, and preserves
for us the old custom which has elsewhere disappeared.

Richard Jefferies has described for us the apparatus of the

1 K. Rhamm, Altdazm'ube Wo/mzmg, p. 211.

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