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Blog entry by Karson posted 01-18-2009 06:22 PM 1825 reads 1 time favorited 21 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Since it’s so cold outside. —————


It was necessary to keep a good supply of cannon balls near the cannon on old war ships. But how to prevent them from rolling about the deck was the problem. The best storage method devised was to stack them as a square based pyramid, with one ball on top, resting on four, resting on nine, which rested on sixteen.

Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem—how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding/rolling from under the others.

The solution was a metal plate with 16 round indentations, called, for reasons unknown, a Monkey. But if this plate were made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make them of brass – hence, Brass Monkeys

Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannon balls would come right off the monkey.

Thus, it was quite literally, cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey. And all this time, you thought that was just a vulgar expression, didn’t you?

Well even snopes doesn’t have it right. LOL

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

21 comments so far

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 4040 days

#1 posted 01-18-2009 06:37 PM

That’s funny and a good way to start the morning. Thanks Karson!

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4389 days

#2 posted 01-18-2009 06:56 PM

Now that’s funny.

-- Working at Woodworking

View dustygirl's profile


862 posts in 4179 days

#3 posted 01-18-2009 07:01 PM

Very interesting bit of trivia Karson.Thanks for my chuckle of the day.

-- Dustygirl..Hastings,Ontario.. How much wood can 1 gal chuck if 1 gal can't cut wood?

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4343 days

#4 posted 01-18-2009 07:08 PM

I knew that and have a head full of useless yet interesting trivia

A bit of interesting history.

Subject: “Plucking the Yew! Before the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured soldiers. Without the middle finger it would be impossible for the English soldiers to draw the renowned English longbow and therefore incapable of fighting in the future. The famous bow was made of the English Yew tree and the act of drawing the longbow was known as “plucking the yew” or “pluck you”. Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won the battle and began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French and saying “We can still pluck yew. Pluck you”. Since “pluck yew” is rather difficult to say, the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodental fricative ‘F’ and thus the words often used in conjunction with the one-finger salute. It is also because of the pheasant feathers on the arrows used with the longbow that the symbolic gesture is known as “giving the bird”. And yew thought that yew knew everything.”


-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4527 days

#5 posted 01-18-2009 07:29 PM

that was truly an enjoyable story…I love that kind of trivia…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4335 days

#6 posted 01-18-2009 07:34 PM

Thanks Karson and roman!! Trivia is great stuff.

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View PurpLev's profile


8551 posts in 4098 days

#7 posted 01-18-2009 08:04 PM

nice find, thanx for the storytime… since theres not much else we can do in this weather :)

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4777 days

#8 posted 01-18-2009 08:04 PM

I’d heard this before, and while others don’t believe it… I like it.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 4238 days

#9 posted 01-18-2009 08:24 PM

This is one of those stories that you retell at dinner parties during polite conversation and everyone thinks you are quite the witty historian. Great job Karson. Roman, your story I will just share at parties with unpolite conversation.

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

View FlWoodRat's profile


732 posts in 4359 days

#10 posted 01-18-2009 08:28 PM

Yew guys are killing me. I can’ wait for tomorrow’s Trivia post Karson.

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning....

View TimberMan's profile


115 posts in 3914 days

#11 posted 01-18-2009 08:34 PM

Great story. I needed that laugh.

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 4008 days

#12 posted 01-18-2009 08:49 PM

Yew fellas are funny….............ROFLMAO Great stories guys.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View John Gray's profile

John Gray

2370 posts in 4335 days

#13 posted 01-18-2009 09:14 PM

-- Only the Shadow knows....................

View Dusty56's profile


11850 posts in 4138 days

#14 posted 01-18-2009 09:35 PM

Karson , Roman ….... Thank you both for making my day : ) LOL !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View SteveKorz's profile


2139 posts in 4164 days

#15 posted 01-19-2009 04:38 AM

Karson Rocks…

That was awesome… LOL… (I’m using that tomorrow.)

-- As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17) †

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