Don't worry this is not a religious post
I was sitting in Church on Sunday morning and my thoughts drifted for a moment and I thought of Rob Keeble and his passion for U.S. history and his interest in hand tools.
The Church I belong to was founded in 1741 and they built the Congregational church and town meeting hall in 1774. Before the Revolution there was no separation of Church and State they were for the most part one in the same. In order for a town to be chartered it had to have a Congregational Church in the town common. The church was there even before the town officially became Amherst (named after General Amherst) in 1760.
Much of the church is unchanged and original. Quite a bit of the clapboard siding still remains and the interior, besides for electrical, plumbing and safety improvements, remains pretty much unchanged. Except for some repairs and replacements even the wide pine floor boards have been there since 1774.
Nothing about early protestant churches was fancy or ornate. They were built sturdy but not a ton of time was spent on fancy moldings or ornamentation. Partly because the British considered New England their shopping cart and pretty much deforested all of NH shipping all the hardwood they could find back to England to build their ships. Blacksmiths were only allowed to make the most essential tools for building and farming. Everything else they made was shipped back.
That being the history, and now to my point.
I can't imagine the blood, sweat, and tears that went into making a building like this with only basic hand tools. Every board had to be hand cut, planed jointed and fit. All the 100's and 100's of feet of moldings had to be planed. Just the time spent sharpening tools must of been incredible. I find it amazing that with such primitive tools that they were able to construct something the would last for hundreds of years. Much of the original glass remains in the huge, 15 over 15 over 15 windows.
It was humbling to sit there and think about how they accomplished all this with what they had and I probably couldn't do it with the thousands of dollars of power tools in my shop.
I wonder what builders would think today. Would they be jealous of the modern tools and techniques we have or would they be disapproving of the modern conveniences and feel that we have lost touch with the "art" of woodworking.
It has rekindled a spark in me to not always think about which power tool I need to make something. It made me (for the time being anyway) want to dust off my few hand tools and try and learn how to better use them.
What say you?