Posts in Category: Woodworking History

Italian carpenters tools from 1574

Noah’s Sacrifice by BASSANO, Jacopo.

Check the link, it shows a painting by Jacopo Bassano, an Italian painter, depicting a scene of Noah, presumably building an Ark or something I can’t quite tell (and don’t really care, the rest of the scene has my whole attention).  In the lower right corner there are a bunch of tools that the workmen are using scattered about, as well as a simple and more elaborate chest.

I see the following:

  • Bowsaw
  • Plane (in the roman style it looks like)
  • Hammer
  • Several Adzes
  • Axe
  • Level (A-Frame style)
  • T-handled Auger and Gimlets
  • Pick
  • Hammer
  • Compass/Divider
  • Pliers/Pincher of some sort

The planes are of special interest, as they are clearly the style of body found in Pompeii and other Roman finds.  Only later than I’m used to seeing.  Also it’s interesting because the iron is set so far back in the body.

Very interesting.  I found the picture through a reference to dovetails in one of the chests, which I can’t make out in the picture.


I found another example of this type of plane body in another Italian painting in a similar time frame:

The clip above is a close up of painting by Tintoretto of the Annunciation which has some tools visible. I tried to clean up the dark portion of the painting a little for clarity, but you can clearly see the body and iron set well back in the body.  It’s deliberate, as you can see the rounding of the plane body heel in this close up.  It makes me wonder how you’d use such a plane?  Is it a push or pull?  Hrm…


Medieval Bow Saw

I’ve been digging through this awesome book of trades I found on line.   It’s in German, so it’s hard to navigate through.  I found the link through the most awesome blog ever and have been trolling through it for days.  Lots of period tools and the like, often in use.

Check this awesome picture I found while looking around.  This picture is from 1589 and is essentially what I want to make, and what I want to do with it once I make it.  I also liked the clever stand for supporting the work, with the steps cut into it.