Somebody else working very hard

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Established Member
24 Jul 2007
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I've not been doing much woodworking lately but I do always enjoy watching somebody else make something, especially if it's done with hand tools, it's big and heavy, they are working flat out and they are making something useful.

So I was pleased to come across this little six minute archive film from 1926. It's in French, but that doesn't matter as it's silent anyway. It is particularly good on accurate use of the axe and how to wield a sledge hammer at shoulder height.

I suggest you sit back with a cup of tea (or more likely a nice glass of wine in this case) and enjoy some proper artisanal woodworking. ... video.html
they were very efficient back then, this makes me want to start using an axe! :D
Steve Maskery":1ra417w0 said:
Brilliant find, Andy.
What the tool he is using at 3:40?

It's either a chiv or a croze. They could be of similar appearance with a broad fence which ran along the end of the barrel.

I'm no expert on cooperage and French practice was probably different from English on these huge barrels, but as a broad generalisation the chiv was used first and had a gouge like cutter which made a smooth depression of equal depth all round the barrel. The croze was used next, in a similar fashion. It had a narrow cutter, sometimes like saw teeth, and made a narrow groove into which the bevelled rim of the head or foot of the barrel fitted.

All most impressive stuff when you think about the precision needed and the pace of the work.
I bet those guys were on piece work (paid per barrel), rather than on a wage. The difference with English coopers that I've seen film of is that the French used no templates that I could see. Also, the French didn't use draw knives and a shaving horse.
Someone was lazy with the chock near the end!
The axe work was amazing - but, oooh, it made me wince for his fingers.
MikeG.":1u09e8kp said:
...didn't use draw knives and a shaving horse.

I saw a draw knife in use on the lid - although they didn't show how the boards were joined together to form the lid piece. Very impressive work, I wonder how many you have to make to get that good at it!

I think that the French for shave horse literally translates as 'shave goat' - but best not to google that I suppose....

If you're ever in the Highlands, this place is worth a visit: although they mostly just re-condition (predominantly casks made out of AWO, originally for the US whiskey trade), rather than build from scratch.

Cheers/Slàinte, W2S