Most of the tools we use in our work are old.
Many are over a hundred years old, even. We have crosscut saws that go back to 1890. We have chisels that were hand made by blacksmiths from around 1860. And the rest of our tools are somewhere in between.
This is because we find there is a powerful connection between these items, which were hand made by people who understood craftsmanship, and quality, and the working with wood.
They carve and cut beautifully.
They are aestheically pleasing to use.
They are how frames and homes were cut and shaped for hundreds of years, long before modern electric saws and drills were invented.
It does take more skill to use these older tools, at first, but as your skills grow, they cut and shape a frame in a way that makes a major difference in how a home or barn or workshop actually feels.
There is something very human and warm about a frame that will support and shelter your family for generations, that is built and crafted by hand.
You see it in the chisel marks on the beams, on the bevel cut by a wide slick or a hand plane.
You can see it in a hand carved oak or ash peg, where the drawknife was skillfully used to create a mostly perfect eight-sided peg, that juts out from the beams and you can hang your hat.
You can feel these imperfections, if you will, add up to a space that is warm and inviting, a far cry from the geometrically perfect ideals that modern building aims to achieve.
It's the reason that most hotel rooms feel empty and sterile. They are 'nice' in outward appearance, but spend two days inside one of those spaces and you will feel the disconnect from our ancient roots.
Shelters were crafted and built by hand for thousands of years, ever since our ancestors moved from the caves and began to venture into the wild.
Our mallets are rolled rawhide and a metal head, where they can deliver heavy blows to the wooden end of a corner chisel to leave a crisp, clean cut.
We use a variety of different size chisels for cutting the different parts of the frame, and we use wide 'slicks' to get a very smooth surface on our tenons and mortises.
We use axes for chopping away large sections of wood, and for reducing the tough knots where branches once grew, into easly smoothed surfaces.
We use hand saws of different kinds to cut with the grain (rip saws) or across the grain (crosscut saws), and we use two person saws to cut big beams by hand very quickly, too.
We also use drawknives in some places, and adzes, in shaping pegs and rafters.
Other tools we use are Framing Squares, and pencils, and Japanese Water Stones for sharpening them all.
We use an antique boring machine to drill beautiful holes for our mortises, and brace bit drills to make the holes for the pegs.
We also use a variety of hand planes, to smooth and shape the mortises and tenons, and give our work a fine fit and beautifully crafted look.
(Honesty Disclaimer: We do use electrical power tools at times, for drilling some holes that can't otherwise be used with a brace bit or boring machine, and we also use power in our lights in the workshop, as well as to power our music!
All in all, we love old tools, not just to look at them and admire their maker's efforts, but in the way they feel when we put them to use in the work for which they were designed.
It's an honor to hold and work with these fine pieces of history, and they help us strive to do our best to live up to their example.