Making the forcola
The venetian Forcola is carved from a unic block of wood. The master remèr must select by himself the logs giving absolute priority to the health, strenght and beauty of the grain. The selection is not easy when the logs are still fresh and wet. It's a point of no return and it requires a lot of experience.
The logs are usually european walnut trees, large at least 60-70cm. When they are still wet they are cut in four quarters each one. From each quarter it's possible making only one forcola for Gondola, at best.
From this moment the seasoning process can start. It's very important to protect the logs from violent temperature and humidity variations. It will be a completely natural seasoning. It's the best way to preserve the strenght and the wood physical features. It's very important to check the wood periodically treating it against woodworms.
After at least 2-3 years wood humidity is reduced of the 80% and the log can be considered dry. The Forcola construction process can begin!
Every Forcola is completely tailor made according to the gondolier's height and to his personal rowing style. The experienced remèr will understand the right measure of the Forcola proceeding with the rough cut of the outline.
At the beginning, the log weight cannot be ignored and it's absolutely necessary a big bandsaw. Then the walnut block can be fixed on a special wooden vice (built into the floor) to be cut by hand with an ancient handsaw.
It's now possible starting to see the forcola getting out from the walnut log. Many hours of hard work will be necessary, using different sizes and models of drawknives, the most important remèr's tool.
During this step it's so important to find the best balance between function and beauty. The Forcola's surfaces, the lines, the edges have to be perfect. In Venice we say that a very nice Forcola works well.
After 10-30 hours of hand working (it depends on the Forcola size and the model), the Forcola can be polished using fine sandpaper, always by hand. The skill is to reach the edges perfection.
The final step is giving many coats of herbal oil. The wood will shine and the grain real color can finally appear.
Walnut is undoubt a unic wood. And its color is always a beautiful surprise.