You Could Chop Down Some Trees Or Build A Cabin Or Something
August 13, 2012 12:09 PM   Subscribe

Yesteryear's Tools is an Internet Magazine that concentrates on hand tools, the toolmakers and the tool distributors that operated mostly between the mid-1800s and mid to late-1900s. Particular attention centers upon the markings and labels of such makers and distributors, specifically those that can be classified as manufacturers and/or major distributors.

The US Forest Service's An Ax to Grind: A Practical Ax Manual

A list of Current Axe Manufacturers.

The Saw Set Collector's Resource, a resource for anyone interested in collecting saw sets as a hobby or as a general resource for anyone of interest. There are presently over 250 pictures of different patented and non-patented saw sets on this site.

Antique Farm Tools lists antique agricultural hand tools collected by P.C. Dorrington (e.g., chaff cutters, dibbers, flails, etc.) originating mainly from England, Wales and Scotland.

Sindelar Tool Museum & Education Center (autoplay music)

old tools previously: 1, 2, 3, 4.
posted by zamboni (16 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Alternative title: No New Axes.
posted by zamboni at 12:16 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nick Clegg is one of yesterday's tools. But he's not been featured yet. Disappointing..
posted by MajorDundee at 12:26 PM on August 13, 2012

Even though no one axed, I will recommend The Ax Book.
posted by resurrexit at 12:40 PM on August 13, 2012

That really is an enormously impressive web sight...
posted by Naberius at 12:57 PM on August 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Terrific post but I had to flag it* for having too much axe grinding.

*as a fantastic post!
posted by Talez at 1:16 PM on August 13, 2012

Naberius beat me to it. What a sight!
posted by Uncle Grumpy at 1:28 PM on August 13, 2012

Thanks for this, swinging an axe is a therapeutic thing. I don't have a cause to do it nearly enough these days.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:59 PM on August 13, 2012

There's no tool like an old tool.
posted by Danf at 2:13 PM on August 13, 2012

Excellent post,but I cannot imagine the number of puns which will follow :)
posted by Isadorady at 2:14 PM on August 13, 2012

This is just great. What a fabulous post1
posted by OmieWise at 2:53 PM on August 13, 2012

When a falling tree fell in the woods, unheard, alongside my ruinous mountain cabin, it not only ripped the power line down—it actually tore the meter off the ruinous flank of the ruinous cabin and flung it into the woods like a slingshot. As it happened, Allegheny Power decided that this amputation constituted an abandonment of the grandfather clause that allowed the tangled electrical network of my place to stay connected, and they informed me that I needed to meet current standards, with an elevated metal pole and new everything and countless hours of time from electrical contractors who bill for every one of the fifty miles they would drive to get there, and I just couldn't afford it, so I settled into a sullen sulking state of despair, then decided to go off-grid for the foreseeable future.

I have a substantial collection of great old hand tools, but this was the occasion for me to pick up a nicely restored bit and brace and a variable-geared hand-cranked drill, and I find I use them more at home, even when I've got an outlet three feet away. It's slower work, to be sure, but there's just something so rewarding about the simple physicality of the action. Things end up being less uniform, more custom-fitted, and just have a character that occasions a certain glow.

In the end, the off-the-grid microcabin I'm building to perch in the woods alongside the ruinous cabin is a project I'm doing at home, working with a panelized modular system so I can finish the whole thing, then dismantle it, load it into the back of my truck, and put it together on-site in an afternoon, but I'm glad that moment of desperate improvisation led me to acquaint myself with the particular pleasure of the tools that built this country before we went industrial with it all.
posted by sonascope at 2:59 PM on August 13, 2012

What a cool site; thank you for posting this.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:10 PM on August 13, 2012

My great-grandfather was patternmaker in South Wales smack bang in the middle of the years that this magazine is interested in. I've inherited a few of his tools, including a bronze spokeshave. The blade on the spokeshave has been sharpened down to a nub by first my great grandfather, grandfather, then my father and then me. I eventually took it to a specialist woodworking tool place and tried to get a new blade for it.

I showed the bearded counter guy the tool and he furrowed his brow and called another bearded guy over. Within minutes I had about half a dozen bearded guys all fussing over the spokeshave and talking excitedly. It turns out, they explained, that my spokeshave had the appearance of some rare-as-hens-teeth spokeshave, only that it was made in bronze and not in cast iron like they were normally made.

I called my dad that night and asked him about it. Turns out that his grandfather had borrowed someone else's spokeshave and liked it so much that he decided to make a pattern from it and cast his own. He was casting a lot in bronze at the time, so he used what was available.

I'm not much of a woodworker - I mainly build things in metal. But when I had to re-shape some wooden file handles a while back, this was the tool I reached for. The bronze handles are polished to a mirror finish from four generations of my family's hands. There is just a ghost of an imprint of his stamp on the inside of one of the handles: F.MARSH. And I get more pleasure from using this than any other tool I own.
posted by tim_in_oz at 4:50 PM on August 13, 2012 [6 favorites]

Tim, there's a good chance that that rather than making a pattern to mimic the original spokeshave, he just used made a sand mold from the spokeshave itself. There's no need for a dedicated pattern for such a simple shape (I am a former pattern maker).
posted by jon1270 at 7:01 PM on August 13, 2012

I love hand tools. I have a few saws, planes, a brace and bits, drawknife, axes, and such that my grandfather gave me, which had been handed down through the generations. As Tim says, the handles are polished smooth from decades of use, and something just feels right about producing a project with them.

Mostly I love the way these old tools smell; the combination of wood and oiled metal reminds me of my gun safe.
posted by xedrik at 9:01 PM on August 13, 2012

Just read this Pablo Neruda poem and it brought back memories of the love of hand tools.
posted by Isadorady at 9:31 AM on August 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

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