Modern woodworking tools, which may be electric and even utilize computers for precision designs, are a far cry from the woodworking tools of yesteryear. As far back as the Neanderthals, people have been using tools to manipulate wood, and while the history of those tools is fascinating, the progress we’ve made is equally impressive.
Initially, our ancestors relied on rocks to beat down branches and trees. That wood might then be sharpened into a weapon or shaped for another use. In many ways, rocks were versatile woodworking tools. It has taken a long time for tools to evolve as much as they have.
Just 100 years ago, people were relying on simple tools that were capable of performing on a single task. Although the first motors already existed, humans still used tools that relied mostly on physical labor to cut and shape wood to suit their purposes.
The advent of battery-powered tools made many jobs simpler, and woodworking was no exception. An electric tool could perform multiple tasks by simply swapping an attachment. The 20th century, in particular, ushered in many advancements when it came to woodworking. Battery-powered circular saws were invented in 1923, followed by the power drill as WWI came to an end. Before 1950, Albert Kaufmann thought to create the jigsaw, and Otto Hendrickson patented the pneumatic sander in 1969.
Furthermore, concrete began to be used as a building material, meaning that construction no longer required heavy timber. This was undoubtedly a boon for people who had been breaking their backs for centuries. These developments also paved the wave for more precise and intricate woodwork. Workers were expected to be more skilled than ever before.
Woodworkers still rely on traditional tools such as the chisel, which harkens back to the sharpened rocks used initially for woodworking. Like those rocks, a chisel is an extremely versatile tool to have in your arsenal — or toolbelt. Aside from streamlined designs and changes in material, the chisel hasn’t drastically changed over time. This proves that traditional tools may still be the best tool for the job.
What remains of older tools that are not functional has become a bustling industry, too. The Internet is a haven for those who wish to purchase antique woodworking tools with some selling for hundreds of dollars.