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Anglo-Saxon Thumb Shave

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rxh

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This is a reproduction of a tool found at Coppergate, York (No.2984), believed to date from the 9th to 11th centuries AD. I have based it on a photo and information in a book: Anglo-Saxon Tools by Dennis Riley. It is effectively a small draw knife that could be carried in a pocket (in a leather pouch!). Mr. Rliey has suggested the name “thumb shave for it”. He has made and tested a replica of his own so I am not breaking new ground here. However I thought it would be interesting to make and try one for myself.
 

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bourbon

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Thanks for posting this. Our Medieval group is always looking for new tools for our carpenters. One twist, is that our very talented blacksmith will make it, in a field, in front of an audience with no power tools at all! he will then pass it to the grinder who will put an edge on it. Then on to the carpenters to use. Public love to see the progression and follow the steps closely.
 

Inspector

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Would this have been a tool to make replacement arrows for the next battle or a general shaping tool in a carpenter’s tool box? Or a grooming tool for hairy knuckled Vikings? :lol:

Pete
 

Sheffield Tony

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The photo of it in use reveals it to be bigger than I had imagined from the picture alongside the drawkife - I guess it must be a big drawknife !

It would be nice to try one out, it looks like a very useful and compact toolbox item.

The Dolphin plane in the Mary Rose collection looks interesting. At first glance it looks rather like a pattern maker's plane with a removable sole, but maybe it was made that way or re-soled at some stage ? Would need a closer look
 

Cheshirechappie

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Looks like a spokeshave progenitor, doesn't it - after all, a spokeshave is as near to being a small drawknife as makes very little difference.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the history of spokeshaves, and as far as I can tell, the tool as we know it today (blade set in wooden or metal holder) didn't really exist much before the 16th century. Given how useful such a tool is, it seems perfectly logical that a 'primitive' form existed before that - a two-handed knife being a bit more controllable and precise in it's results than a basic single-handled one. I'd imagine that using it could be a bit hard on the thumbs and fingers if used for a prolonged time, so it's eventual development into something more comfortable to use seems logical.

Bit of spokeshave history research here;

http://woodworkinghistory.com/glossary_spokeshave.htm
 

AndyT

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Cheshirechappie":1wjxc01i said:
Looks like a spokeshave progenitor, doesn't it - after all, a spokeshave is as near to being a small drawknife as makes very little difference.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the history of spokeshaves, and as far as I can tell, the tool as we know it today (blade set in wooden or metal holder) didn't really exist much before the 16th century. Given how useful such a tool is, it seems perfectly logical that a 'primitive' form existed before that - a two-handed knife being a bit more controllable and precise in it's results than a basic single-handled one. I'd imagine that using it could be a bit hard on the thumbs and fingers if used for a prolonged time, so it's eventual development into something more comfortable to use seems logical.

Bit of spokeshave history research here;

http://woodworkinghistory.com/glossary_spokeshave.htm
Good point CC. Hoping that nobody minds a little thread drift here, I'd like to put in a plug for the booklet "Wooden Spokeshaves" by Ken Hawley and Dennis Watts. It was jointly published by TATHS and The hawley Trust and is available for only £6 + p&p here.

It mostly covers the way that the familiar tool was mass produced by hand in hundreds of variations, but a historical note is included as well. Raymond MacInnes found a 1510 reference but this booklet gives an earlier reference in an inventory of a wheelwright's tools made in 1454, which listed "1 spoke shave & 1 two hand shave value 2d."

[Just speculating here but I wonder if the 'two hand shave' was a draw knife - which has to be used in two hands - and the other shave is the familiar tool, which can just about be used single handed.]

You can read more about it in TATHS Journal no 2 here.
 

El Barto

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rxh":16ajxrde said:
This is a reproduction of a tool found at Coppergate, York (No.2984), believed to date from the 9th to 11th centuries AD. I have based it on a photo and information in a book: Anglo-Saxon Tools by Dennis Riley. It is effectively a small draw knife that could be carried in a pocket (in a leather pouch!). Mr. Rliey has suggested the name “thumb shave for it”. He has made and tested a replica of his own so I am not breaking new ground here. However I thought it would be interesting to make and try one for myself.
That is lovely =D>
 

rxh

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AndyT":2xv34jgx said:
More historical wonders!
How soon before you run out of ancient specimens?
If you need to go a bit more modern, the Mary Rose tools should occupy you for a while... :)

https://maryrose.org/meet-the-carpenter/
Thanks Andy - I have seen the tools at the Mary Rose exhibition and because of the very dim light conditions I couldn't get good photos. If I can obtain better photos and dimensions I fancy have a go at making some replicas.
 

rxh

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Sheffield Tony":1bw52k1m said:
The photo of it in use reveals it to be bigger than I had imagined from the picture alongside the drawkife - I guess it must be a big drawknife !

It would be nice to try one out, it looks like a very useful and compact toolbox item.

The Dolphin plane in the Mary Rose collection looks interesting. At first glance it looks rather like a pattern maker's plane with a removable sole, but maybe it was made that way or re-soled at some stage ? Would need a closer look
Yes Tony, it is an Isaac Sorby drawknife with 10" long cutting edge.
 

rxh

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Cheshirechappie":lvosi70s said:
Looks like a spokeshave progenitor, doesn't it - after all, a spokeshave is as near to being a small drawknife as makes very little difference.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the history of spokeshaves, and as far as I can tell, the tool as we know it today (blade set in wooden or metal holder) didn't really exist much before the 16th century. Given how useful such a tool is, it seems perfectly logical that a 'primitive' form existed before that - a two-handed knife being a bit more controllable and precise in it's results than a basic single-handled one. I'd imagine that using it could be a bit hard on the thumbs and fingers if used for a prolonged time, so it's eventual development into something more comfortable to use seems logical.

Bit of spokeshave history research here;

http://woodworkinghistory.com/glossary_spokeshave.htm
Thanks CC - very interesting historical information.
 

rxh

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AndyT":2hyqt73t said:
Cheshirechappie":2hyqt73t said:
Looks like a spokeshave progenitor, doesn't it - after all, a spokeshave is as near to being a small drawknife as makes very little difference.

Out of curiosity, I looked up the history of spokeshaves, and as far as I can tell, the tool as we know it today (blade set in wooden or metal holder) didn't really exist much before the 16th century. Given how useful such a tool is, it seems perfectly logical that a 'primitive' form existed before that - a two-handed knife being a bit more controllable and precise in it's results than a basic single-handled one. I'd imagine that using it could be a bit hard on the thumbs and fingers if used for a prolonged time, so it's eventual development into something more comfortable to use seems logical.

Bit of spokeshave history research here;

http://woodworkinghistory.com/glossary_spokeshave.htm
Good point CC. Hoping that nobody minds a little thread drift here, I'd like to put in a plug for the booklet "Wooden Spokeshaves" by Ken Hawley and Dennis Watts. It was jointly published by TATHS and The hawley Trust and is available for only £6 + p&p here.

It mostly covers the way that the familiar tool was mass produced by hand in hundreds of variations, but a historical note is included as well. Raymond MacInnes found a 1510 reference but this booklet gives an earlier reference in an inventory of a wheelwright's tools made in 1454, which listed "1 spoke shave & 1 two hand shave value 2d."

[Just speculating here but I wonder if the 'two hand shave' was a draw knife - which has to be used in two hands - and the other shave is the familiar tool, which can just about be used single handed.]

You can read more about it in TATHS Journal no 2 here.
Thank Andy - I shall order a copy of that booklet and I'll be on the lookout for any information on ancient spokeshaves.
 

rxh

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Thanks for all your comments. I made a pouch for the thumb shave today. It is my first attempt at leatherwork and the stitching could be neater :)
 

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Pete Maddex

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Did you lay out the stich holes with a fork, thats what I did with my Pukko sheath.

Pete
 

rxh

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Pete Maddex":q1lc1ci9 said:
Did you lay out the stich holes with a fork, thats what I did with my Pukko sheath.

Pete
Pete, I marked the holes with an awl - I just "eyeballed" the spacing so it is a bit irregular. The fork seems like a good idea.
 

Bedrock

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I have been on a couple of leatherwork courses recently. Leatherworkers use either what looks like a very sturdy fork, different sizes - different pitches, punched into the leather, or a spike toothed wheel rotating within a steel shaft, with a handle. I picked up a couple of second hand leather working tools for not very much at antique/bric-a brac sales. Worth the small expenditure if you are contemplating any more work. Being able to achieve a consistent stitch pitch makes a lot of difference to the look of the piece.
Your thumb shave looks like a very useable weapon.
 

Andy Kev.

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It looks like the sort of handy little tool that you would want to have around the bench for touching things up. It's the sort of thing that Lee Valley might do a repro of. I'd certainly get one if they did.
 

SteveW1000

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Looks good but seems like the stitches wander a bit. I do know a leather worker and he has something like a comb to mark the leather for the stitches which he then pricks through with an awl. Yet another trade with it's own tools and ways of doing things.
 
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