Sunday, April 15, 2018

Stone Age Woodworking Tools??

I have been following Christopher Schwarz's research into early woodworking benches for some time.  I admire his dedication to travel and study Medieval and Roman woodworking tools and benches to understand the history of our craft.

I have been focused during my career on the post Renaissance woodworker, so each time Christopher posts something I am fascinated by the "new" evidence he presents of "old" work.

His post today just stopped me cold.  Never in my imagination did I think that Stone Age people would make something sophisticated using stone tools!  It was normal to think of them throwing spears at mastodons or using rocks to crush bones or something primitive like that.  But to think of them making a mortise or cutting down a large tree with a stone tool?  Not possible.

Just watch this video for your self:  Stone Age Woodworking

Just one question:  When I need to sharpen my stone axe, do I use a water stone or an oil stone???

POSTSCRIPT:  If this interests you just go to YouTube and search for "Primitive Technology."

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ok. This was a fantastic article. Thank you. I really hope that Lost Art Press makes a book that details this era of woodworking.

Sincerely,
Joe

Steve D said...

I actually took a class called "Primitive Technology" as an anthropology elective. I was considering a minor but ended up with a double major in something else.

I was surprised that stone would be useful for the kind of work shown in the article. Cleaving stone can produce very sharp edges useful for skinning animals or cutting flesh but I wasn't expecting the toughness for notching wood. My guess was bone (yes, I ignored the headline on the schwartz blog). I would expect bone to be useful for gouging type tools but also to be capable of producing saws or drill implements.

If you ever encounter a beaver's freshly cut timber you'll see how clean the cuts are. It's remarkable and teeth are a lot like sharpened bone.

Larry said...

You don’t have to go to Europe and dig for 6000 year old tools. The Neolithic age was only 200 years ago here in the Pacific NW.

All you have to do is go to a museum in Portland, Seattle, Victoria, or Vancouver to see relatively new bone and stone carving tools from the contact period only two centuries ago. Beaver teeth made great adzes for carving the 300 foot long houses, totem poles and canoes are still around. The Portland Art museum has a gorgeous straight adze carved from elk bone. A bone tool very like the chisel in the video is at Fort Clatsop, where Lewis and Clark overwintered.

Some of those tools made it back to the British Museum, for those on the other side of the pond.

Sparks said...

Relatively sure you *can* carve a mortice with a stone chisel. Ours are a lot easier and prettier but, here's video of someone doing it in the field:
https://youtu.be/BN-34JfUrHY?t=2m6s

And that's just cutting one to make an axe, but in several other videos he does this repeatedly to build wooden shelters and so forth.

Now dovetails, there you're on your own :D