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Tools and techniques used in the 18th Century

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With the oft-repeated discussions about which power tools to use, and the oft-repeated replies referring to the fact that they didn't have power tools in the 18th Century, I was wondering where to look for articles about the tools and techniques used at that time by ship modellers.


I'd really like to know more about which tools were used, how they were made and the various little techniques that were used to achieve their perfect results -- especially in making Admiralty models. I suppose it's strongly linked to fine cabinet making, especially in miniature-- and there's probably lots of info on that.


Obviously knives, blades, saws and chisels don't need much discussion, and I'm clear about the types of lathe used. But I'd be quite interested in accurate drilling, for example, or sanding techniques or the kinds of jig that may have been used.


I'm sure lots of you have already considerable knowledge about this, so I thought I'd ask to see where I might start.


Thanks for any replies or interest!



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Thanks very much, Bob. Just the sort of thing I was looking for!


Following the link given by Google Books, I think the printed version (slightly different title, but same source at Williamsburg) may be bought for USD 19.95 at http://shop.colonialwilliamsburg.com/Tools-Working-Wood-in-18th-Century-America. The ebook at UK£4.56 looks good value.


They also have a DVD about cabinet making for the same price at http://shop.colonialwilliamsburg.com/The-Cabinetmaker-DVD.



Edited by tkay11
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Tony -


You may also want to take a look at some of the writings and research by R.C. Anderson, Nance and others (see various volumes of MM during the 1920's) concerning ships models.  Very interesting descriptions and analysis offered. 


Keeping in mind the evolution of purpose for the "Admiralty" style models, there was quite likely a parallel evolution in the craftsmanship and the nature of the tradesman doing the modelling (the earliest were used to 'sell" a design to the decision makers, while the later were a part of the materials required to be submitted, along with plans and drawings, for consideration.)  The tools used quite certainly also changed over time.  Considering that folks like Hahn and Underhill were able to produce amazing models, of similar character to the "Admiralty" style, using mostly simple hand tools (many home made), I would suspect that 200 years earlier, the tradesman making the model was not working with very much else.  Indeed, considering that model making was not a frequent requirement, I doubt if there was a position in a government yard (commercial yards more probably to have someone) who had a primary job of building models.  More likely a task assigned to apprentice ship wrights learning the trade in the loft and drafting sections.

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This looks very interesting


Anatomy of an Admiralty Model by Robert Bruckshaw


There are several sites for this valuable publication as a free download PDF.  Here is one:



Edited by Bob Blarney
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