These Antique Tools Made Framing Without Power Tools a Breeze

At a popular living history center in Southern England, historians have put together a collection of the typical tool collection used by a home framer in the 17th to 19th Centuries.

If you're a builder, most these tools are probably familiar. Researchers at the Weald and Downland living history museum in Chichester, UK, collected these tools to illustrate how traditional rural homes were built. No circular saws, no chop saws, no table saws or power drills.

Yet there's a misconception that home building in the pre-industrial age was slow and tedious work. Granted, in most rural areas, builders undertook  only one or two projects a year. But in urban areas the historic equivalent to production builders did exist. What made this possible was the availability of armies of low cost, yet generally skilled laborers. In London, for example, between 1785 and 1823,  James Burton of London is said to have erected some 2,366 homes. (Source: The Rise of the English Town, 1650-1850).

Here's a photo I took of the standard toolkit of the early builder. The key is below it.



A. Roofing Square
B. Two-Foot Rule
C. Adjustable Bevel
D. Twybil
E. Gouge
F. Chisel: 1 1/8" Firmer
G. Chisel: 1 1/4" Firmer
H. Chisel: 1/2" Firmer
I. Missing: Chisel: 1/2" Mortice
J. Draw Knife
K. Wing Compasses: 20"
L. Compasses: 6"
M. Plumb Bob
N. Scratch Awl
O. Gimlet
P. Common Iron Brace & Bit
Q. Hatchet
R. Adze
S. Cross-Cut Saw
T. Rip Saw
U. Name Punch
V. Twist Auger
W. Shell Auger with Gouge-Shaped Nose
X. Shell Auger with Flat Nose
Y. Cleft Oak Peg (left) and Iron Hook Pin (Right)