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Forum topic by Ron Aylor posted 11-07-2016 05:51 PM 3564 views 0 times favorited 219 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Ron Aylor

1334 posts in 309 days


11-07-2016 05:51 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question minimlist woodworker hand tools traditional quasi-historical

NOTE: Revised from original post to be more inclusive (thanks, Andy!).
 
 
Trying to determine if there are any minimalist, quasi-historical, hand tool junkies on LJ besides me.

I for one:
  • Work with minimal hand tools, ONLY (no exceptions!)
  • Use period/vintage construction technique
  • Use no modern fasteners (cut nails and screws ONLY, if absolutely necessary!)
  • Work by natural light (or candlelight if need be)
  • Use solid wood ONLY (no ply-wood, particle board, or MDF)
  • Use Animal or Aliphatic resin emulsion glue ONLY
  • Use period/vintage finishing techniques (fuming, traditional stains/dyes, shellac; bees wax, etc.)
And most importantly:
  • Do not falter from above, for ANY reason!
     

SO … how to you fit in?

-- Ron in Lilburn, Georgia.  Knowing how to use a tool is more important than the tool in and of itself.


219 replies so far

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ElroyD

18 posts in 250 days


#1 posted 11-07-2016 06:50 PM

I’m not there yet, but that is my ultimate goal. For the historical part, my target is tools and techniques used in New England during the last quarter of the 18th century (The American Revolution, plus a few years). This includes the clothing, some of which I have being a re-enactor playing a soldier in Col. Seth Warner’s Extra Continental Regiment (aka, The Green Mountain Boys).

Ideally, I’d like to be able to present period woodworking in a living history display setting, such as events at museums and historical forts. That’s a long term goal, though, as I’m just starting out, and using old tools from my grandfather (1930s), supplemented by cheap Home Depot tools that I’ve purchased over the years for various household projects.

For the specific qualifications mentioned:
  • I do work with only hand tools, just not period tools (yet). I’m slowly working on researching and collecting/building a tool set.
  • I’m learning period construction techniques as I go. Currently working on building a 1790s Moravian workbench to replace by 1990s solid core door on sawhorses. The workbench is outside of my New England parameter (it was used in Pennsylvania), but I love the portability of it, which lends itself well to traveling to events.
  • I mostly work by natural light. I was working in the hay storage area of our barn, which didn’t have any lights. Just this morning I moved into the old tack room (to make room for hay), which has a single bulb, but has a great window. Given that it’s getting dark by 4pm these days, I’ll probably use the artificial light through the winter months.
  • I don’t use plywood, but I do use dimensioned lumber, just because I have some laying around. I’m going to be phasing that out as I progress.
  • No animal glues for me yet. I’ve looked into it though.
  • No modern fasteners so far. Just joinery techniques.
  • No period finished yet. I haven’t gotten to the point where I need them.

-- Elroy

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Ron Aylor

1334 posts in 309 days


#2 posted 11-07-2016 07:14 PM

Thanks, Elroy … I knew I would hear from you! Like I said on your workshop/profile page … we are brothers from another mother. I too have done my share of Revolutionary War re-enacting … playing file/drum for the 2nd South Carolina and various other groups at Ninety-Six and Cowpens, SC.

I too would love to have authentic 18th century tools, but they are just too hard to find. So, in the interim I’ll just have to ignore the composite handle on my chisels.

Perhaps this forum/thread can become an oasis for NUTS like us!

-- Ron in Lilburn, Georgia.  Knowing how to use a tool is more important than the tool in and of itself.

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Tim

3401 posts in 1623 days


#3 posted 11-07-2016 08:59 PM

I kind of leaned that way, but then realized I’d get more enjoyment out of enjoying woodworking rather than trying to be purist in some way just for the sake of being pure. I enjoy doing many old time techniques like resawing by hand, hand dimensioning stock, etc. It’s just not fun all the time especially since I have a limited amount of time to do woodworking, I’d never get to try certain projects or techniques if I kept doing everything from dimensioning to joinery all by hand.

That said, I say do whatever you enjoy most and don’t worry if other others disagree. Not much is worse than telling someone else the way they enjoy woodworking is wrong. If someone prefers going all power tools, more power too them. All hand tools or somewhere in between, that’s great too.

Personally I’d like to get as close to going from tree to finishing a fine woodworking project completely without power tools at least once. Fell the tree with an axe or saw, split or saw the planks by hand, etc. I’d even like to try it with only tools I’d blacksmithed myself, and even better if I made the steel for the tools from iron ore. So the question is where do you stop? For me it’s when it’s not fun anymore.

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Ron Aylor

1334 posts in 309 days


#4 posted 11-07-2016 09:20 PM

Thanks, Tim … I definitely understand the time thing, but for me the doing is more enjoyable than the project in and of itself.

Please do not take me the wrong way … I am not saying anyone is wrong for using power tools … and I’m by no means trying to be a purist … just searching for like minds!

I too would like to take a project from tree to finished project … with that said I am currently in the planning stages of a saw pit (or a trestle) in my backyard … I just need to convince my wife to be the pit-man!

-- Ron in Lilburn, Georgia.  Knowing how to use a tool is more important than the tool in and of itself.

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Craftsman on the lake

2673 posts in 3099 days


#5 posted 11-07-2016 09:49 PM

I go a step further. I work only in white pine and use only my teeth. I assemble lumber using only nails and my forehead. I often don’t feel well. I think it’s the dust.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

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ElroyD

18 posts in 250 days


#6 posted 11-07-2016 10:06 PM


I too would like to take a project from tree to finished project … with that said I am currently in the planning stages of a saw pit (or a trestle) in my backyard … I just need to convince my wife to be the pit-man!

Too bad we don’t live closer together. I’ve had that same thought. You would have really enjoyed Fort Ticonderoga a few years ago. They had our unit building soldiers huts using period techniques, including a saw trestle. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it that weekend, so all the other guys got to have all the fun. There are some nice photos from the event though: http://www.warnersregiment.org/Gallery/Fort%20Ti,%20Building%20Soldier's%20Huts%202014/album/index.html

-- Elroy

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mike02130

159 posts in 334 days


#7 posted 11-07-2016 10:32 PM

I qualify if I move my shop out of the basement and into the light. Getting too cold now here in Boston.

-- Google first, search forums second, ask questions later.

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Ron Aylor

1334 posts in 309 days


#8 posted 11-08-2016 12:09 AM


I too would like to take a project from tree to finished project … with that said I am currently in the planning stages of a saw pit (or a trestle) in my backyard … I just need to convince my wife to be the pit-man!
Too bad we don t live closer together. I ve had that same thought. You would have really enjoyed Fort Ticonderoga a few years ago. They had our unit building soldiers huts using period techniques, including a saw trestle. Unfortunately I couldn t make it that weekend, so all the other guys got to have all the fun. There are some nice photos from the event though: http://www.warnersregiment.org/Gallery/Fort%20Ti,%20Building%20Soldier s%20Huts%202014/album/index.html s%20Huts%202014/album/index.html

- ElroyD

Great photos, Elroy … thanks for sharing!

-- Ron in Lilburn, Georgia.  Knowing how to use a tool is more important than the tool in and of itself.

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Ron Aylor

1334 posts in 309 days


#9 posted 11-08-2016 12:16 AM



I qualify if I move my shop out of the basement and into the light. Getting too cold now here in Boston.

- mike02130

I like the statement: If the tool was invented after the Depression, I don’t need it. Have you gotten your 19th century lathe up and running? If so, how do you power it? I would love to have my shop close to running water and have belt driven machines.

-- Ron in Lilburn, Georgia.  Knowing how to use a tool is more important than the tool in and of itself.

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Ron Aylor

1334 posts in 309 days


#10 posted 11-08-2016 12:23 AM



I go a step further. I work only in white pine and use only my teeth. I assemble lumber using only nails and my forehead. I often don t feel well. I think it s the dust.

- Craftsman on the lake

So Daniel, what’s all that equipment for; or, are you sharing shop space? LOL!!

-- Ron in Lilburn, Georgia.  Knowing how to use a tool is more important than the tool in and of itself.

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Don W

18314 posts in 2229 days


#11 posted 11-08-2016 01:22 PM

Interesting. I’d burn my shop down with candles for sure.

Are all of the tools period correct as well, so all wooden planes etc?

-- http://timetestedtools.net - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

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Ron Aylor

1334 posts in 309 days


#12 posted 11-08-2016 01:47 PM


Interesting. I d burn my shop down with candles for sure.

Are all of the tools period correct as well, so all wooden planes etc?

- Don W

Unfortunately no … at least as far as my shop is concerned. For the most part my tools date from the late 19th century to perhaps the 1950s. I do have a few things much newer but emulating older design/technology … thus the quasi-historical disclaimer.

-- Ron in Lilburn, Georgia.  Knowing how to use a tool is more important than the tool in and of itself.

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theoldfart

8699 posts in 2113 days


#13 posted 11-08-2016 01:54 PM

I will watch this thread with interest. I use two tailed apprentices, a 14” band saw and a lunchbox planer, everything else is hand tools. Most of my tools are “local” since I live in Western Mass, home to a lot of long gone tool manufacturers. My shop is in the cellar so the darkness is authentic! No candles since like Don, I’d burn down my house. I am contemplating a post and beam shop in the next few years, just not looking forward to moving my bench up the stairs.

-- "With every tool obtained, there is another that is needed" DonW ( Kevin )

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Ron Aylor

1334 posts in 309 days


#14 posted 11-08-2016 02:25 PM

DonW ( Kevin ) – Welcome … nice bench! We just need to wean you off that band saw and planer … that is unless they are human powered in some way … LOL! I have been looking through on old catalogue of “human powered” table saws … too much metal for me; need to figure out how to make one out of wood … akin to my drill press!

-- Ron in Lilburn, Georgia.  Knowing how to use a tool is more important than the tool in and of itself.

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WillliamMSP

1080 posts in 1266 days


#15 posted 11-08-2016 02:39 PM

Y’all are nuts.

I love it.

-- Practice makes less sucky. (Bill, Minneapolis, MN)

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