All carpentry hand tools are designed for a specific type of wood working task. The ideal tool will have the perfect fit, feel and functionality and its use can actually add to the carpenter’s skill.
For thousands of years, carpentry tools have been designed and created out of the need to build structures out of shaped pieces of wood.
Trees had to be felled and notched for log houses or sawn into great planks for structures of the last few hundred years.
Long before steel production became commonplace, these tools had to be crafted by hand in forges which required tremendous skill. The Japanese have been making excellent blades and saws with techniques honed over many hundreds of years and the knowledge had been handed down to countless generations.
It is agreed that the first hand tools were striking and gouging or chiseling tools. The obvious transition was to create a tool that could be used to strike and drive an object, yet also be able to cut and gouge – and the hatchet was born.
The axe was developed as a specialty tool for felling and chopping up trees by an individual. Globally it was normal for newly developed lands to be conquered one family at a time. This usually meant one man was the carpenter, performing all the heavy or skilled wood working tasks. Hand tools needed to be useful, easy to handle, and well maintained.
All carpenter's hand tools were designed for specific needs. Saws and rasps cut and roughly shaped wood. Chisels, planes, and drawing knives smoothed and finely shaped wood. As years passed, carpentry became more refined with furniture building and cabinetry making demanding hand tools that could produce finer details.
Boring tools, such as augers and braces, allowed carpenters to produce perfectly aligned holes in wood – these simple tools were so functional that nearly every carpenter prior to the 1980's had at least one in his toolbox.
Quite often these tools were handed down from father to son, becoming heirlooms and reminding the user of the history of carpentry behind the tool every time it was put to wood.
Measurement and specialty hand tools continued to be created as new carpentry needs were encountered. The carpenter’s square went from a 90-degree angle of bent iron with crude markings for common uses to a tool that carries markings used for highly exacting measurements.
Whether the carpenter's hand tools you own were used by your great-grandfather or by someone else’s great-grandfather, it is still a wonderful bit of carpentry history that cuts as true today as it did years ago.