Though the tools I now reach for, are not the same as in years past, and the ones I reach for today probably will not be the same a year from now, my axes will always be at hand.
While they are not the rarity amongst framers they once were, I don't think they are as commonly used as they probably should be. The reason for this I think, is twofold, it is simply not understood by many that in capable hands axes are an extremely efficient way to cut timber joinery. Even with those that have some sense of this, there is I think some reluctance in that the investment in training is greater, it simply takes longer to reach the skill level where efficiency really kicks in, and that greater investment can any day, just walk out the shop door...
The flipside of that seems to be that folks who work in these circumstances tend to stick, and turnaround seems to cycle slower in such shops. Haven't put my finger on exactly why. Is it job satisfaction or an understanding that their skillset is maybe not salable to the shop a few towns over, or some combination thereof ???
I had the good fortune, along with Laura Viklund, Jordan Finch and Timberbee, to spend four days working with Petr at Handshouse a few years back. I cut shoulders to the line with my axes (like in the video link) that weekend and enough times since to know I can do it efficiently, but it will not be an every day technique for me, while axes will continue to be.http://www.handshouse.org/zabludow/coursework.html
Interestingly, a friend brought me to a number of late 19th ca. scribed, ax-cut, lap joinery barns in central Wisconsin. It seems some fully trained eastern European carpenters emigrated and just continued to use the skills and tools they brought with them. Their carpenters marks were much like those in the pictured at the top of this page - http://www.dalzielbarn.com/pages/TheBarn/NorthAmericanBarns.html
Though ofttimes the corner chisel cut flags were not flags at all, but just a series of triangles.
Jim – I took note of your suggestion that Jack wishes to be informed of errors or omissions for a followup volume of HATJ – Central WI is also plumb full of edged halved scarfs with bladed & bridled abutments. There is the suggestion in HATJ that they are not commonly found in historical frames. How do we update him – hardcopy photographs and snailmail ?