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tools-msg - 8/21/10


Period and modern tools. Sources for tool illustrations. Toolboxes.


NOTE: See also the files: p-lathes-msg, woodworking-msg, wood-bending-msg, tools-bib, lea-tooling-msg, glues-msg, craft-supplies-msg, bellows-msg, bone-msg, horn-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given  by the individual authors.


Please respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear  at this time. If information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

   Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                         Stefan at florilegium.org



From: tip at lead.aichem.arizona.edu (Tom Perigrin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: 10th century bellows

Date: 10 May 1994 17:34:16 GMT

Organization: Department of Chemistry


eric-smith at ksc.nasa.gov (Eric C. Smith) wrote:

> Jennifer/Rannveik wrote:

> >

> > Failing tenth century does anyone know of any later sources for

> > bellows? (The best I've managed so far is 18th-19th century).


> A book called 'Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel: Technology and Invention

> in the Middleages', has some information about belows, including a few

> pictures from manuscripts.  The authors are Franses and Joseph Gies.  I

> don't have the ISBN right now, but if you want it I'll see if I can find

> it.


> Maredudd


CALL #       T17 .G54 1994

AUTHOR       Gies, Frances.

TITLE        Cathedral, forge, and waterwheel : technology and invention


               the Middle Ages.

OTHER AUTH   Gies, Joseph.

EDITION      1st ed.

PUBLISHER    New York : HarperCollins Publishers, c1994.

SUBJECTS     Technology --History.

             Inventions --History.

NOTE         Includes bibliographical references (p. [329]-343) and index.

DESCRIPTION  357 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.

ISBN         0060165901 (cloth) : $25.00.


Courtesy of your local Gopher



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: rzex60 at email.sps.mot.com (Jason Magnus)

Subject: Re: Using Hand Tools - Sources?

Organization: The Polyhedron Group

Date: Mon, 27 Jun 1994 22:13:46 GMT


millsbn at mcmail.cis.mcmaster.ca (Bruce Mills) wrote:

> Anybody have any source material or references on how to use hand tools

> (period or not)?


> Since I have next to no experience, best to start with overview type stuff.


> Akimoya


Several other good sources have already been mentioned. Another is 'Bob

Villa's Toolbox'. Bob's been the host of several season's worth of

home-improvement / remodeling shows, notably 'This Old House' and 'Home

Again with Bob Villa'. While Bob isn't what most folks would call a

craftsman himself, he has been exposed to the information available from a

wide range of contractors, finish carpenters, and woodworkers. 'ToolBox' is

aimed at beginners, and starts with the essential tooks for a kitchen

drawer - stuff you need to change a light switch or do other light

maintenance around the house. He works his way up into a variety of

general-purpose and specialized hand and power tools. All the way he tells

the reader what each tool is for, and how they are used. As a maker and

designer of furniture, I have a -lot- of reference books in my library on

tools, tool histories, woodworking and other shop topics. If I was going to

hand a novice just one of those books, it would be 'Toolbox'.


Regards, Jason Magnus (aka Jay Brandt)         <rzex60 at email.sps.mot.com>

In the SCA, HLS Jason of Rosaria, JdL, GdS, AoA           (Member # 3016)



From: roman321 at aol.com (Roman321)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: HELP REQUESTED - Books on ancient woodworking techniques

Date: 18 Jul 1994 09:27:04 -0400


David Mann <mann49 at delphi.com> writes:


There is a book titled "Ancient Carpenters Tools" by (I think) Henry

Mercer that contains just this sort of information.  It was published in

about 1950 and should be available through interlibrary loan. Good Luck


Arlof, Count of Aranmor, In fealty to the Byzantine throne



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: rzex60 at email.sps.mot.com (Jay Brandt)

Subject: Re: Period foods? tools?

Organization: The Polyhedron Group

Date: Tue, 16 Aug 1994 16:07:05 GMT


Hokay, I guess as something of a long-time member I should put in my two

cents worth here. This is just my opinions, and your mileage may vary

depending on who else you talk to. I'm on more solid ground near the end of

this, where I'm talking on tools and technologies, as that is my main area

of research lately.


In article <1994Aug15.151754 at usht01.hou130.chevron.com>,

> What of Aluminum, and high-grade steel?  Bronze is obviously acceptable, but

> how about Zinc, Brass, and other alloys?


Depends on just how authentic you want to be. No on Aluminum and on very

high grades of steel. They did have some forms of steel, but mostly

forge-created blades, rather than cast alloys or sheet steel. Bronze and

brass are acceptable. I'm not sure on zinc, but I think so. There are some

good period books on metalurgy, such as 'de re metalica', which could shed

more light on that. Sounds like a good starting point for some serious

library research. :-)


> What tools are appropriate?


One could write a book on that topic, and several people have. I'll again

recommend a visit to a good library there. Most blacksmiths tools haven't

changed since the SCA's period. Most hand woodworking tools are OK, at

least in function. Hand planes (the tools that shave thin layers off of

wood) would be wooden bodied rather than metal bodied. The same is true for

spokeshaves and similar tools. Adjustments tended to be by wedges rather

than by screws. Saws tended toward bow saws and 'turning saws' (a bow saw

where the blade can be rotated on its long axis to get the frame out of the

way of the cut). The modern carpenters panel saw wasn't used, as they

couldn't keep the blade flat and stiff unless it was under tension.


> What kind of machines (old definition) and tools were in common usage, or

> were being invented?


There were specialized carts for moving logs, various types of workbenches,

and several clamping systems. Bench vises were of the wooden screw type.

Many, in fact most, craftsmen used systems of pegs in the bench top and

wedges between the pegs and the work to hold items while working on them.

Holdfasts, an L-shaped iron peg still available today, were used to hold

work down on the bench top. Most modern shop machinery did not exist, such

as table saws, drill presses, and 'eggbeater' drills. The first table saw

was invented by a Quaker woman in America, decidedly post-period.


> What were the common fasteners; screws and/or bolts,

> or just nails?


Rivets were the most common metal-to-metal fastening, and fairly common as

a means of fastening metal to wood as well. Hand-cut, flat-headed,

blunt-pointed screws with a slot head were known in late period, and used

on some metal assemblies with threaded holes or square nuts when the

assembly needed to be taken apart later. Flat bladed screwdrivers only, no

phillips or allen or torx screws. Metal screws were still fairly coarse

threaded. Screws were generally not trusted for woodworking, and neither

were nails, though both were used on cheap work. Most quality woodworking

(from furniture to houses and ships) depended on good joinery and wooden

pegs. They had some decent glues, but rarely trusted to glue alone for a

joint's strength. Hinges on chests and boxes were commonly a pair of

cotter-pin shaped devices, with the legs of one pin driven at an angle

through a hole in the top edge of a chest's side and clinched on the

interior, and the other pin linked eye-to-eye and clinched into the lid.

Doors and large cabinets or chests usually used strap hinges, held in place

by rivets or clinched nails going through the door.


Regards, Jay Brandt --- Austin, Texas, USA --- <rzex60 at email.sps.mot.com>

In the SCA, HLS Jason of Rosaria, JdL, GdS, AoA --------- (Member # 3016)

Owner / Designer / Craftsman ------------------------- Bear Paw Woodworks



From: tip at lead.aichem.arizona.edu (Tom Perigrin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Period foods? tools?

Date: 16 Aug 1994 21:42:27 GMT

Organization: AI in Chem Lab


hkoeh at usht01.hou130.chevron.com (Mark Koehler) wrote:

> What of Aluminum, and high-grade steel?  Bronze is obviously acceptable, but

> how about Zinc, Brass, and other alloys?


Aluminum way OOP.   Okay, one could argue that it MAY have been produced,

but there is no evidence of it,  only a few suggestions of a light silver

metal that may been aluminum or a zinc alloy.  


Bronze and brass both well known.  They are considered different metals, and

both were used by the Romans for coinage.   However, the alloys are poorly

controlled, and so bronze and brass varies a lot from batch to batch.


Zinc is known in alloy, and perhaps to a few alchemists, but not as a


Other alloys?  Tin, pewter, silver, gold, electrum, red gold, white gold,

copper (unalloyed), soft copper, lead, hard lead, drossel, billon, etc...


> Greetings and Salutations!  I suppose an introduction is in order...  I am

> researching for a persona out of freshly Normandized Saxony (England during


About 1100?

> but realizes he has a real talent as a handyman (Tinker?).


> What tools are appropriate?  I assume he would be able to provide assistance

> and maybe borrow either a blacksmith's or woodwright's facilities, but he

> could construct a makeshift shop using his own tools in a moment's notice.


Errr, well, don't bet on it.  Tinkers were considered pretty low people.  A

smith is a wealthy man, a pillar of the village or even of a keep, and has

little use for a tinker.  It's not just the training, it's also social

standing, etc...     Same for a woodwright.  


Tinker's carried their shops on thier backs...   some hammers, pliers,

nippers, tongs, a blow pipe, some solders, sheets of metal to make repairs,

a file or two, some clay to make tinkers dams, a piercer, an awl, some

needles and thread,  maybe a small mandrel.


> What kind of machines (old definition) and tools were in common usage, or

> were being invented?  What were the common fasteners; screws and/or bolts,

> or just nails?


One of the previous gentles answered correctly about joinery, except that

he is thinking too late for your period.  During the early 1100's, etc.,

the primary furniture construction is planked construction, simple boards

and nails.  Joinery, as witnessed by the Mayor of Paris's decree in 13XX (I

have the exact date elsewhere), was a very rare and expensive form of

construction, mostly limited to church and royalty.  A commoner had a

boarded chest and damn little else.  The nobility and even parish churches

might have had mor furniture, but it was pretty crudely made.  The

furniture and construction renaissence really startd in the mid 1300's.

Before then, it was surprisingly crude and rare.  He had the hinges

right... cotter pins, with the legs banged clear through the wood and

clinched over.  Looks "primative".  I lost a lot of points at an A&S

tourney once because of how crude my hardware was... *sigh*


Bolts were very very rare...  how do you plan to cut the threads on the

nut? When I make a nut for a spinning wheel reproduction, I cut the

threads in a rod with a file, get a bar YELLOW hot, and then quickly bang

it around the threads.   Then you have to file it square, work it so it

threads on and off, and do a lot more work.    NOT easy.  I require 2 days

to produce a bolt and nut.  I imagine somebody good could do it in a half

day?    More common were long pins with a slot that could take a wedge,

much like a tusk tenon in wood.  This is much easier for the blacksmith to

make. Look at pictures of cannons... up until 1800 most of the metalwork

uses this type of wedge.   Even fine work such as astrolabes used a slotted

post, held by a wedge typically shaped with a horses head on the end.  The

entire wedge is called "the horse".  The posts for clocks and watches were

also pinned, rather than using screws.



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: rzex60 at email.sps.mot.com (Jay Brandt)

Subject: Re: Tools

Organization: The Polyhedron Group

Date: Wed, 17 Aug 1994 18:26:38 GMT


J.N.DEakin at sheffield-hallam.ac.UK (Jim N. Deakin) wrote:


> Greetings from Niall of Stone Ford,

>   In a recent, very interesting note, Jay Brandt <rzex60 at email.sps.mot.com>

> said:

> > ...the first table saw

> > was invented by a Quaker woman in America, decidedly post-period.


> What we over here call the circular saw is indeed post-period, but the

> origin given here is not correct. The story is that it was invented by a

> _Shaker_ woman, and it is presented as fact in tours of Shaker communities

> etc. The trouble is it's wrong. There was a discussion on rec.woodworking

> some time ago which mentioned earlier examples. Unfortunately I didn't save

> the notes, and I can't mail to newsgroups so I can't ask there.


I stand corrected. Thank you, as I wouldn't want to spread misinformation.


I was citing from memory while at work, rather than quoting from an

authoratative source while nestled in my research library. You are indeed

right that the usual attribution was to a -Shaker-, as opposed to Quaker,

woman. Several rather authorative books on tool histories that I have in my

collection contain that attribution. I'll not argue whether someone else

perhaps deserves credit for an earlier 'invention' of that device, as you

may well be right. That is certainly the case with a number of inventions.

I think perhaps hers was the first 'commercially viable' table saw.

Certainly others in Europe were already cutting wood with circular blades,

but as I recall, none of their arrangements allowed the wood to slide on a

table, nor for the blade height to be readily adjusted. Unfortunately, I

missed that discussion on rec.ww. I truly wish I could have read it.


Incidentally, in her design, it was the table that moved to adjust the

blade height, rather than moving the blade and power source. Quite clever!


Regards, Jay Brandt --- Austin, Texas, USA --- <rzex60 at email.sps.mot.com>

In the SCA, HLS Jason of Rosaria, JdL, GdS, AoA --------- (Member # 3016)

Owner / Designer / Craftsman ------------------------- Bear Paw Woodworks



From: doug_brunner at om.cv.hp.com (3/28/95)

To: markh at sphinx

RE>Medieval Tools Info????


   Well Mark,


       This could be your lucky day. I just got this and I'm glad to pass

   it on. I'll let you do the same for me if you hear of something.




>Lucky Bruno!  woodworking tools are fairly well documented due to a >twist of

fate, St. Joseph was a carpenter, so he is portrayed with >the appropriate toos

in much christian iconography.  Most of the >pictures I list can be found in a

large number of places, I've listed >my sources just to help. (Keep your eye out

for Noah building

>the Ark, building of the Tower of Babel and building of various >cathedrals)

>_Daily Life in the Middle Ages_ by Clara and Richard Winston,

>        pg 31, brace&bit, auger, chisel, saw! from "The Annunciation with

>Donors and St. Joseph" Robert Campin

>        pg 32 bad repro axe + ? note baby walker! "The Holy Family at Work"

>from "Hours of Catherin of Cleves"

>        pg 33 building scene

>_A Medieval Book of Seasons_ by Marie Collins and Virginia Davis

>        pg 53 building scene with  pit sawing, hewing, a crane and a >level!

British Library, London, ADD MS 19720 f27 "Rustican", French, >late 15th century

>_Antiques_, edited by Elizabeth Drury

>        pg 20, planes, saws, dividers, chisels, mallet, try squares,

>braces&bits, lots of good stuff, (inc: lady spinning), from "Work" by >J.

Bourdichon, 15th century

>        pg 22 spring pole lathe from a book of trades published in >Zurich in

1548 by Johann Stumf

>may I also comment to your attention: >

>_On Divers Arts_, Theophilus, trans by J.G.Hawthorne and C.S.Smith

>        Dover reprint, pg 26 cheese glue and a discription of a drawknife >  

   12th century

>"The Debate of the Carpenter's Tools" anon, 15th century, Bodleian Library,

>Ashmole 61, also found in the back of _The Woodwright's Work Book_,

>by Roy Underhill.

>and from his bibliography:

>_The History of Woodworking Tools_, W.L.Goodman

>_The Development of Carpentry, 1200-1700, An Essex Study. Cecil Hewitt; >      

Newton Abbot, David & Charles Devon

>_Ancient Carpenter's Tools_ by Henry Mercer >

>and two last ones:

>_The Carpenter's Tool Chest_ Thomas Hibben, tertiary at best; lots of >un

documented line drawings

>and one to inspire work

>_Masterpieces_, Richard Ball & Peter Campbell, subtitle: Making Furniture From

>Paintings, 20 projects: ISBN 0-688-02488-2, Hearst Books, New York

>copyright 1983



From: aodhan at dobharchu.org (Aodhan Ite an Fhithich)

Date: 18 May 95 08:14:12

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Blacksmithing materials?

Organization: Lough na Dobharchu' BBS - Loch Soilleir, Ansteorra


Dia duit!


[Replying to a message of PATSY DUNHAM to All]


PD> We are searching for sources for tools & materials for a small smithy

PD> operation which we are setting up (if you want period hardware for

PD> your woodwork, you have to make it yourself, eh?)


PD> We are seeking _period_ equivalent tools, too, not 18-19th century.  


PD> Also looking for materials sources: coal, bronze, etc.




Write to the following and request their latest catalog.  While I cannot vouch

for how period their tools are, they offer a great many, as well as supplies

and books.


Centaur Forge, Ltd.

117 North Spring St.

PO Box 340

Burlington, WI 53105


Feicfidh me' ari's thu',




Baron Aodhan Ite an Fhithich    aodhan at dobharchu.org

Master of the Laurel            Lough na Dobharchu' BBS  1-713-338-2570

Dobharchu' Herald               "Your Information Roman Road"

mka David H. Brummel            1:106/22  180:11/22  762:2200/2

SCA Member 02245                Barony of Loch Soilleir, Ansteorra





From: Gerekr at aol.COM

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Woodworking (was How Do You Know?)

Date: 28 Sep 1995 14:57:42 -0400


McNutt at gateway.ce.utk.edu wrote:

>You said it.  Try and find documentation on the nature and use of woodworking >tools prior to 1600.

>Oh, there's stuff to be found, but the way the secondary references run,

you'd >think woodworking started in 1700!


Try this: Goodman, W.L. _The History of Woodworking Tools._  New York: David

McKay Co., 1964.  I would be willing to pay a fair amount for a copy of this.

It's a little dated due to more recent archaeological finds, but for

structure and general information it is definitive.


Meistari Gerekr

Gerekr at aol.com



From: Bill McNutt <McNutt at gateway.ce.utk.edu>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Woodworking (was How Do You Know?)

Date: 29 Sep 1995 14:24:36 GMT

Organization: University of Tennessee


Gerekr at aol.COM wrote:

>McNutt at gateway.ce.utk.edu wrote:


>Try this: Goodman, W.L. _The History of Woodworking Tools._  New York: David

>McKay Co., 1964.  I would be willing to pay a fair amount for a copy of this.

> It's a little dated due to more recent archaeological finds, but for

>structure and general information it is definitive.


I have it on my desk right now.  I've been through it, and it's looks like a real good secondary survey of woodworking tools from the Roman era up through the 19th century.  While informative, he jumps all over eastern and europe, wherever he can find the best evidence of a trend.  His treatment of 16th century england is almost non-existent.  I'm currently digging for references regarding 16th century London.



From: afn03234 at freenet.ufl.edu (Ronald L. Charlotte)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Woodworking (was How Do You Know?)

Date: 3 Oct 1995 03:35:38 GMT


David Mann (uccxdem at okway.okstate.edu) wrote:

: Greetings,

: I, myself have tried to find a book or series of books comprehensive enough

: to cover the tools of woodworkers in period. But so far no such luck. I even

: asked our rabid researcher to help locate books, but it seems sofar no one

: has even bothered to compile one. About all I have is some copies of

: manuscripts, woodcuts, and miserichords showing tools. A few of the tools

: are not well shown to guess their usage. The only thing I can suggest to

: anyone interested in period tools is to start perusing manuscripts and the

: like for the information they seek.


A very good resource, if you can locate a copy, is _Handtools of Arts and

Crafts_ by the Diagram Group (1981, St. Martin's Press).  The book has

sections on crafts ranging from calligraphy to upholstery including

wood and metal work.  Where possible, each section has examples of

historical and ancient tools of that craft.  It only touches lightly on

the individual topics, but the information presented (and the

bibliography) are good starting points.


        al Thaalibi -- An Crosaire, Trimaris

        Ron Charlotte -- Gainesville, FL

        afn03234 at freenet.ufl.edu



From: brettwi at ix.netcom.com (Brett Williams )

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Woodworking (was How Do You Know?)

Date: 5 Oct 1995 15:20:59 GMT


uccxdem at okway.okstate.edu (David Mann) writes:

> Bill McNutt <McNutt at gateway.ce.utk.edu> says:


>>uccxdem at okway.okstate.edu (David Mann) wrote:


>>About all I have is some copies of

>>manuscripts, woodcuts, and miserichords showing tools.

>>I lust for your manuscripts, woodcuts, and meserichors showing tools.

>>I'm just starting to get to that stage.  I would humbly ask for

>>anything that you can fax, mail, e-mail, or send me.

>>Examples. A bibliography.  Anything.

>>I am a desparate man.


>I am currently a very busy man. I will put it on my to do list, it

>might be a month till I can dig all the stuff up. This is item number

>12 on the list, and that doesn't include the MVS update for work.





If I might point the way to some help-- in "Saints, a Book of Days" put

out by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (I bought it for all the handsome

illuminations), there is a painting of St. Joseph using a number of

carpenter's tools in the early part of May.  He is shown using a drill,

with an axe, saw and what looks to be a wooden dowel at his feet, and

another blade, pliers, small peened hammer, chisel, bowl of nails, an

auger and a mysterious little box that just could be a plane on the

table beside him.


"Saints, a Book of Days", ISBN 0-87099-716-5 (MMA) OR ISBN

0-821202173-6 (Bullfinch Press), 1994.





From: priestdor at vassar.edu (Greg E. Priest-Dorman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Woodworking (was How Do You Know?)

Date: 6 Oct 1995 01:28:32 GMT

Organization: Vassar College


Greeting from Thora Sharptooth!


About the Campin altarpiece (popular subject this week!), ciorstan

(brettwi at ix.netcom.com) wrote:


>If I might point the way to some help-- in "Saints, a Book of Days" put

>out by the Metropolitan Museum of Art (I bought it for all the handsome

>illuminations), there is a painting of St. Joseph using a number of

>carpenter's tools in the early part of May.  He is shown using a drill,

>with an axe, saw and what looks to be a wooden dowel at his feet, and

>another blade, pliers, small peened hammer, chisel, bowl of nails, an

>auger and a mysterious little box that just could be a plane on the

>table beside him.


It's a mousetrap.  My husband makes them.


Carolyn Priest-Dorman                     Thora Sharptooth

Poughkeepsie, NY                   Frosted Hills ("where's that?")

priest at vassar.edu                      East Kingdom

           Gules, three square weaver's tablets in bend Or




From: afn03234 at freenet.ufl.edu (Ronald L. Charlotte)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: How Do You Know?

Date: 29 Sep 1995 11:44:29 GMT


Bill McNutt (McNutt at gateway.ce.utk.edu) wrote:


: You said it.  Try and find documentation on the nature and use of

: woodworking tools prior to 1600.


: Oh, there's stuff to be found, but the way the secondary references run,

: you'd think woodworking started in 1700!


Not really my field, but while looking for leatherwork documentation, I

stumbled upon "The Merode Altarpiece" which is at the Cloisters.  The

right panel depicts St. Joseph seated at a carpenter's bench with a

wonderful variety of tools about him, and using a brace and bit.  It's

one of better 15c. documentations of tools of any type I've found.


        al Thaalibi -- An Crosaire, Trimaris

        Ron Charlotte -- Gainesville, FL

        afn03234 at freenet.ufl.edu



From: afn03234 at freenet.ufl.edu (Ronald L. Charlotte)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: How Do You Know?

Date: 30 Sep 1995 11:29:45 GMT


Greg E. Priest-Dorman (priestdor at vassar.edu) wrote:

: Greeting from Thora Sharptooth!


: About a particular painting, al Thaalibi (afn03234 at freenet.ufl.edu)

: wrote:


: >Not really my field, but while looking for leatherwork documentation,

: I

: >stumbled upon "The Merode Altarpiece" which is at the Cloisters. The

: >right panel depicts St. Joseph seated at a carpenter's bench with a

: >wonderful variety of tools about him, and using a brace and bit.  It's

: >one of better 15c. documentations of tools of any type I've found.


: Um, that's the "Campin Altarpiece."  My husband and I visit it often

: down in New Jorvik; we think St. Joseph is making pegboard!


I don't doubt you one whit.  The reference that I'm using; the

_Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin_ Vol.XVI #4 is dated Dec. 1957,

shortly after the piece's acquisition and restoration.  Merode was the

family that had held the painting for 2 generations before the museum got

it. At the time, the painting was attributed to "The Master of Flemalle"

whom they were certain (but not at that time, proven) to be Robert Campin.


The detail work in the painting is lovely, and I used it to design a

variant of the belt purse that the donor wears in the left panel of the



I think you may be right, though, it _does_ look for all the world

like S. Joseph is making pegboard, you can even see the pattern marked on

the plank.


        al Thaalibi -- An Crosaire, Trimaris

        Ron Charlotte -- Gainesville, FL

        afn03234 at freenet.ufl.edu



Date: Thu, 28 Aug 1997 13:22:12 -0700

From: Brett Williams <brettwi at ix.netcom.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Apothecary box


gcarnegi wrote:

> Since I know there are several very good woodworkers on this list, I'm

> hoping someone can help with this.

> I'm trying to locate an apothecary box about 1300 to 1600. I plan to use it

> for keeping misc items in.  It should have a hinged lid and several

> comparments.  I'd prefer to work from a archival photograph but a good

> period art source will do.

> It'll be a big project, I know.

> I've got access to Master Malcom MacPherson's shop and his unlimited

> patience as I fumble through this ; - )

> I've even got local access to a forge.

> Does anyone have a resource for this they'd be willing to share?

> Gwyndolynn Anne the Obscure, OL

> West Kingdom



Master Gerekr's webpages have a link to a Scandinavian page showing a

photograph of an honest-to-goodness medieval tool box, complete with tools.

While it isn't an apothecary's box, might that be similar enough to get an idea

of what was built?


Alas, we have a newly reformatted hard drive (loss of all bookmarks and saved

files! [whine]) and my IP's web connection seems to be temperamental at the

moment, otherwise I'd supply the URL. However, it can be easily found by going





and doing a search on Ravensgard or Gerekr. The pictures of Master Gerekr's

Viking bed are Really Cool, too. ;)





From: foxwhelp at mindspring.com (John Hutchins)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Medieval carpentry tools

Date: Fri, 10 Oct 1997 16:53:33 GMT

Organization: MindSpring Enterprises


seanclan at aol.com (Sean Clan) wrote:


>     I am hoping that this is a joke!  But the Art of carpentry had advanced

> quite far by our Period.  I would think that most simple hand tools were in

> use.  I would stick to what Gunnbjorn Gunnarsson <blues at mail.ic.net> Said and

> use that as a basis for your personal research.  Sounds like a good article,

> if not a Complete Anachronist peice.


But medieval artists, were, as C. S. Lewis has written "happily

ignorant of archeology and therefore compelled to see the past as if

it were part of their own present."  The tools depicted in medieval

paintings of St. Joseph are the tools which would have been used by a

carpenter during the period in which the picture was painted.  


In fact, Meyer Schapiro discusses one such painting in one of his

books (_Late Antique, Early  Christian and Medieval Art_).  It wasn't

an English painting, but I don't remember who the artist was (maybe

van der Weyden?) and don't have the book to check.



From: powers at woodstock.cis.ohio-state.edu (william thomas powers)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Medieval carpentry tools

Date: 10 Oct 1997 22:30:59 -0400

Organization: The Ohio State University, Department of Computer and Information Science


>Roy Underhill, host of "The Woodwright's Shop" on PBS, has written

>several books as "companions" to his TV series. One of these contains a

>period poem called, I believe, "The Debate of the Carpenter's Tools." He

>has analyzed the poem and identified nearly all of the tools named, as

>well as giving illustrations of the tools themselves. If I remember

>correctly, the poem was translated from Middle English. the original

>text was also provided.


"The Woodwright's Work Book", Roy Underhill, isbn0-8078-4157-9


"The verse that follows is adapted from an anonymous fifteenth century

manuscript (copy in the Bodleian Library, Ashmole 61). The original

text appears in the appendix of this book."


Original is 288 lines!


"The Carpenter's Tool Chest" Thomas Hibben copyright 1933 has many

line drawings of tools starting from the stone age until "modern";

but this is a tertiary source---at best.


wilelm the smith---you can't make them if you don't know what they look like



From: gerekr at aol.com (Gerekr)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Medieval carpentry tools

Date: 11 Oct 1997 20:06:36 GMT


You could try: Goodman, William Louis.  _The history of woodworking tools._

New York : D. McKay, c1964.  He includes a chart of woodworking tools through

various periods.  It's a little dated, some fill-ins from newer finds, but

quite good.  Some day in my Copious Free Time(TM) I'd like to do a more up to

date and intense version on the Middle Ages.


Meistari Gerekr



From: priest at NOSPAMvassar.edu (Carolyn Priest-Dorman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Medieval carpentry tools

Date: 12 Oct 1997 01:13:40 GMT

Organization: Vassar College


Greeting from Thora Sharptooth!


Quoting Nahum, John Hutchins (foxwhelp at mindspring.com) wrote:

>>One piece that comes to mind immediately (maybe because I've gone to see it

>>so often) is a Northern Rennaisance Triptich in the Cloisters museum

>>showing the Announciation in the central "room", Joseph working in his shop

>>on the right, an the guy who paid for the painting, with his girlfriend and

>>an attendant on the left.

>This is the painting I had in mind -- the one Shapiro wrote about.

>Do you remember who painted it?  As I remember, the shop and tools are

>shown in van Eyckian detail.


It's Robert Campin's work, late fifteenth century Flemish.  The whole work is

scarcely the size of a modern scanner bed, but you can photocopy/enlarge a

print of it to about 600% resolution and still see the details in the tools

and equipment remarkably clearly.


Carolyn Priest-Dorman                    Thora Sharptooth

capriest at cs.vassar.edu                   Frostahlid, Austrriki





From: wireharp at ix.netcom.com(RWM)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: re: Carpenter's Tools

Date: 11 Oct 1997 04:17:54 GMT


I remembered a source, but of a different time period. As I mentioned,

it would appear that hand tools remained essentially the same from

Roman times right up through the 18th century. I own (and use) an all-

metal 17th century corner chisel that is the same pattern as one found

at an excavation at Bath England from it's early tenants.You might want

to do a search at Amazon for a book , I think the title is, The

Mechanick's Excercise by Joseph Moxon. It has a description and some

illustrations of 17th century woodworking tools, as well as some

others. There is also the famous encyclopedias of mechanical trades

published by Diederot in the 18th century. I know that Dover used to

put out a paperback version of these. Good luck.



Robert Mouland

wireharp at ix.netcom.com



From: jklessig at slip.net

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: period carpentry tools, source for pictures of

Date: Sun, 12 Oct 1997 03:55:40 GMT


ALBAN at delphi.COM wrote:

>(Did carpentry tools really change all that much? Mallets are mallets,

>chisels are chisels, and such, after all; and even today a lot of hand-

>working wood tools must look a lot like their predecessors (with the

>exception of power tools, and certain odd items like mortising drills of

>course). I suppose the materials used might be different (oh, for

>example, rubber-coated handles on hammers, fiberglassoid handles for

>chisels) - but have the basic shapes changed all that much?)

>(Carpentry itself did change, of course, with the invention of, and

>different uses for, a number of things like new joints, and new styles,

>and new buildings/furniture/etc. - but did the tools change?)


As far as I can tell there were two distinct changes, the hand tools

today are not as well made (overall) and use more metal, and the saws

are much better now.

All of the period hand saws I have seen pictures of, look like large

serrated kitchen knives. I am talking about hand saws, not bow saws,

which look much the same now as then.


The museum of london has some tools dated to the late roman, The mary

Rose has some carpenters tools, and the Plantain Museum in Antwerp has

some tools from the 1600s (as I recall) all very similar.





From: Esther Heller <munged_name at kodak.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Early wood turning site

Date: Fri, 23 Oct 1998 10:45:01 -0400

Organization: Eastman Kodak Company


Chas wrote:

> I've just updated some pages I set up with images of early turning

> machines. It's located at

> http://www.historicgames.com/lathes/ancientlathes.html


> I'm also toying with the idea of setting up a bulletin board connected

> to it for users of historical lathes since rec.crafts.woodturning seems

> to be all motorized turners. Feel free to let me know if you are

> interested in such a bulletin board.


Well before we have too much duplication of effort, may I point out

some resources already available?


1. The oldtools listserv.  This is a spinoff from rec.woodworking

several years ago, when the hand tool community (Neanderthals)

felt unwelcome by the power toolers (Normites from Norm Abrams).

It is archived at




and it is recommended that one monitor the web site for a while

before subscribing.  There are about 1,000 members and several

are gentles.  If you have no web access email me for the FAQ.  Most

of the tools discussed are post period (Stanley planes) but there

are users of everything and periodic discussions on how to make your

own tools, all of which are of SCA interest.  It is also the best

place I know of to find out how to _do_ something.  Strongly

recommended for all potential members of the interkingdom woodworking

guild. They and we are on the same page.


2. The Electronic Neandethal  This is the grandaddy of all hand tool

websites, and has links to essentially eveything else available that

the owner knows about, and many people feed the owner Neat New Links.




If you set up a bulletin board I would suggest telling the Electronic

Neanderthal owner so that he can set up a link. But I think there

would be far more efficient information transfer if those interested

connected to the larger handtool community of oldtools.  There is

also a side list of about a dozen people on the oldtools listserv who

are building/have built foot powered lathes that discuss _details_

of stuff like how to connect your treadle to the wheel....  


Note that the automatic reply is munged.


Otelia d'Alsace

mka Esther Heller eoh at kodak dot com



Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 20:06:01 -0500

From: rmhowe <magnusm at ncsu.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: "Tooling" tools ..8-)


If you can get your hands on a copy of Lester Griswold's

_Handicraft - Simplified Procedures and Projects_, Prentice Hall,

multiple editions, you will have an excellent book on many crafts.

For leather it gives details on stampmaking, tooling, stitching,

whipmaking, knotting, shoe making, and many projects in its 128

pages on leather alone.


Other subjects include Basketry, Bookbinding, Ceramics, Fabric

decoration, Plastics, Metalwork, Cordweaving, Woodwork, Archery,

Lapidary, Weaving, etc. 480 pages.


For the leather stamps it has them being made of simple 16 and 20

penny nails. Where a vise is not available to hold them the nails are

driven into a short piece of wood, one can presumably split it to

get them out. The basic outside shape would be filed / ground before

driving into the wood to punch. Driving into the endgrain of a small

piece of limb would be fairly ideal. Big enough to hold easily in

your hand to work on, green enough not to split on driving the nail

in initially.


Tools used to punch and shape the nail heads might include some

jeweller's needle files, regular three sided taper files, small round

files, flat files, punches - center and nail punches, grinders and

rotary tools. All that really needs to happen is that the steel be

harder than the leather and not to bend badly under impact. One could

also use various sizes of steel rod cut to length with a hacksaw and

filed/sandpapered smooth before use.


I've personally got a bunch of stainless steel rods and old punches

laid up to tool for various projects. Those will have to be ground.

But ordinary nails don't have to be ground, they can be filed and



I think the idea of using wood for stamps is fairly brilliant Marc.

There are a lot of modelling tools found on various sites but I can't

recall leather stamps.


OTOH I can recall quite clearly that lead, as soft as it is, is used

for punching designs into wax for ceremonial drum casting in S.E. Asia.

It is also speculated that lead was used as a removable, alterable

model for lost model castings in pre-Viking Scandinavia.

I don't think it would hold up too well for punching leather though.


The point is to use a material harder than that you intend to impress

with it. Personally, I have seen damn few woods harder than walnut.

If I were going to carve and beat on a wood common to much of

the continent, I think I should choose that one. I'd just make sure

I rounded the beaten end over, and perhaps wrapped it to prevent

splintering. Hitting with a leather or wooden mallet or striker would

help it last too. You shouldn't even strike regular metal punches with

a metal hammer.


Last week we were discussing wood and linoleum blocks. On looking in

an Index to Handicrafts by Lovell I notice that there is a reference

to an article on embossing leather with linoleum dies. It also occurs

to me that there was an article in Tournaments Illuminated about 10

years ago in which a stone mold was used to make gesso? models to fit

under the leather of a shield which had multiple copies of it. I have

also read of shapes of leather or paper fiber being made to place under

the leather (fairly thin) to mold shapes over. Just recently I got a

new book on Medieval Love which had a numeber of carved and tooled

caskets, some of which were leather. In one case from Switzerland the

leather was both tooled and cut all the way through before being

applied to a wooden casket and painted. In some others the leather was

embossed out by having something placed presumably under it. I should

think that the pressure might be applied much the same way it is in

non flat wood veneering - using a sandbag clamped under a board over

the object covered with the wet leather. (Modern jewelry metal forming

dies use a whole lot more pressure and a polyurethane pressure pad of

durometer 80 instead, but we are talking twenty tons there.)


That book would be _The Medieval Art of Love - Objects and Subjects

of Desire_, by Michael Camille, Harry N. Abrams, Inc. ISBN

0-8019-1554-8. LofCongress 98-17485, 1998. I can tell you now that

most of you lot are going to want it. It is full of illustrations of

medieval mirrors, caskets, embroidered pouches, illuminated pages, a

heart shaped songbook, etc.. I paid about $35 a couple of weeks ago.

There is a good bibliography for tracking down further references to

those same objects included.


Magnus Malleus, OL,  Atlantia, GDHorde



Date: Sun, 06 Dec 1998 13:16:44 -0500

From: rmhowe <magnusm at ncsu.edu>

To: ThorThor at mindspring.com, dss10 at acpub.duke.edu,

sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu,

Subject: Making Engraving Tools from Nails Page




Forgot I had this bookmarked. For those who would like to experiment.





Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 02:52:18 -0500

From: Melanie Wilson <MelanieWilson at compuserve.com>

To: "INTERNET:sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu" <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Medieval Tools


>I would like to ask if anyone knows where I might find information on

>medieval tools.  Specifically, wood cutting tools.


Books on traditional English crafts show a range of hand tools many of

which have changed little over time, I'm not aware of any book specifically

on period tools as the SCA defines period. If you have a more specific

period in mind I might be able to think of something relevant if nobody

else can!


> Were axes and saws period?

Axes were around from Stone age period! Saws are also seen from early on.


The Complete Practical book of country crafts by Jack Hill is my favorite

generally book, it covers materials, tools & devices,horn working,

coppering, sticks, rakes, brooms, hurdles, clog making, turning,carving,

chair making,wheelwrighting,blacsmithing, harness making, basket making,

rush work, thatch & straw work, rope making, brick & pottery, hedging &



A real gem of a book and the instructions are really clear- it is more of a

doing book than list of tools though.


Another general one is The countryman book of village trades and crafts by



Some of the Dorothy Hartley books show traditional crafts too.




Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 11:51:39 -0600

From: "I. Marc Carlson" <LIB_IMC at centum.utulsa.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: RE: Medieval Tools


>I would like to ask if anyone knows where I might find information on

>medieval tools.  Specifically, wood cutting tools...


I'd start with Goodman, W. L., The history of woodworking tools., London:

Bell & Hyman, 1964 (and later editions to at least 1978)





Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 11:32:49 -0500

From: Tom Rettie <tom at his.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu, SCA-ARTS at UKANS.EDU

Subject: Re: Medieval Tools


The gentle Katerina of Dunvegan wrote:

>I would like to ask if anyone knows where I might find information on medieval

>tools. Specifically, wood cutting tools.  Were axes and saws period?  If not,

>what might have been used to fell trees (diameters of 4 inch or less).  I'm

>not sure where to begin my search and any help would be appreciated.


As has been pointed out by others, axes and saws are indeed period.  For

felling trees, the axe was far more common (more specifically, the

"felling" axe, as opposed to a "broad" axe).  While saws were in use

throughout the Middle Ages, they were more commonly used for cutting felled

timbers and boards to length ("cross-cutting" or "bucking") or cutting

boards down their length ("ripping"). I can't recall ever finding a period

source where a saw is used to fell a tree (though that doesn't mean there

aren't any).


Another distinction is that saws are really a hallmark of a professional

carpenter, joiner, etc.  Saws in period had to be cut and filed by hand,

and required specialized tools to maintain.  An axe, on the other hand, was

a common tool and could be maintained with a simple whetstone.


I can offer two works that might be of some use to you.  One is an article

I wrote on 15th century tools for the Atlantian Arts and Sciences magazine.

It is a very high-level introduction to hand tools.  The other is a class

handout I did for an Atlantian University class that is mostly

illustrations. I can send you both in PDF format (Adobe Acrobat's Portable

Document Format -- you can get Acrobat Reader for free from Adobe's

website, in either Windows, Mac, or Unix).


The tools article is about 250 Kb, the Handout is larger, about 800 Kb.  If

you would like to see them and can handle attachments of that size, please

let me know and I will forward them to you.


Findlaech mac Alasdair




Date: Thu, 21 Jan 1999 22:06:44 -0500

From: rmhowe <magnusm at ncsu.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Tools


The gentle Katerina of Dunvegan wrote:

>I would like to ask if anyone knows where I might find information on medieval

>tools. Specifically, wood cutting tools.  Were axes and saws period?  If not,

>what might have been used to fell trees (diameters of 4 inch or less).


Another source she might find interesting is Roy Underhill's The

Woodwright's Work Book" In it he has an anonymous 15th century verse

called the "Debate of the Carpenter's Tools" The tools argue with each

other who most valuable, and Underhill goes through them and attempts to

indentify them with their modern names, or equivalents





Date: Thu, 21 Jan 1999 22:28:38 -0500

From: Carol Thomas <scbooks at neca.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Tools


The book _Medieval Life Illustrations_ has quite a number of pictures of

axes, but I did not spot any saws (while leafing through it quickly).  It

is entirely period woodcut pictures. There are at least 2 different ax head

shapes shown.  Since it is a Dover book, it is probably widely available.



Lady Carllein

Small Churl Books catalog: http://www.neca.com/~scbooks/



Date: Sat, 23 Jan 1999 14:19:34 -0500

From: rmhowe <magnusm at ncsu.edu>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Some parts of a discussion on Lathe Books


Charles and I trade information back and forth, and he sends some to

the Arts list through me, so I don't think he'll mind my sharing this

with you. Most of it is my citations.


Subject: Lathe Books

Chas wrote:

> rmhowe wrote:

> > Sobel machinery  at  201-768-9645 Dave Sobel has at least 50 jeweler's

> > lathes and probably several thousand collets of various sizes......

> > no web site. Sells used machinery too.

> > This guy is _the_ jewelers / clockmakers lathe specialist as far as

> > I have learned from the newsgroups and has an excellent reputation.

> -Actually I was thinking about making a period-style clockmakers lathe

> -Driven by a bow pumped back and forth by hand like a bow drill. Do

> -you think he might be able to point me in the right direction for

> -that?


Can't say for sure, see lower citations:


> I've been thinking it would be more portable than the spring-pole I've

> used for demonstrations at re-enactment events.

> Chas

> --

> MacGregor Games

> Purveyors of historic pastimes to re-enactors around the world

> http://www.historicgames.com


There was also a book about twenty years ago on a family workshop

of clockmakers, cabinetmakers, furniture and such that survived intact

from the eighteenth and early 19th centuries, several generations.

I believe it was entitled By Hammer and Hand. I think the Henry

Ford Museum may have bought the shop entire as it was a one of a kind

survival. I think that is a very good possiblility for your clock

making lathe pictures. Wish I could remember the name of the

family, similar to Tammany but I know that is not it. I don't have that

particular book myself. I suggest Inter Library Loan.


You know I was just thinking that you ought to get copies of Diderot's

Pictorial Encyclopedia of Trades and Industy from Dover Publishing

ISBN 0-486-27429-2 and 27428-4. They show all sorts of machiery

including some fairly advanced lathes from pre-revolutionary France

in great detail. Probably about $45 for the pair which are about 2 1/2"

thick combined. Nearly all illustrations. I looked and there are no

clockmaker's lathes per se. There are a number of other types.

Goldsmith's for example. Volume one was $19.95, volume two was $22.95.

485 plates. Over 2000 illustrations. Fantastic Books.


BTW. Parts of Diderot are also on the market independently from the

two volume set that Dover Books sells, but they cost about $20 a piece

and you'd end up spending several times as much as if you bought the

Dover set. Don't be fooled into doing that. You should be very happy

with the Dover set. I am. And it should be in print.


Dover Publications, Inc.

31 East 2nd St.

Mineola, New York 11501-3582

No phone listed. $5 postage for any order.


The Book of Trades by Jost Amman (Standebuch)

has pictures of gemcutters, woodturners, pewterers, etc. 1568.

Also from Dover 0-486-22886 dunno current price.


Theophilus' On Divers Arts contains a number of instructions and

illustrations of early lathes for such stuff as bellfounding

and pewterturning. Circa 1122.

Dover ISBN 0-486-23784-2


Roman Crafts edited by Donald Strong and David Brown has pictures

of a conjectural Roman lathe for turning metalwork. ISBN 0715607812

probably out of print. Duckworth, The Old Piano Factory, 43 Glocester

Crescent, London, NW1 7DY. My edition is 1976.





Date: Sun, 24 Jan 1999 12:51:55 -0500

From: Tom Rettie <tom at his.com>

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Some parts of a discussion on Lathe Books


>Charles and I trade information back and forth, and he sends some to

>the Arts list through me, so I don't think he'll mind my sharing this

>with you. Most of it is my citations.




One I found recently is in "Venus and Mars, The World of the Medieval

Housebook" (the book for the museum exhibit of the same name that leaves DC

this weekend and is headed to New York). There is a great period

illustration of a lathe circa 1480.  It's also the earliest illustration

I've found of wooden screws used in shop fixtures (I've also found a German

illustration of a workbench face vise circa 1505).




Tom Rettie                                         tom at his.com

Heather Bryden                                 bryden at hers.com




Date: Wed, 28 Jul 1999 09:20:06 -0700 (PDT)

From: Laura C Minnick <lainie at gladstone.uoregon.edu>

Subject: RE: SC - Period Hummus-recipe and a added question


On Wed, 28 Jul 1999, Andy Oppenheim wrote:

> also does anyone know where I can find information on 16 century tools?

> Wasn't shure of where or who to ask


You might try either of :


       Patricia Basing, _Trades and Crafts in Medieval Manuscripts_ (New

Amsterdam Books, New York, 1990)


       Jacques le Goff (ed.), _Medieval Callings_ (University of Chicago

Press, Chicago, 1990)


Not much but it would be a start.



- -

Laura C. Minnick



From: "Esther Heller" <eoh at kodak.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Midieval Varnish

Date: Thu, 16 Sep 1999 13:24:37 -0400

Organization: Eastman Kodak Company


Chris K. Hepburn wrote ...

>When did they start using melted amber (gasp choke) as a varnish?

>I seem to recall hearing they melted down quantities of it in the 1800's to

>finish furniture.  Is this a solely Victorian phenomenon?

>Chris, AB


If you really want details check the North American woodworking magazines

for the past year or so.  The varnish was not _just_ melted amber, but

copal ("young" amber), kauri (some ancient gum from down under?) and

similar were ingredients in older varnish recipes.  There was at least

one major article in the past year or so but I don't recall where and

don't subscribe to all the magazines.  If you are curious the place to

start is Fine Woodworking on Finishing (a collection of article reprints

from the early years of FWW) or anything by George Frank.  Some of the

FWW articles point you to the late 18th-early 19th original sources, Frank

was the end of the later Victorian traditional training.


If you are _really_ curious join the oldtools hand woodworking listserv

(FAQ at http://www.mcs.net/~brendler/oldtools/OTFAQ.htm ) and ask.

They are at least vaguely aware of the SCA, although most of the people

who do the serious study are 100+ years OOP for us.  Given the earliest

how-to book in English is Moxon circa 1700 (haven't gotten far enough

to know if he does finishes, he is the standard source for tools) and

a lot more furniture in North America is post 1700 most of the study

and interest is OOP.  But the tools don't change much from 1700 to post

US Civil war, and I think a lot of the technique goes back centuries.

The Mastermyr find has instantly recognisable drawknives and a scorp,

you can only do certain things with those tools.....  and there are

some _experts_ on how to use the tools on oldtools.





Subject: Re: [medieval-leather] Re: Anyone know anything about this? Viking Boxes

Date: Sun, 26 Dec 1999 15:32:08 -0500

From: rmhowe <magnusm at ncsu.edu>

Organization: Windmaster's Hill, Atlantia, and the GDH

To: medieval-leather at egroups.com


(Master Finnr asked a question about a tool box with a sliding lid.

That incomplete one was in a Celtic book, he wanted a Viking one to

recreate for a leatherworker's tool box.)


I can help you on the Viking sliding lid boxes bit,

the book has several of them, or bits of them, each decorated,

(and even some awls - one with a Dragon head). The boxes were made

of one piece for the body, generally under two inches wide (there

are cm measurements) with a sliding t-shaped lid that goes into

a groove in the box sides. The t-shaped lid is only t-shaped for

a short distance - where the sides are cut out to match the box

top end. Decorated all over generally. I suppose you could

enlarge them or shrink them according to your purposes -

pencases, gift boxes, etc.


                                                    |<-  5cm  ->|

                                                     or a little


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| O <-  hole    top view                       | |   | |  view  | |

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The book also has a number of other artifacts in it like knives

with handles, planes, scraper handle, fancy stopper, weaver's swords,

carved crooks, spindle, toggles, toys, furniture parts, a winder,

shuttle, comb handles (for fiber), saddle bow, strap ends, etc.

There are bone objects also. Both in drawings and b&w photos.


Found mine at http://www.bookshop.co.uk/

Ref. number 558113  Loc.0/43   PB cost me GBP17.66 last March.


National Museum of Ireland

(UK) Mediaeval Dublin Excavations 1962-81 series B., Vol 1 (1988)

_Viking-Age Decorated Wood, A Study of It's Ornament and Style_

By James T. Lang, ISBN HB 0901714682   PB 0901714690

Royal Irish Academy

19 Dawson St.

Dublin 2


Master Magnus Malleus, Atlantia, GDH



To: <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000 17:05:32 -0500

From: rmhowe <magnusm at ncsu.edu>

Subject: Some recent reprints.


For those of you who might be interested in such trivial matters

Dover has reprinted Henry C. Mercer's Ancient Carpenter's Tools.

"Illustrated and Explained, Together with the Implements of the

Lumberman, Joiner, and Cabinetmaker in Use in the Eighteenth Century"


"Classic Reference describes in detail hundreds of implements in use

in the American Colonies in the 18th Century. Over 250 illustrations

depict tools often identical in construction to ancient devices

once used by the Greeks, Egyptians, and Chinese, among them axes,

saws, clamps, chisels, mallets, and much more. An invaluable sourcebook

for antiques enthusiasts and woodcrafters alike. 352pp. 6 1/8 x 9 1/4"

40958-9 Pb $18.95


Dover Publications Inc.

31 East 2nd Street

Mineola, N.Y. 11501-3582


Woodworkers, we ain't got no steenking woodworkers - do we? ;)


Shipping is $5 in the U.S. or 20% of the total overseas.

Of course, these folks will catalog you to death.

But they reprint some good stuff.




Not to be reposted to newsgroups or the rialto, SCA newsgroups are




Date: Mon, 18 Oct 2004 11:27:57 -0400

From: "marilyn traber 011221" <phlip at 99main.com>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] turning hammer?- OT

To: Cooks wihin the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


>> Saint Phlip,

>> CoD, who, after having looked fruitlessly for two years for a turning

>> hammer, was GIVEN one today at he flea market....

> I assume this is some kind of special hammer used for blacksmithing,

> but all I can think of is a spatula.

> Stefan


A turning hammer, Stefan (and Cadoc) is what farrier call it- a rounding

hammer is what smiths call it. I started as a farrier, so...


All it is, is a hammer with one face convex and the other face flat. As soon

as my computer is working again, I'll send a picture. The edges of the face

are radiused so ou don't put dings and creases into the hot metal you're

working, and it's particularly useful for bending steel, as in horseshoes "the hard way", as in edge on, to help make the curve at the toe

of the horseshoe. The head is usually about 32 oz/ 2 lbs-plenty of heft for

a hard blow, but not so heavy it will wear you out (the claw hammers that

everyone uses for carpentry are usually 16 oz, to give you some basis for



The hammer that you use for actually hammering the nails into the shoe and

the hoof is called, oddly enough, a shoeing hammer ;-) and it looks rather

like a claw hammer, and is usually 12-16 ozs. The differences are that the

head is shaped particularly at the hammer end to hit horseshoe nails without

hitting the area around them, and the "claws" are designed to twist and break

off the "points" of the nails in preparation for clinching them over so they

don't pull out of the hoof. It also has a handle made of apple wood (usually)

for additional flex- one of the characterstics of modern horseshoe nails is

that, if hit softly, they go in straight, if hit hard, they curve out (of the



Most horseshoe nails nowadays have a rough spot on one side of the head

(called "city heads") so the farrier can place the nail into the nail hole by

feel, without having to look at it. If you put the nail in so that it bends

in the wrong direction, the nail goes into the soft tissue (rather like the

quick of your fingernail, except much more structurally specialized) you

suddenly have a horse with a very sore foot who now has a puncture wound very

subject to infection- not a good thing.


Saint Phlip,




From: "celia" <c_a_blay at hotmail.com>

Newsgroups: soc.history.medieval

Subject: Re: Small Things

Date: 16 Jul 2006 22:18:44 -0700


William Black wrote:

> > >Medieval carpenters didn't have tool steel,  they had wrought iron tools.

> >

> > I don't think so. The smiths knew how to carburise irons to make

> > steels and there are many examples of laminated iron tools with steel

> > cutting edges.

> Not in Europe.

> I have never seen any mention of a medieval Damacsus steel chissel.

> I'd love to see one,  it would make a lot of things much easier for the poor

> re-enactors...


How's your Latin ?


Mine's non existant but in the Evesham Chronicles is an account

of a layman working for Abbot Manni and using either a chisel

or an engraving tool. (11th c.)


It shows something of the frustrations of trying to find

anything out with insufficient resources that I tried to

translate this passage with a Medieval Latin Word List,

an on line translater, the owner of the village shop who

did Latin at school and had forgotten most of it and a lady

who gave Latin classes once a fortnight in the pub.


I gave up before resorting to the visually handicapped

retired American lawyer.


  I don't know what type of steel it was that inflicted a wound

considered likely to be fatal when it slipped but the tool

was obviously very sharp.


  I posted Godric's Story to shm on May 25th.

As a member of the goldmithing familly he would have worked

with metals and probably also stone and wood.

Alexander Neckham (Paris late 12th c.) says,

" The goldsmith must have a very sharp chisel

with which he can engrave figures of many kinds

on amber, hard stone, marble, emerald sapphire or pearl.....

He must also be as skilled in engraving as well as in bas relief."

It's not difficult to think of Anglo Saxon gold work with fine

sharp engraving on it, what the tools were made of is

impossible to tell, but they could do the job.


I'm sure you've engraved metal, there's a knack to it,

but a sharp tool is essential


Look at Neckham's list, do you believe it ?

Hardstone, emerald and sapphire being engraved

with steel tools in the 12th c.?


How did the Romans produce agate and carnelian cameos ?

Fine, sharp edged, detailed work; how hard is modern steel ?

I guess about moh 6 these stones were moh 7.5 - 8.


My guess is slave labour, a lot of time, and abrasive powder.

This is just guesswork, got any information on the subject ?




From: mmagnusol <mmagnusol at nc.rr.com>

Date: August 28, 2007 8:50:26 PM CDT

To: - Adrian Empire - NC - Shire of Galloway <Shire_of_Galloway at yahoogroups.com>, - Austlend - Vikings-NA in NC List <Austlend at yahoogroups.com>, - Authenticity List <authenticity at yahoogroups.com>, - Baronage of Windmasters' Hill <Baron at windmastershill.org>, - House Bayard <HouseBayard1 at yahoogroups.com>, "- MedievalEncampments at yahoogroups.com" <MedievalEncampments at yahoogroups.com>, - SCA-ARTS <artssciences at lists.gallowglass.org>

Subject: The Mastermyr Project




Lots of images of the articles.

I was the one who got Norm Larson to reprint 2000 copies

of the book.  He got permission to reprint shortly before

Greta Arwidsson died.  The initial printing was only 800 and

that was a hardback.  The reprint is a paperback.  It took me

four years to find an original.  I got the reprint first.


The Mastermyr chest is the greatest assemblage of late Viking

Age tools and cookware.  It probably sank into a bog when a

boat overturned.  With time the peat bog became a meadow

that was being plowed when the tools were discovered.

It is a literal time capsule of locks and keys, the chest, metal

and wood working tools, a folding hanging griddle and cauldron.


You can probably still buy one for yourself.




<the end>

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