Woodworking in Afghanistan

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Project by TexasDawg posted 08-16-2009 02:40 PM 3227 views 2 times favorited 24 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Here is a carpenter I ran into here in Afghanistan. They don’t have power here in many places, so he doesn’t carry any power tools in his gunny sack. I managed to get him to pull his tools out for a little photo op. You can do a lot with a little around here. This guy helped me hang a door since they don’t have pre-hung doors and I don’t have much in the tool arena.

I know this is not a project, but he helped me finish one and I thought some might find it interesting.

-- "Counting down the days till I get back to my workshop..."

24 comments so far

View patron's profile


13640 posts in 3547 days

#1 posted 08-16-2009 02:50 PM

i was building a house on an island in columbia , and the carpenters had the same tools .
when i swowed them how to use a skill77 on a generator ,
they would all argue about whos turn it was to straighten the lumber .
snap a line on the crown side , cut , straight scribe other side and cut ,
they also had the only board strecher i’ve seen , lots of hand cut hooked scarf joints !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View Innovator's profile


3584 posts in 3619 days

#2 posted 08-16-2009 02:53 PM

Proves you don’t need expensive tools to get started with woodworking.

I was recently in Grand Turks and not long ago they had a hurricane that did vast damage to the island. A man I spoke to told me they had no power for 8 weeks on most parts of the island and if it weren’t for hand tools they would not have been able to rebuild their towns.

-- Whether You Think You Can or You Think You Can't, YOU ARE RIGHT!!!

View Walnut_Weasel's profile


360 posts in 3428 days

#3 posted 08-16-2009 02:55 PM

And to think I complain about only having a bandsaw, router, circular, and drill. Once again reminding me that I need to learn how to sharpen and use chisels, planes, etc.

-- James -

View gregb's profile


38 posts in 3495 days

#4 posted 08-16-2009 03:39 PM

I spent a year in Iraq and it is amazing what they come up with to accomplish the simplist tasks we take for granted here in the west.

View wwnovice's profile


104 posts in 4392 days

#5 posted 08-16-2009 04:08 PM

Very interesting post. Thanks for sharing!

-- John

View Ben Kahmann's profile

Ben Kahmann

231 posts in 3478 days

#6 posted 08-16-2009 04:20 PM

Yeah it’s amazing for sure what one can do with practically nothing. I think most of us here in the west don’t even have the patience to use only “hand tools” to complete a project. It is a lost art to most of us and I’m a little guilty myself. I was in Honduras, Central America doing some work and they were the same way. Stay safe while your on duty and keep your head down. Thanks for the great post.

-- Ben Kahmann Dayton, OH

View Woodwrecker's profile


4203 posts in 3781 days

#7 posted 08-16-2009 04:50 PM

This was really a cool post. It’s always interesting to see how craftsman apply the trade in other parts of the world. I bet that guy would put me to shame in the hand tool working department.
Thanks for the post, and I echo Ben’s remarks, keep that coconut of yours’ low.

View a1Jim's profile


117342 posts in 3783 days

#8 posted 08-16-2009 04:53 PM

It is amazing

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View bayspt's profile


292 posts in 3910 days

#9 posted 08-16-2009 05:04 PM

I am reminded of the adage that when all you have is a hammer all your problems start to look like nails. Sometimes I think this is a good thing because it is really amazing to see what some people can do with that hammer.

-- Jimmy, Oklahoma "It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing milkbone underwear!"

View Charles Maxwell's profile

Charles Maxwell

1099 posts in 4013 days

#10 posted 08-16-2009 05:42 PM

The best craftsmen in the world use the simplest tools! It’s in the heart, not the tool. More importantly…keep your head on a swivel and return home safe, soon. God bless the US Military in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks for your service to country. You and the wonderful warriors overseas are the next greatest generation! If you ever make to Rochester, NY, there’s a family here with pen arms ready to serve you dinner! Uh Rah!

-- Max the "night janitor" at

View arw01's profile


55 posts in 3819 days

#11 posted 08-16-2009 05:50 PM

Handtools are not always the slowest. A few years back will channel surfing I saw a demonstration by an Afgan woodworking of making a cabriolet leg with an adz. He was done before I could set my tablesaw!

He had even used the adz to scrape it smooth. NO bench, just held out in front of him, and using his legs when he did some of the scraping.


-- No good deed goes unpunished!

View dustyal's profile


1299 posts in 3681 days

#12 posted 08-16-2009 06:24 PM

Perhaps one of the most appropriate posts on LJ’s. I appreciated the reminder. Many of us don’t have the patients to learn hand tools… but I had a recent reminder of the satisfaction I got by sharpening a plane blade and actually getting it to curl back some wood.

Take care over there…

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3476 days

#13 posted 08-16-2009 06:53 PM

My grandfather used mostly hand tools….and in his day a lot of the power tools were in their infancy. He developed an excellent eye for determining whether the wood was square or the joints fit….probably as these folks have learned to do…

The most noteable thing is that people clammer for antiques….pay exhorbitant prices for them….and most of them are hand made….yet they have lasted over the century….whereas I don’t believe most of the mass produced junk today will last a decade….

I bet these fellows can teach alot about joinery….

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View Jamie's profile


172 posts in 3466 days

#14 posted 08-16-2009 06:59 PM

We all know what the mother of invention and ingenuity is.

-- "Preach the gospel always. If necessary use words" -St Francis of Assisi

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Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4168 days

#15 posted 08-16-2009 11:05 PM

good call, TD, thanks

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

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