Reprinted from Newsletter 118,  Winter 2012
 You can see Roy Underhill's article on the poem itself, published in Newsletter 118 here
John Clark
 
I was pleased to see that NL 118 reprinted Roy Underhill’s version of the anonymous poem of about 1500 known as “The Debate of the Carpenter’s Tools”, accompanied by his fascinating little drawings of the tools. His article was also included in Eighteenth-Century Woodworking Tools: Papers Presented at a Tool Symposium, May 19-22, 1994 edited by Jay Gaynor for Colonial Williamsburg in 1997, together with an introduction and comments on the identifications of some the tools. And those who want to try their hand at reading the original Middle English version (from a manuscript in the Bodleian Library, Oxford) will find it on-line at http://www.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/teams/sgas16int.htm.

Something different for the New Year: two Sumitsubo墨壷 (すみつぼ) (Japanese ink pots) from my collection.

In this article I will be discussing four minor plane makers located in Bath, Somerset, about whom very little has previously been known. Strictly speaking only two, John Debank and John Baker, actually made planes; the other two, Stephen Waller and Joseph Swetman, were ironmongers who sold planes bearing their own name, without the name of the man who made them stamped upon the plane.

I recently bought a bound copy of the Woodworker from 1959 and was intrigued to see that they had run a series of pictures of interesting old tools, inviting readers to write in and identify them.

The photographs here throw a tiny light on an aspect of warfare which is seldom talked about - the support systems for the actual fighting. We are so used to seeing images of men going over the top to their death that it is easy to forget that huge numbers lived and worked behind the lines, building shelter, feeding the troops, laying rail and road ways and transporting materials.

I thought you were using your antique turning heel tool upside down.

I treat all these old articles, and especially illustrations, with extreme caution. Many of them, if not all, were written and drawn by professional writers and illustrators, not professional tradesmen, turners, in this case.

The David Stanley auction catalogue for the sale in September 2014 included lot 123 described as "A rare pair of 18/19c lathe tools with birch stocks and hand forged irons probably for turning bowls." I thought I had a better idea of what they were and that it was nothing to do with making bowls.

by Sir Stephen Tallents

(This article first appeared in Strand Magazine, July 1947)

Writing as gracefully as the man with the scythe works, a distinguished countryman discusses one of the great and beautiful arts of the fields.

You’re in a tool auction, or an antique shop, and you pick up a saw with the name of a maker you don’t recognise. What might that name signify? Does it imply that behind it lay a firm where the materials, tools, and skilled manpower existed to make saws?

Although eighteenth century woodworking tools survive in surprising numbers, they are mainly found to be specialised types whose slumber in their owners' tool chests was rarely disturbed, like panel-fielding planes, moulders, or gouges. Everyday tools such as hand saws, hones and mallets are rarities, simply because they wore out.

In this video, TATHS President Jane Rees explains the joy of collecting tools. It was recorded at the TATHS stand at "Treefest" at Westonbirt Arboretum, in August 2013.

Probably invented in the 16th century, the carpenter's rule was a device to help a man who could not multiply to find the area or the volume of his timber. In its original form, it gave at a glance either the length to make a square foot of a board of given width, or the length to make a cubic foot of a piece of square (or equivalent square) cross-section.