Arts & Mysteries: 18th-century Tools for Every Shop


Often, the old ways are more efficient.
By Adam Cherubini
Pages: 26-29

From the February 2008 issue #167
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I use 18th-century hand tools because I make reproduction furniture. In my mind, the simplest, most efficient way to make authentic-looking furniture is to simply use the tools and techniques from the period. So for 18th-century reproductions, I think hand tools are the best tools. But for other jobs, I’m not so sure. Last year, I made plywood kitchen cabinets by hand. That wasn’t fun. Eighteenth-century hand tools simply weren’t designed for plywood and the sorts of joints used in kitchen cabinets. So I recognize my 18th-century tool kit isn’t universally superior. But there are some 18th-century hand tools that I think no shop should be without, regardless of the sort of work done. In this article, I’m going to list the tools I think you should have and tell you why I think you should have them.

I’ve been reluctant to discuss topics such as this in the past. From its conception, Arts & Mysteries has always had a strong anticonsumeristic theme. Arts & Mysteries is now and has always been about skill. So I’ll make a deal with you: I’ll agree to talk about the tools you need if you promise not to ask me who makes the best versions and where to buy them.


From the February 2008 issue #167
Buy this issue now