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Dustin Faulkner




Location: BOERNE, TX
Joined: 20 Jul 2008

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 118

PostPosted: Fri 06 Jan, 2012 6:38 pm    Post subject: Medieval/Renaissance methods inquiry         Reply with quote

Hello:

One of my hobbies is woodworking. I enjoy making items like a blanket chest or coffee table with my limited tools. Right now, I am making a sofa/hall table.

I was wondering how people made furniture and lumber before electrically powered tools - especially during medieval and renaissance times. There were some real masters back then. I'd say they were equally skilled with the armour makers we often discuss on this site. Somehow planks were made for ships. Houses were built. Simple and elaborate furniture was made.

Does anyone know if there are any books about medieval/renaissance furniture and woodworking methods - or any books discussing how to do woodworking by hand? I am curious. For example: how did you get a wood panels planed back then? How did they make joints? How did they make glues and clamps? How did they drill holes? How did they make their tools? What tools did they use?

For some reason I don't wan't to take electricity for granted. It would be nice to know how things were done the old way. I am also curious if any books exist about how food was preserved & cooked, and how textiles were made. Frankly, I am amazed some people had such elaborate clothes back then, but how did poor people get clothes too?

I am simply curious about how things were made without electricity, but I fear this inquiry is too broad. So I'll stay with my inquiry about med/ren. furniture, lumber, and woodworking. I have a friend with a dead oak tree that would be fun to cut into planks and make something with it besides firewood.

Thank you!

DUSTIN FAULKNER
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David Hohl




Location: Oregon
Joined: 07 Feb 2011

Posts: 57

PostPosted: Fri 06 Jan, 2012 7:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

One of the books I've found to be really informative is Eric Sloane's "A Reverence for Wood". It's not Medieval or Renaissance (mostly it deals with 18th century woodworking) but it describes techniques with a variety of tools that date back well past the medieval era. I think the biggest difference regarding your interests is that saws were much less common for general work. Trees were felled with axes, and planks split out using wedges along the length of the log. This of course necessitated much closer attention to the grain characteristics of the tree, as opposed to sawing which can produce a piece of the required dimensions from any piece of wood. If you look for books dealing with hand tools such as axes and hand planes, which were very familiar Medieval tools, I think you'll find a lot of information.
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D. Phillip Caron




Location: Arcadia, FL
Joined: 28 Dec 2011
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Posts: 115

PostPosted: Fri 06 Jan, 2012 8:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the 70's and 80's there was a series of books called the "Foxfire" series. It was started by a high school teacher in Applicatia. It deals with how people in the mountains did things in the old way where there was no electricty. Each student picked a topic, talked to relatives, and wrote a section about how it was done. One piece was on a foot pedal lathe,another on how to make a banjo. There were about 20 volumnes all toll before the public lost interest. This may be a place to find what you want. Amazon would be a fine place to look. I hope this is helpful. Turns out I still have books one and three. Book one is titled "The Foxfire Book". Book three tells how to build a lumber klin, and it is also the one with the banjo in it.
The first casualty of battle is bravado, the second is macho.
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Julian Reynolds




Location: United Kingdom
Joined: 30 Mar 2008

Posts: 271

PostPosted: Sat 07 Jan, 2012 2:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A good starting point for info on this subject is 'Constucting Medieval Furniture' and 'Medieval Furniture - Plans and Instructions for Historical Reproductions' by my ex-fencing master Mark Donnelly (and Daniel Diehl). They give a good layman's introduction with lots of construction information.

Another good book on the techniques used back then is 'Old Ways of Working Wood' by Alex Bealer (as well as his blacksmithing book, also worth getting).

I also do historical woodwork, though I tend to shy away from large pieces of furniture. It will take you a lifetime (possibly several!!) to learn all the techniques you inquire about..... One thing you do need in spadefuls is patience. Electricity has been fundamental in cutting down the build time on such projects; nothing made the old way was done quickly unless you really were the master of your skill....or had many apprentices!

Good luck in your search,

Julian


Last edited by Julian Reynolds on Sat 07 Jan, 2012 2:45 am; edited 1 time in total
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David GaŠl




Location: Hungary
Joined: 26 Mar 2011

Posts: 104

PostPosted: Sat 07 Jan, 2012 2:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello

Watch that video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbCpDsxUHVc
I have a book about furniture joinery and wood decoration work in the past and now(not now because the book had been published in 1980 Happy) the bad about it is that it's only in hungarian language but I will try to scan some picture from it about tools and methods.

Good topic I'm interested in the same things too.

David
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Olov Tidemalm





Joined: 11 Jul 2008

Posts: 53

PostPosted: Sat 07 Jan, 2012 2:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://www.nuernberger-hausbuecher.de/
Here is one of my favourite resources.


Last edited by Olov Tidemalm on Sat 07 Jan, 2012 4:14 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Julian Reynolds




Location: United Kingdom
Joined: 30 Mar 2008

Posts: 271

PostPosted: Sat 07 Jan, 2012 3:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've had a root around in my library for more resources:

For a comprehensive overview of medieval crafts and techniques, across a broad spectrum from wood, clay, iron, stone, cloth, glass etc. etc. you should try 'English Medieval Industries' edited by Blair and Ramsey (ISBN 1852853263).

For medieval illustrations of tools and techniques, used in practically all of the construction/carpentry/masonry industries, you should try 'Medieval Building Techniques' by Gunther Binding (ISBN 0752428829). I have used this book as a source for making copies of medieval tools for living history demonstrations.

Lots of info there for you to look at.

Julian
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Joel Minturn





Joined: 10 Dec 2007

Posts: 232

PostPosted: Sat 07 Jan, 2012 8:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://vstr1.nebula.fi/?id=5790585-1252308059...=1&p=1 From this blog: http://perkelesblog.blogspot.com/ shows some traditional Finish wood working skills. It doesn't have sounds but still interesting to watch and guess what he is making.
http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB3/viewto...p;t=142222 I found it from Armour Archive and they have some discussion on what is being made and some of the translations.

You asked about glues
http://www.rocks4brains.com/glue.pdf is one of the better resources I have found detailing natural glues and includes recipes. For wood working there are two main types of glues, Hide glues and Cheese (Casein) glues. Both have advantages and disadvantages and therefor both have a place in the wood workers too box. Side note, Elmer's glue has a cow on the front because it is a Casein glue made from milk not a hide glue.
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