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Joinery with an axe #21489 10/22/09 01:03 PM
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Housewright Offline OP
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In american carpentry of the 17th and 18th centuries an axe was used much more in cutting joinery than one might imagine. Here is a video if a tenon being cut with an axe in Europe.

http://www.en.charpentiers.culture.fr/thepeople/portraits/petrruzickaczechcarpenter

Jim


The closer you look the more you see.
"Heavy timber framing is not a lost art" Fred Hodgson, 1909
Re: Joinery with an axe [Re: Housewright] #21494 10/22/09 02:38 PM
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frwinks Offline
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I'm sure if NA axes looked/felt/performed anything like Eurpean axes, a lot more people would still be using them grin
btw, that's one of fav sites to visit, a lot of great info, old pics and interviews with European masters


there's a thin line between hobby and mental illness
Re: Joinery with an axe [Re: frwinks] #21497 10/22/09 03:07 PM
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TIMBEAL Offline
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I cut to the line with my axe, sometimes I have to force myself to but the axe down and pick up the slick to make it look pretty. I have tried to cut braces as well with just the axe, you can rough out the length with the 45 degree angle on the end and even cut the shoulder but the sawn shoulder is smoother.

Another tool I am starting to use more is the gutter adze, it is like a huge scrub plane, across the grain and with the grain.

One of the first things I look for in old buildings which have come down with an excavator is joinery with axe marks, I see some that is rough but mostly that which the worker took more time with. It is all still fine work in my book.

I haven't seen the video but will check it out later when my server is operating better.

Tim

Re: Joinery with an axe [Re: TIMBEAL] #21512 10/22/09 07:15 PM
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Thane O'Dell Offline
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I love my axe. It's one of my most used tools.
To cut tennons I make one saw cut, block off with axe, score with axe then pare with slick. Takes only a few of minutes.
It would take some practice to cut to a line with an axe. I'm nowhere near that good.


Life is short so put your heart into something that will last a long time.
Re: Joinery with an axe [Re: Thane O'Dell] #21526 10/24/09 06:20 PM
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Cecile en Don Wa Offline
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Doing some cabinetry last winter I sawed shoulders for tenons and set the bit of the carpenters axe on the cheek line at the end grain and whacked it with a carving mallet. But I didn't like hammering on the poll so I quit that. But every chance I get to do joinery with an axe I do, just wish I were better at it.
This is not really related to anything here, just wanted to try adding a picture of this old axe.
Don Wagstaff

Re: Joinery with an axe [Re: Cecile en Don Wa] #21527 10/24/09 07:37 PM
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Ken Hume Offline
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Hi Don,

What wood is the axe handle made from ?

Which way is the grain running ?

How did you manage to break it ?

Regards

Ken Hume


Looking back to see the way ahead !
Re: Joinery with an axe [Re: Ken Hume] #21528 10/24/09 08:42 PM
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Cecile en Don Wa Offline
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Hi,
You know, I just picked this up a few weeks ago at a tool auction, cost me 15€. The first time I swung it, saw the head was loose and wedged it. I could see the handle was an odd looking wood, clearly a replacement, and after another couple of swings the thing broke there. I was splitting poplar with it, the head got stuck in there and broke off as I pulled it loose. I wrote the folks who I'd gotten it from, not to complain or anything you understand, just to let them know these tropical hardwoods might not be the best woods for replacement handles.
Usually I have a supply of dried, riven ash on hand for tool handles, ( I hang it in the chimney for a few weeks- there where they used to smoke the hams,(any thoughts on that practice) - to dry after it's been outside a year or so), but my supply is used up, it's time to go back out to the woods and cut more. There is that ash out back though...

Don Wagstaff

p.s. Just got back from the Ardennes. Saw some fine timber work down there.

Re: Joinery with an axe [Re: Cecile en Don Wa] #21529 10/24/09 10:36 PM
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TIMBEAL Offline
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The video sequence was inspirational. It was cool to hear this fellows story. The axe as a language, it is like learning a new language, something that should not be lost. I am doing my part.

Tim

Re: Joinery with an axe [Re: TIMBEAL] #21530 10/25/09 01:07 AM
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Mark Davidson Offline
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thanks for the video link, this is the first time i have seen an axe similar to the one I've been working with. Axes and Adzes remove wood quickly.

Re: Joinery with an axe [Re: Mark Davidson] #21531 10/25/09 03:42 PM
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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 ?


"We build too many walls and not enough bridges" - Isaac Newton

http://bridgewright.wordpress.com/

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