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The Chairmaker

Stulmacher's Tools

Part II. 
The tools of the chairmaker have a significant relationship with the tools of the cabinetmaker and, also in part with the cartwright except that they sometimes bear different names in the shop of the cabinetmaker. At the same time there are some peculiar tools (to the chairmaker) that one will not meet with in other workshops. To this group belongs the first tool:


The froe (Spaltklinge) table IV, fig. II. It is made completely of iron, about 11 inches long, 5 to 6 inches wide in the blade, and an inch thick in its strong back. The size and weight is, because of the purpose of this instrument, very useful. With this blade the chairmaker splits large blocks of wood into smaller pieces.


His hatchet (Handbeil), fig. I, differs from a common hatchet of a double type. Partly in that it has a curved handle, because the chairmaker must often trim wide lumber where a straight handle would be in his way, and partly in that it's longer bit is cut out underneath opposite the handle so that when trimming, the hand of the professional is not hindered from grasping the hatchet as required. In addition it is also somewhat larger than the regular hatchet.
  The saws of these woodshops differ for the most part only in their size one from another. The blade of the frame saw (Schulpsäge) is fixed in the middle of its frame like the blade of the (Klobensäge, literally "log saw").1 In the workshops of the cabinetmaker and cartwright, p. 140, this saw (the Schulpsäge) is most advantageous for cutting up large pieces of wood. However, local chairmakers never employ this type of saw because they obtain their wood in the form of boards that are already sawn, unlike the chairmakers in coastal cities. On the other hand, the Berlin chairmaker cuts his largest pieces of wood with a large bow saw (Handsäge, literally "hand saw") that in their workshop is called a (Faustsäge, literally "fist saw") p. 140.2 Somewhat smaller, both in the design of the width of the blade as well as the frame, is the "round saw" (Rundsäge), which is referred to by the cabinetmaker as the turning saw (Schweifsäge, literally "shallow curve saw"). Even shorter is the Abkurtzsäge, (literally "cut off saw"), with which the cabinetmaker cuts off small pieces from the lumber. The smallest saw is lastly the Pinnensäge, (literally "pin saw") with which the chairmaker cuts not only the width of the tenons, but also the excess length and thickness can be trimmed according to measurement (reducing thereby the tenon considerably).3 These last four saws all belong to the family of "hand saws" (Handsäge).
   The following planes are used with the common jointer's bench (Hobelbank) p. 144. The jointer plane (Füghobel) of the cabinetmaker, p. 34, is called the great plane (Grosse Hobel) by the chairmakers. It distinguishes itself in two ways from the jointer plane of the cabinetmaker. Firstly, it is smaller, and more significantly the cabinetmaker when planing grasps the plane by the stock itself whereas the chairmaker holds two wooden handles fixed to the stock of the plane. Among the hand planes (Faustholbeln)4, the scrub plane (Schroff or Schruffhobel) p. 34 is seldom employed, while it serves for use only on rough and irregular (dirty) surfaces, its rounded plane iron good for only coarse removal but easily resharpened when dulled on a rough and dirty board. The chairmaker understands the art of easily smoothing rough or irregular (dirty) lumber with the hatchet in preparation for smoothing. The smoothing plane (Schlichthobel) along with its use has already been mentioned on page 33. The upright or hardwood plane (Steil or Harthobel)5 is different from the smoothing plane only in that its plane iron is disproportionally steeper. It therefore cuts only lightly, and smooths the wood superiorly when it is irregular or has knots. Likewise, its casing is ofttimes made of iron so that its sole does not wear. The toothing plane (Zahnhobel) is similar to the smoothing plane except that the edge of its iron has teeth. The woodworkers use this plane to roughen the surface of the wood for better adhesion of glue. The compass plane (Rundhobel), fig. V, likewise differs from the smoothing plane in that its stock makes a shallow curve along its length. The chairmaker alone uses this plane on bent and curved surfaces. Additionally among his planes he owns hollows (Stabhobel, literally, "staff planes"), moulding planes (Kehlhobel)6, jointer planes (Handfughobel), rabbet planes (Gesimshobel) and ogee planes (Karniesshobel, literally "cornice planes") of different types. These planes have already been described in the second chapter, p. 35. Alone, these planes only work in service when a moulding is to be worked out along a straight line. The chairmaker often fashions moulding in a shallow curve in which case instead of a plane he selects the gouges (Hohleissen) and other chisels which are named as follows.


1 On page 140 of volume in the Cartwright chapter, Sprengel describes the Klobensäge as a stout frame 4 to 5 feet long and half as wide. A 4" blade with upright teeth is fastened in the middle of the frame with two iron extensions (bolts) and can be adjusted with the help of a key (wrench). It is used, according to Sprengel, to cut up stout pieces of wood along the grain into boards or heavy pieces. Sprengel describes the Klobesäge in the Cabinetmaker chapter as pulled by two people, and used to cut boards and especially veneer from large walnut timbers. The Schulpsäge used by some chairmakers is evidently a smaller version.
2 This "fist saw" and the others that follow Sprengel refers to as "hand saws." They are not the wide bladed "hand saws" used by British and American woodworkers, but variations of what we refer to as bow saws.
3 This last and smallest of the bow saws described by Sprengel is defined by most German-English references as a tenon saw because of its application.  This is again a small bow saw, not the back saw used by English and American woodworkers that they refer to as a tenon saw.
4 The smaller hand-held planes all fall under the general heading of Faustholbeln, literally fist planes or hand planes.
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