Improving upon the Past
There is an interesting trend today in woodworking to make things ‘better’, ‘quicker’, ‘easier’, etc., etc., etc. And while some of the advice may be good much of it I believe is resulting in traditional methods being abandoned. I also think that some of the advice is bad, misleading and fosters bad habits. I think some of the ‘authorities’ are extolling these platitudes for their own personal aggrandizement. They are committing the sin of hubris for their own gain or perhaps they are just carried away in their own world thinking that they are making perfect sense.
Being a preservationist of historic woodworking methods I would not like to see these old techniques lost. I can not believe that the previous generations would have done things to their tools to diminish their life and usefulness. I know that they would not have followed procedures that didn’t work, just because of tradition, they did things they way they did them because those things worked.
Considering the volume and quality of the work, they were able to get things done is quite an accomplishment and should not be diminished in any way.. They had no other choices, they had the tools of the time (many the latest state of the trade), the materials (including first growth timbers) and the tradition of techniques learned in the time honored trade.
After several hundred years they got it right and that came to an apex in the early nineteenth century just prior to the Industrial Revolution and its influences on woodworking. Up to that time all work was done by hand and hand or animal or water powered tools.