Hand Tools

Certainly correct, Bill

Wiley Horne
I spent a big part of this morning looking through the internet for old-tyme woodworking prints. Found 100’s of them. Not one even showed joinery sawing, though a couple showed the saw (e.g., Melancholia by Albrecht Durer). No drawer making in sight.

Most benches had some kind of vise, though there were also planing slabs where workers were planing into stops (no vise involved). A very few benches had more than one vise, such as a tail + vise at left front. Very few likewise had double screws. More typical was a single wooden screw at left front, with 1 or 2 wooden guide rods parallel to the screw. A few leg vises. Roubo showed a very large husky double-screw with a log captured in it vertically, and two guys sawing that log into veneers with a very big frame saw.

What I gathered was that, if a joinery-sawing task came along, they would use what they had to hand—whatever vise was already on their bench. It wouldn’t be so difficult—even on a single-screw vise, they could shim the offside to prevent racking. And they might have avoided fixturing to transfer marks by going pins first and hand-holding like some do to this day (Frank Klausz).

Also, must bear in mind that dovetailing drawers is not ancient—Jeffrey Green says toward end of !600’s in the American colonies. Before that, the sides were rabbeted into the front, and nailed.

So looks to me you are exactly right. If you wanted a wooden screw made, either you made it yourself, or if in London or someplace where there were specialists, you paid that guy. Either way, it would have been a big deal, expensive in time or money.

In fact, I am still wondering how some of those guys worked big heavy wooden screws right into the edge of a 4-5 inch thick benchtop! Like the doublescrew Roubo showed. Or on the front cover of The Workbench Book. Its a blind threading that must have gone better than a foot into the benchtop.

Anyway, the data I can find leads me to your conclusion.


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