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Bob Burgess has kindly allowed us to reprint his 2012 article on Mortising Axes, Twybills and the like. Well worth a read. To read the original article, please click here

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.

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

Waller plane

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.

sash shave

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.

Arising from my continuing research into the convoluted and fascinating world of British adjustable spanners, towards my completing an extensive Supplement to my book, I am commenting on a catalogue item in 'Catalogues on Disc No.2', 'Governor / Trojan / EC Atkins (not dated) 124 pages'.

soldiers with saws

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.

incorrect use of heel tool

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.

heel tool in use on lathe

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.

Saw trade mark

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?

smoothing plane

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.

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