Joinery in old mill

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Project by Carey Mitchell posted 10-06-2017 03:20 AM 1403 views 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch

While I didn’t build this masterpiece of woodworking (although sometimes I feel old enough to have been around back then), I found it to be really interesting and thought I would share it.

These photos show some interesting joinery in an old grist mill located in NW GA. It was built in 1876 and is owned by a lifelong friend. His dad got it running back in the 70’s for a while, but could not build a permanent dam in the creek. This made me recall the old wooden dam, which washed out in a flood in the 50’s, if my memory is correct. It was a wood structure about 100 feet long and 15 ft. high, with the face at about a 30 degree slope, so flood waters could simply go over. It was connected to the mill by a sluice dug around the hillside about 4 ft. wide and 15 ft. deep at one point and about 800 ft. long – it is still intact and could carry water today. Imagine digging that with no tools other than picks, shovels and black powder – wonder how long it took?

While I have been through the mill many times since we were kids,this time I began to notice the joinery, especially the quality of the large mortise and tenon joints – obviously why the mill is still standing. All with no power tools.

I noticed the drawbored joints after reading an article on drawboreing tenons in Popular Woodworking; otherwise I might not have noticed.

Nice mortise and tenons were used in some of the “machinery” elsewhere in the mill, as shown in the 3rd photo.

The 4th photo shows a not-so-subtle message about not spitting on the floor. Tobacco juice, I suppose.

The 5th shot shows a workbench in the upstairs. I talked my friend out of the plane on the bench and am restoring it, a Bailey #5. Gave him a later Stanley #5.

You’ll never guess what the last photo shows. This is a replaceable wooden tooth that fits into one of the large wheels underneath the mill. don’t know what specie the wood might be. When I get some time this winter (seems to be a favorite place for copperheads) I will go underneath and get some photos of the huge wood wheels.

6 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20599 posts in 3132 days

#1 posted 10-06-2017 12:16 PM

Nice old woodworking. And they did it without power tools!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View swirt's profile


2786 posts in 2999 days

#2 posted 10-06-2017 01:57 PM

Here’s a nice bit about using wooden teeth for the gears.

-- Galootish log blog,

View helluvawreck's profile


31393 posts in 2893 days

#3 posted 10-06-2017 03:45 PM

This beautiful old building would make a wonderful traditional woodworking shop.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View leafherder's profile


1424 posts in 1979 days

#4 posted 10-06-2017 07:53 PM

They don’t build them like they used to. Thanks for sharing.

-- Leafherder

View Oldtool's profile


2640 posts in 2217 days

#5 posted 10-06-2017 09:06 PM

This would be a great wood shop today, expecially if interested in hand tool work.

Does your friend do work with wood?, if not maybe he’ll let you work there.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Bertha's profile


13529 posts in 2720 days

#6 posted 10-08-2017 10:29 PM

Incredible. Those M/T joints are high end.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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