Dutchman (repair)

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A dutchman, or for some uses, graving piece is a repair technique section for replacing small sections of a damaged area. The term is used in woodworking, masonry, railroading, boatbuilding and theater.



In construction and woodworking, a dutchman can refer to an inset wood patch used to repair wood.[1] Typically a square inset is cut into the damaged area and a new piece of wood is glued into the inset.[2][3]


In stone masonry, a Dutchman is an inset selectively replacing only the fault in a stone with new stone material, usually matching adjacent material as closely as possible.[4][5]


In shipbuilding, boat-building and ship's carpentry, a dutchman repair can refer to repairs in metal as well as wood.[6][7]


In railroading, a dutchman is colloquially a short air brake extension hose[8] or a temporary rail repair.[9]

A rail repair dutchman is typically a 4–6-inch (100–150 mm) long piece of rail that is cut in advance for the purpose and carried by a section crew. If the gang finds a rail with a chipped or broken end, they remove the connector plates (fishplates), cut out the damaged section, replace it with the dutchman, and bolt the connectors back in place. This is often only a temporary repair.

When welding rails together using the Thermite process began at the start of the 20th century, a section of railhead approximately 34 inch (19 mm) long, also called a dutchman, was often placed between the sections being joined, with only the web and foot of the rail being new Thermite steel.[10]


The term is also used in theatrical scenery construction, where a dutchman is a strip of material, usually canvas or muslin, used to cover the joint between two adjoining surfaces (such as flats). The strip is then painted or textured to match the adjoining pieces and create a seamless effect. Warp or weft threads can be removed from the edge of the dutchman to allow the edges to feather into the surrounding surface. On canvas flats, dutchman is usually applied with diluted white glue or paint.


  1. ^ "How to Repair Rot Damage with a Dutchman". thisoldhouse.com/. Retrieved 2015-06-18.
  2. ^ Cochrane, Craig. "Dutchman Wood Repair". Make Magazine. O'Reilly Media. Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  3. ^ "How to Patch a Doorknob Hole With a Dutchman". This Old House. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Dutchman Repair". millenniumpreservation.com/. Retrieved 2015-06-18.
  5. ^ "DUTCHMAN REPAIR OF LIMESTONE". GSA.gov. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  6. ^ J. R. Adams (11 December 2013). A Maritime Archaeology of Ships: Innovation and Social Change in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe. Oxbow Books. pp. 172–. ISBN 978-1-84217-297-1.
  7. ^ Greg Rossel (1998). Building Small Boats. WoodenBoat Books. pp. 156–. ISBN 978-0-937822-50-0.
  8. ^ Transportation Dictionary: Railroad Dictionary.
  9. ^ Where Did the Term 'Dutchman' Originate?
  10. ^ Hart, Richard Newell (1914). Welding; theory, practice, apparatus and tests, electric, thermit and hot-flame processes. New York: McGraw Hill Book Company Inc. p. 153.