Building

First New Tools

Today I received the first delivery of new specialist tools for our upcoming summer of natural building courses. While I already own some of these tools and other tools will be made on site some will be purchased so every student has the tools needed to hand. With six students already booked on the may course and rising interest showing on the website we anticipate full attendance for all our summer courses, which means we will need plenty of tools. So here is a quick review of the new tools and the supplier.

I have used Fine Tools to purchase this batch and another already ordered, I am not so impressed with their service as I am with their prices. They claim 99% stocking rates but all three orders I have made so far including one last year, have been split or delayed, this order by nearly two weeks. However the selection of quality tools they sell seams excellent and the price in comparison to other on-line vendors is very good.

So the courses are intended to enable the students to harness their full potential and demystify the process of building houses, this over the last couple of centuries has become a specialist endeavour. This is in stark contrast to the historical nature of building which used to be done by every member of a community, each person taking on tasks appropriate to their age a physical stature. Men in their prime would do the heavy work, older men would have developed good hand eye coordination and skills and might take on less physical but more skilled tasks and of course teach younger member of the community their skills. Children would take on work appropriate to their age and physical stature, in stark contrast to today’s building sites where they are simply banned for reasons of health and safety. Women would have taken a much more central position too doing many of the job requiring more finesse like weaving wattle a daub panel’s and lime washing. Today we have specialists who do only one element of the building process, mostly dissatisfied and unfulfilled individuals working for their retirement.

Natural building is not just about the materials used for me its about allowing my true nature to shine and helping students true nature to shine too, I’m not a specialist and I don’t know many people who are fulfilled by specialisation, this is illustrated clearly by millions of people spending their hard earned wages on thousands of different hobbies in a search for the satisfaction missing in their daily grind. Engaging with natural materials with minimal barriers to the material usually means minimising or eliminating powered tools, and that is where the new tools come in. This year both our cabins will have a green timber frame to hold the roof up the following tools are to facilitate this part of the build process.

Firstly two “Mueller adzes hand forged in Austria from top quality steel. They are thoroughly hardened and tempered. The handles are made of ash.” (copied this from the tools site) This seams an accurate description the tools have a good shape and are well finished and hefted (handled) but the smaller of the two has no edge at all. While this is not a problem for me I’m used to sharpening tools, and this will be skill all participants will have by the end of their course too. I would usually expect a tool to arrive sharpened even if not ready to use, this one is about sharp enough to use as a hammer.

Tools 001The adzes will be used for quick removal of timber roughing out joints before finishing with chisels, and of course for bowl carving in students down time.

The next item is a box of five MHG Butt Chisel Gouges these are excellent quality and arrived razor sharp and read for use. these will be used to make joints where where intersection has one timber left round and a tenon is set in the centre of a cup, finishing the work started by the adze.

Tools 007The next item is an MHG Framing Gouge used for the same tasks as the but chisels and also for cutting gutters in to timber, this is intended for hand use only with the large handle giving plenty of purchase on to the timber without the need for a mallet. I can also see this could be used for some of the hand caving to refine bowls. This also arrived with a razor sharp edge ready for work

Tools 009The next item is an MHG Timber Frame Chisels, this is for heavy work cutting deep mortises and refining tenons this like the framing gouge is a cup chisel design but has a ring ferrule on the back reinforcing it for use with a mallet. I have also ordered more sizes of this chisel.

Tools 010One last photo to round up the post.

Tools 011More updates as tools arrive and work begins on the new green woodwork and forge shelter.

All the best,Steve.

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