Taths logoTools and Trades History Society


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.

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.

Carpenter's rule

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.

Cock-bead fillister

Amongst the extensive kit of cabinet-maker's tools in the 1797 Seaton tool chest1 are two of the relatively rare2 planes known as cock-bead fillisters.

short moulding planes

What was behind the short form of moulding plane sometimes encountered?


The turn of the millennium saw the publication of two timely little books on screws and the tools to tighten or remove them.


This is a guide to help an inexperienced collector identify trade tools. The word "trade" encompasses a wide range of activities – but for the purposes of this article, trade tools are considered to be implements or devices that augment our dexterity to accomplish a task or to carry out a job.

stone saw

This account sets down most of what is known on this topic and has been written in the hope of obtaining some useful feedback. Bath stone is a relatively soft oolitic limestone of Jurassic age, Its older name of freestone means it can be freely worked by hand tools; there is no plane of cleavage.

Salisbury Cathedral

When the spire of Salisbury Cathedral was completed in about 1310 it was the tallest stone structure in Europe and it remained so for a hundred and fifty years. After the demise of Lincoln and Old St. Pauls it was the tallest building in England.

 If you would like to make a donation to TATHS click on the donate button   DONATE   Thank you.