Alburnam's Archive

2001-2002  Stephen A. Shepherd
All Rights Reserved 

May not be reproduced in any form, written or electronic, without permission.

This is a collection of essays and discourses on traditional woodworking and antique restoration. They are descriptions of how woodworking was done in the nineteenth century and earlier. Most of this will deal with hand tools and the most advanced machine will be a steam engine. While sophisticated power tools have existed for centuries the form of power changed at the end of the nineteenth century and will not be included in these discussions. This is a delineation of the techniques, tools and materials used in the construction of antique furniture in nineteenth century America and can act as a guide for the restoration, conservation, preservation and reconstruction of those artifacts. No attempt is made to improve upon history only to relate that which was. Acting as a reporter of the past, a chronicler of history, I can only tell you what I have observed from careful examination of thousands of examples of the material folk culture of our heritage. I have reproduced many examples in context, using the original tools, the same materials and the traditional techniques as our ancestors. The only difference is one of time. It is possible to exactly recreate anything necessary to accurately reproduce an object or to do a Historically Correct restoration. It is important that this information to be available to those who can put it to good advantage, I have gleaned it from the past and I sow it to the future. We are using the highest technology to bring you the lowest technology. Our ancestors are not primitive, crude and simple people, they produced some of the finest, sophisticated wooden objects on earth. We can not improve upon the past, the next new thing, is the next new thing and that is alright. What we are about here is telling it like it was, chronicling the past, accurately reporting upon the traditional usage of the very fabric of the lives of our predecessors, wood. We are history.

I would like to thank Arnold Kleyweg for his valuable assistance in the editing of these words. While my writings are a continuous process from beginning to end, I at times repeat myself and will say things over again. I am fonder of my words than Arnold and he reduced and refined to clarify for a better presentation that is easier to read.

Archive Index

There is a lot of information so the pages may take a while to load.

  1. Also Boring
  2. Ancient Equivalents  *NEW*
  3. Authentication of Antiquities 
  4. Bending Wood
  5. Bleaching Wood
  6. Boring
  7. Cabinet Repair
  8. Carving Chisels and Gouges
  9. Chemical Staining
  10. Chisels and Gouges
  11. Chopping Mortices
  12. Clamps and Clamping
  13. Coloring Metal
  14. Cooperage
  15. Cracked and Crazed Finishes
  16. Cross Grain
  17. Cutting, Chopping and Planing Dovetails by Hand
  18. Cutting Wooden Threads
  19. Destroying Antiques
  20. Distressing and Antiquing
  21. Door Repair
  22. Drawknives, Scorps, Jiggers and Inshaves
  23. Drill Bits
  24. Filling Grain
  25. Finish Condition
  26. Flat Hand Planing
  27. French Polish
  28. General Repairs
  29. Gluing up Wood
  30. Hammer Veneering
  31. Hand Sawing 
  32. Historic Cabinet Woods
  33. Hudson's Bay Fur Trade Cassette  
  34. Inch
  35. Layout Tools
  36. Lewis and Clark Fiddle by Ken Pollard
  37. Making and Using Dowel Pins and Pegs
  38. Making and Using a Router
  39. Making Wood Look Old  *NEW*
  40. Mallets and Hammers    
  41. Marquetry, Inlay and Intarsia
  42. Metallic Leafing
  43. Nails
  44. Nature of Wood
  45. Old Veneer
  46. On Maple
  47. Painting
  48. Painting & Graining
  49. Planing Appliances
  50. Planing Moldings
  51. Puzzle Mallet from Woodworker's Journal 
  52. Rasps, Files, Rifflers and Floats
  53. Repairing Chairs
  54. Repairing Drawers
  55. Repairing Furniture Hardware
  56. Repairing Plaster and Composition Ornamentation 
  57. Repairing Tables
  58. Rope Bed
  59. Rush Seat Bottom *NEW*
  60. Sanding 
  61. Saw Sharpening
  62. Sawing Appliances
  63. Scrapers
  64. Scratch Stock
  65. Sharpening
  66. Shaving Horse
  67. Shellac Burn in Sticks
  68. Snowshoe Seat Bottom
  69. Splitting & Riving
  70. Spokeshaves, Travishers, a Buzz and a Jarvis
  71. Spring Pole Lathe by John Pappas
  72. Staining
  73. State Trees
  74. Stripping to the Original Finish
  75. Sundial, Compass Rose & Analemma 
  76. Terms
  77. The Board *NEW*
  78. The Matter of Cherry  
  79. The Problem
  80. Tips
  81. Tool Box
  82. Traditional Lumbering
  83. Traditional Oil Finish
  84. Traditional Varnish
  85. Treating Teak  
  86. Tuning Old Wooden Hand Planes  
  87. Turning Chucks
  88. Turning on a Treadle Lathe
  89. Turning Tools  
  90. Unusual Characteristics of Wood
  91. Unusual Tools
  92. Using Hide Glue *UPDATED*
  93. Using Liquid Hide Glue
  94. Veneer Damage
  95. Wagon Maker*NEW*
  96. Wheelwright
  97. Why I Use Hand Tools  *NEW*
  98. Wood and Weather
  99. Woodworking Unplugged
  100. Workbench

Soon to come:

Coach Maker,  Joints,  Playing a Hand Saw, and much more.

There is more information at Historical Information and Moses T's Guide To Furniture Care & Restoration and for further reading check out the Bibliography.  Check out Restorations and Reproductions for examples of saving and recreating the past.  Many of the tools discussed here are available at Handmade Woodworking Tools.

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