Truly old school woodworking

comments (22) March 16th, 2009 in blogs, videos

MKenney Matthew Kenney, special projects editor
thumbs up 236 users recommend

Video Length: 14:51

I came across this video last night while surfing some woodworking forums. After about 45 seconds, you can watch a guy make a pair of wooden shoes. He starts with a hatchet, and he knows how to use it. It is fun to watch this guy work.

The second woodworker up is a spoon maker, and he moves fast. As impressive as the cobbler was, the spoonmaker is even more so. He gets to work around 6:45 into the film.

Last up is some chairmakers (around 9:20 in), and this is, at least for me, the best part of the film. It is just amazing to see these guys work. I love how they are able to work without any vises. And the two-man handplane is fantastic. These guys work so quickly, and most of it is by feel. They just know where the next hole goes. Very impressive.

In all, this film goes to show that you don't need extruded aluminum dodads and spinning carbide bits to work wood. I wish this film had sound, so I could hear the chop of the hatchet, or the whisper of the plane. That would be music to my ears.

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posted in: blogs, videos, chair, hand tools, swedish woodworkers, clogs, spoon

Comments (22)

snburton72 snburton72 writes: one of the best fifteen minutes of video I have seen to date on woodworking..

Posted: 11:11 pm on September 3rd

Sean A Sean A writes: sorry, sfwild, my sense of 'humor' must have been off. I thought it was awesome, I was just poking fun at myself (and likely others) that obsess about building super flat giant Roubo workbenches or lapping tools to 0.001". (yes, I think there is value in those things, and no, it is not necessary to do good work -- re: watch the video).

And saying something is beyond my skills is not a high bar! LOL!
Posted: 1:28 pm on April 22nd

Filtersmith Filtersmith writes: Two things left strong impressions with me. First is that these guys still have all their digits and aren't wearing bandages. And second, with the tools they had, they were in no danger of inhaling too much fine sawdust. Who needs a Tucker vise when you have a leather apron? And without random orbital sanders or high-speed circular saws, who needs dust collection?
Posted: 12:58 pm on April 21st

sfwild sfwild writes: Wonderful! I only wish that the action was at normal speed, not double speed. It would be much easier to see the details of the process.
Sean, this is real. why so skeptical? Just because it is beyond your own experience does not mean that it is not possible.
Posted: 11:56 am on April 21st

Sean A Sean A writes: Very entertaining video. Must be Hollywood smoke and mirrors though, like the moon landing:
>>Did you see how spindly the legs of those workbenches were, especially in the chair shop? Can't hand plane or chop mortises on that!
>>Did you see how rough his bench was? Had to be way more that 0.002" out of flat. No way to get good results from it.
>>And where was the wagon vise with the Unobtanium inserts?

Seriously though, pretty amazing work using what was essentially (for the shoe and spoon) a hatchet, a knife, and a spoon bit. Puts a lot of my tool obsession into perspective. Maybe I'm overcompensating (for a lack of skill, thank you very much!).

Posted: 9:06 am on April 21st

jimnjudy jimnjudy writes: WOW...and we think we have it bad,we are so spoiled with our power saws and planers.
We need to thank our lucky stars we have all we do.
Our woodworking is fun,not work like back in those days.
next time I have to mill a board or sand,I think I'm gonna look up and say thank u for all he has given us

Posted: 7:46 am on April 21st

Redstickslim Redstickslim writes: Thanks!!! This is great stuff. It reminds me of the early days of Fine Woodworking.
Posted: 12:52 pm on April 20th

iamwise99 iamwise99 writes: Awesome...I hope that these skills are not becoming extinct...
Posted: 11:59 pm on March 27th

bossjimmark bossjimmark writes: You sometimes have to wonder that, if these old-school folks saw what we go through to make a chair or table, they would laugh at us. We have all these great, accurate, precice, super-machined tools. Their vise was their knee, their clamps, their hands. Amazing stuff!
Posted: 6:00 am on March 25th

nboucher nboucher writes: These guys knew how to sharpen!

Thanks, No1Teddy, for the translation.
Posted: 1:53 pm on March 24th

Huckleberry Huckleberry writes: Wow, the video is awesome.
Posted: 2:53 pm on March 23rd

smoothplane smoothplane writes: There are several more of these here:,a1364145,1,f,103007/pb,a1364142,1,f,103007/pl,v,,1371069/sb,k103004,1,f,103007

This one is of a wagon-wheel maker, whose speed simply amazes me. There is also a bucket cooper one with similar amazing skill/speed.
Posted: 12:53 pm on March 22nd

dkerfoot dkerfoot writes: As soon as Lie-Nielsen introduces a hatchet with M2 steel, custom brass inlay and of course the special sharpening jig, I'll be able to work just like these guys!
Posted: 7:24 am on March 18th

Tolpin Tolpin writes: The clip brings back memories: Over 30 years ago, living on a farm in PA, I learned how to make traditional hay forks and rakes from green white oak from Dave Sawyer--now a Windsor Chairmaker up in Vermont. We used all hand tools--mostly axe, wedges, froes, drawknives and spokeshaves. It was probably the most fun I ever had in working wood. I've spent far too long machining wood!
Posted: 11:47 pm on March 17th

tomcarver tomcarver writes: Great piece of film!! An excellent record of woodworking for a living. Thanks for sharing.
Posted: 8:22 pm on March 17th

No1Teddy No1Teddy writes: Let me try to translate the texts in the film.
Gothenburg, Sweden

00:03 Anniversary exhibition, Göteborg 1923. Culture historical film series.
(This must have been the 300 years anniversary of the foundation of Göteborg.)

00:05 Clog manufacturing, Kungssäter parish, Västergötaland county.
(This is about 40 miles west of Gothenburg.)
(in the forest areas wooden craft was a common duty. This film was recorded in conjunction to the 1923 Gothenburg university exhibition.)

00:13 In the forest areas west of Borås (Borås city is about 38 miles west of Gothenburg) wooden craft is pursued in many parish.

00:32 A special carpentry cabin often belongs to the farm.

00:42 In some places one have specialized in manufacturing of chairs.

00:51 The wood is Alder (tree of the genus Alnus)

01:35 The blanks is wedged in to the Clog mare (like female horse)

01:58 "Täxlan" ( I don't know what that the English name for that tool is)

02:15 "Naver." ( I don't know what that the English name for that hand drill is)

02:34 "Råske." could may be translated like roughing out spoon.

03:43 "Lella slättjärnet." "the small smoothening carving tool"

04:01 "Stora slättjärnet" "the large smoothening carving tool"

06:27 Anniversary exhibition, Göteborg 1923. Culture historical film series.

06:30 Manufacturing of wooden spoon. Bollebyggd parish, Älvsborgs county (About 25 miles west of Gothenburg)

07:08 "Täxla." ( I don't know what that the English name for that tool is)

07:58 "Skeajärn." could may be translated like spoon tool.

08:29 Chair maker in Bollebyggd

08:39 Bollebyggd parish in Älvsborgs county is since long a location were wood craft is commonly pursued.

08:50 The products are simpler furniture, buckets (manufactured like wooden barrels of thin ribs and a couple of steel bands around) and smaller wood crafts items.

08:54 Högsgärde farm is typical for the area.

09:17 In some places they have specialized in manufacturing of chairs.

09:29 Like this a Chair is manufactured in Bollebyggd.

09:32 The blanks is shaped with an ax.

09:43 Note the simple work bench.

10:10 The manufacturing is standardized. Marking of the mortises is done with a template.

10:45 The back cross beams.

13:10 Painting

13:50 the seat

14:29 The carpentry cabin. There is one at most of the farms in the parish.

14:33 The wood craft is driven on carriages to the marketing area, often a larger city as Gothenburg or Åmål or others.

Posted: 6:36 pm on March 17th

sleepydad sleepydad writes: just go to the url there are tons of them.

watched some guy makes nails by hand. these are very cool
Posted: 9:30 am on March 17th

tangible tangible writes: This is so great. Goteborg and Boras are towns in southern Sweden. This is the area my ancestors are from and they were shoe makers. I have been wanting to learn about Swedish crafts like this. Thanks so much.
Posted: 3:22 am on March 17th

freeper7 freeper7 writes: Amazing that these fellows could make a fair living at this. I would love to know what kind of wood they used. Had to be something soft, maybe basswood, pine?
Posted: 10:14 pm on March 16th

TheWallruss TheWallruss writes: This was the most enjoyable 15 minutes today! Please show us more just like this.
Posted: 8:23 pm on March 16th

nazard nazard writes: Matt: More of the same, please!
Posted: 5:39 pm on March 16th

habilis habilis writes: Wow. More, more. Where did you find it?
Posted: 5:07 pm on March 16th

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