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Thread: Had a Rob Keeble moment

  1. #1
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    Had a Rob Keeble moment

    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?

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    Last edited by Bob Gibson; 09-26-2013 at 12:47 AM.
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  2. #2
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    good reading bob, and its not just you that day dreams sometimes i had one today as well but on a whole nother subject.. you and i have freedom now that we dint have a few years back
    If in Doubt, Build it Stout!
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  3. #3
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    What a beautiful building!

    Now, to answer your question, I'll give the same answer I always do about this type of thing. The craftsmen at that time in history used what they had available and did a marvelous job, obviously. Did those same craftsmen spurn any advancement in "technology" as it relates to their time in history? Of course not! Would they have welcomed the many power tools we have available today? Certainly! They weren't STUPID, after all.

    Something that irritates the whatever out of me is to have a person who uses nothing but hand tools put down those of us who have a shop full of power tools and exclaim that "this is the way the masters did it!" Well, pardon me, but how about taking history into account. Oh, by the way, those same people who poo-poo those of us who prefer "modern conveniences" like a table saw or power sander most likely have electric lights and something called heating in their shops. Do you think the old time masters had those conveniences?
    Bill Arnold
    Citizen of Texas residing in Georgia.
    NRA Life Member and Member of Mensa
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  4. #4
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    I hear you on the thoughts Bob, and pretty much feel that Bill nailed the answer...but what really has me wondering is just how boring {or maybe tame is the better term} was Sundays sermon
    The perception of perfection is perfectly clear to everyone else

  5. #5
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    You haven't heard one of mine, Ken!
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Cook View Post
    I hear you on the thoughts Bob, and pretty much feel that Bill nailed the answer...but what really has me wondering is just how boring {or maybe tame is the better term} was Sundays sermon
    The sermon was great Ken. My moment came when you stand there and pretend to sing a hymn that you have no clue how it goes
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Arnold View Post
    What a beautiful building!

    Now, to answer your question, I'll give the same answer I always do about this type of thing. The craftsmen at that time in history used what they had available and did a marvelous job, obviously. Did those same craftsmen spurn any advancement in "technology" as it relates to their time in history? Of course not! Would they have welcomed the many power tools we have available today? Certainly! They weren't STUPID, after all.

    Something that irritates the whatever out of me is to have a person who uses nothing but hand tools put down those of us who have a shop full of power tools and exclaim that "this is the way the masters did it!" Well, pardon me, but how about taking history into account. Oh, by the way, those same people who poo-poo those of us who prefer "modern conveniences" like a table saw or power sander most likely have electric lights and something called heating in their shops. Do you think the old time masters had those conveniences?
    \

    I'm pretty sure that they would of sold their souls to the devil for one of these

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zWMPWJtdQY
    Faith, Hope & Charity

  8. #8
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    That is great!

    I heard a story about some of those old building, at the time the English forbid the cutting of trees that were over a certain diameter for use in anyone's home, as they were considered the King's property and the best trees would be used for the Navy, thus the "the wide pine floor boards" were a kind of quiet protest against the crown.

    Something else to remember about that time was that most every carpenter would have several apprentices who would earn their stripes by doing a lot of the grunt work, and these young men would begin this work by 14 years of age, or even younger. Also the carpenters would most likely NOT be the guys who would take a log and turn it into a board, that was a different job, those were sawyers. My point is that while the work was most certainly hard and physical, the workers were up to it, they did not toil on into their 60's like many of us do today, and they also had few distractions like the TV or such, they worked long hours, and they had a much different pace of life. I'm not trying to say it was easy, it certainly was not, but it was also not a horrible life, but I think a good one.

    I bet they spent less time sharpening tools than we do, for one they would be very, very good at it, and also they were not obsessed with it like many of us (ah me) seem to be.

    Cheers!
    The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
    William Arthur Ward

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Gibson View Post
    The sermon was great Ken. My moment came when you stand there and pretend to sing a hymn that you have no clue how it goes
    Bob, Ah yes, that same time when I sing and the whole congregation starts to day dream of what hand tool would be an appropriate accompaniment ♫ it's Hammer-time ♪


    Quote Originally Posted by Carol Reed View Post
    You haven't heard one of mine, Ken!
    No Carol, I have not, but I'd be willing to bet the farm that when a sweet, motorcycle riding, lumber toting, cross country driving lady steps up to the pulpit, the fire & brimstone message will definitely be an attention grabbing event ...........& you can bet I'll be front & center if the chance encounter ever happens!
    Last edited by Ken Cook; 09-26-2013 at 01:10 PM. Reason: added ♫..♪
    The perception of perfection is perfectly clear to everyone else

  10. #10
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    Oh Oh Bob I did not mean to get to you.

    But what a great story, I think you should consider adding a bit to it like Stu said about the silent protest aspect and sending it to a local newspaper. Few more pics of inside and some details would be nice.

    I wholeheartedly agree with Bills point. Its the same as the battlefield. We have not advanced to fighter jets and missiles for no reason.

    Stu's point about sharpening is really a valid one. But...they probably saw to their tools each day after or before work and had the apprentice to do it.

    Lets remember the apprenticeship was not what we know of it as it is today. In those times you were indentured to become a journeyman. That meant if you go missing their is a price on your head. So there was no getting away either you had to tough it out. This is a part I think is missing in the upbringing these days "the tough it out part" . Its too easy to quit or run home or try something else.

    What intrigues me most about the history of the former colonies especially the ones the Brits occupied is how they behaved in those days claiming all sorts in the name of the King or Queen.

    Bob can you figure out the different woods used or is most of it just pine.

    I am wondering given the natural forests that I have encountered here are mixed wood, just how much attention was paid to selectivity in the wood choice for a specific application when it came to construction. We see it in the tools and furniture just wondering in an old building like that built under the conditions of crown rule whether they were forced to use whatever or were selective.

    Hey any chance you can stick around when next you visit the Church and get a few more shots of inside and the benches.

    Fantastic that the old building is still around. Shows us wood is durable maybe more so than concrete when you consider the weather in North East. Maybe all bridges should be made of wood.

    Hey does it have a bell?
    cheers

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