Historical Reprints Self Improvement/Skills Woodworking Tools 1600-1900

Woodworking Tools 1600-1900

Woodworking Tools 1600-1900
Catalog # SKU2086
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Peter C. Welsh


Woodworking Tools

Peter C. Welsh

This history of woodworking hand tools from the 17th to the 20th century is one of a very gradual evolution of tools through generations of craftsmen. As a result, the sources of changes in design are almost impossible to ascertain. Published sources, moreover, have been concerned primarily with the object shaped by the tool rather than the tool itself. The resulting scarcity of information is somewhat compensated for by collections in museums and restorations.

In this paper, the author spans three centuries in discussing the specialization, configuration, and change of woodworking tools in the United States.


The literature of the subject, both new and old, is sparse, with interest always centering upon the object shaped by the craftsman's tool rather than upon the tool itself. Henry Mercer's Ancient Carpenters' Tools, first published in 1929, is an exception.

It remains a rich source of information based primarily on the marvelous collections preserved by the Bucks County Historical Society. Since 1933, the Early American Industries Association, both through collecting and through its Chronicle, has called attention to the vanishing trades, their tools and techniques; the magazine Antiques has occasionally dealt with this subject. Historians of economic and industrial development usually neglect the tools of the woodcrafts, and when considering the toolmakers, they have reference only to the inventors and producers of machine tools.

The dearth of written material is somewhat compensated for by the collections of hand tools in American museums and restorations, notably those at Williamsburg, Cooperstown, Old Sturbridge Village, Winterthur, the Henry Ford Museum, and Shelburne; at the latter in particular the extensive collection has been bolstered by Frank H. Wildung's museum pamphlet, "Woodworking Tools at Shelburne Museum."

The most informative recent American work on the subject is Eric Sloane's handsomely illustrated A Museum of Early American Tools, published in 1964. Going beyond just the tools of the woodworker, Sloane's book also includes agricultural implements. It is a delightful combination of appreciation of early design, nostalgia, and useful fact.

65+ pages - 10¾ x 8¼, softcover

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