Medieval Woodworking Resources:
Tools & Technology


Stefan's Florilegium is a collection of articles and messages from the newsgroup

Tom Rettie's article on Medieval carpenter's tools

Römsiche Werkzeuge - A reprint of a German article on Roman carpenter's tools.  Well illustrated with both artifacts and artistic representations.

Lathes & Turning

Early Wood Lathes

Tom Rettie's Article on building a pole lathe.

New Stuff The Association of Pole Lathe Turners - British group dedicated to the study and use of the pole lathe and other green woodworking techniques.

New Stuff A History of Lathes - (German) A brief illustrated history of lathes.

New Stuff Basic Pole Lathe Information - A short introduction to the pole lathe.

New Stuff The Pole Lathe - A quick look at the pole lathe, with photos.

New Stuff A Poleless Pole Lathe - Brief instructions for building a bungee cord based lathe.


New Stuff Choosing And Applying a Traditional Shellac Finish - An article by finishing guru Jeff Jewitt that contains some interesting information on the history of shellac.


North America

Doylestown, Pennsylvania - The Mercer Museum

Kingston, Ontario - MacLachlan Woodworking Museum

The Museum of Woodworking Tools - A combination of online museum and store.


Pöchlarn, Austria - Erstes Österreichisches Tischler-Museum Pöchlarn (German) - A small museum housing a collection of joiner's tools and a workshop.

Grimbergen, Belgium - Museum for Old Techniques (English, French, Dutch) - The museum houses tools from a variety of different trades, including woodworking.  There is some useful information buried in the articles on the site (mostly in French or Dutch with English summaries).

Portsmouth, England - The Mary Rose. Henry VIII's flagship. Some good drawings of tool finds from the wreck are scattered throughout the site.

St. Albans, England - Museum of St. Albans - Includes the Salaman Collection of trade tools.  This was the private collection of Raphael Salaman, noted collector and author of The Encyclopedia of Woodworking Tools.

Sheffield, England - The Hawley Collection - Housed at the University of Sheffield, the Hawley Collection concentrates on Sheffield edge tools and the documentation surrounding them.

Bremen, Germany - Tischlerei Museum Bremen (German) - The museum of the Bremen Joiners' Guild includes displays of tools, a workshop, and antique steam-powered machinery.

Langenfeld, Germany -  Hobelmuseum Langenfeld (German) - Private museum with 15,000 woodworking tools (mostly planes)

Remschied, Germany - Deutsches Werkzeugmuseum (German, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Turkish) - The German Tool Museum recently re-opened following a major renovation and expansion project. While the focus of the museum is now on the German tool industry, its collection of pre-19th century tools remains intact.

Troyes, France - Maison de l'Outil et de la Pensee Ouvriere (French, English, German) - Some 8,000 tools, mostly from the 18th Century as well as a library of books on tools and trades.  The sample displays on the web page are worth looking at.

Bergamo, Italy - The Joiner's Museum (Almenno S. Bartolomeo Museum) (Italian, English, French) - The same museum as the following, but with more detail and a different name.

Bergamo, Italy - Museo del Falegname Tino Sana Fondazione (English, Italian) - A number of reproduced woodworkers' shops (joiner, wheelwright, luthier, cooper) and their associated tools.

New Stuff Cuggiono, Italy - Museo Storico Civico Cuggionese - (Italian) - Local museum with a recreated joiner's workshop.

New Stuff S. Angelo in Vado, Italy - Museo "I vecchi mesteri" - (Italian) Museum featuring a number of recreated craft workshops including Carpentry, Cabinetmaking, and Cooperage.

Delft, Netherlands - Museum Mensert (Dutch, English Summary) - A collection of tools from a number of different woodworking trades.

Haastrecht, Netherlands - Nationaal Ambachtsmuseum Verborg (Dutch) - A museum containing some 2,000 different tools from 38 different trades.


There aren't any organizations devoted to medieval woodworking (that I know of). These are the two largest American tool collecting and early trades organizations.  Both of them offer numerous resources for members.

The Early American Industries Association

The Midwest Tool Collector's Association

The OldTools List isn't an organization per se but it's a well established community for the discussion of antique tool collecting and handtool woodworking techniques.

The Tools and Trades History Society is a British group that studies pre-19th Century tools and trades.

Les Amis de l'Outil is a French society devoted to the study of old tools.  They also run a small museum outside of Paris.  Site in French.

Contents © 2004 Gary R.Halstead