11634Re: [MedievalSawdust] Re: Are Holdfasts period? (i.e. pre-17th century?)
- Jun 6, 2009On Sat, June 6, 2009 10:12 am, avery1415@... wrote:
>True enough. Of course, if you want to do a priori arguments like this
> Given the number of things you must use iron or steel for and the amount
> of iron they could make at a throw, I'm guessing iron holdfasts would
> have been pretty pricey.
one, you could point out that a family business mindset (the way most
craftsmen then were brought up) could expect to amortize the investment
over several hundred years! There's not much to wear out on a holdfast,
especially if the shank is heavy. :-)
>Sure. We have evidence of this method used too--it was traditional in
> Particularly since, if you have a sturdy bench with two holes in it and a
> stout piece of rope, you can: Thread the rope through the two holes.
> Tie a the ends of the rope together.
> Put your work on the bench, under the bit of exposed rope.
> Stick your foot in the loop and push down with your foot.
both Japan and Europe, and probably elsewhere. However, to use it you're
going to have to be able to get your foot or a treadle under the benchtop,
and there'll be pairs of holes that probably wouldn't show up for other
purposes. The use of it will be distinctive looking too--it should be
obvious in any picture of a craftsman working if it shows either the
workpiece or the worker's whole body.
This trick is actually more useful on horses that workbenches--it goes
very well with a straddled stance. European file cutters used to use a
lead-block anvil on a horse, and do your holding trick with a looped
leather strap. The biggest inconvenience to rope loops is that you end up
with a different leg position for every size of workpiece, or you have to
stop and retie the loop each time. Also, if you've ever used one, you run
into the issue of how far apart to make the holes. Unless they are very
close to the edges of the workpiece, you lose leverage very quickly, and
of course if the workpiece is wider than the holes it's hard to use this
method at all. Unless the sizing is near perfect, it doesn't hold nearly
as well as an iron holdfast. I strongly suspect that this method, in
period, was used mostly by workers who worked all day on workpieces that
were close to the same size--file makers, for instance.
If we're going to talk cheap and simple, it's hard to beat a goberge
(which got Anglicized as go-bar). Wedging a slightly springy stick
between the ceiling and your workpiece could have been used in the
Paleolithic, if you were careful about dislodging stalactites. Again,
it's sensitive to the size of workpiece (with thickness being the issue
this time) but spacer blocks can be used. Difficult under a thatch
roof--the inside timbers are often left round, and the stuff in between
won't hold at all. But it does hold the work without blocking access to
any of the edges, and like the shaving horse and the holdfast it's
actually quicker to shift than a modern vise.
"Possibles" aren't proof. They're a good first step sometimes, because
they can suggest what clues to look for. If you don't have proof
available, "possible with what they had" is usually how we fill gaps in
our knowledge during reconstructions or demos. It works most plausibly
when the record shows great variation in period ways of doing things, like
operating handles for bellows, or the shapes of hammer heads.
The issue that concerns Alex, though, is documentation. He wants evidence
from surviving artifacts, period text or period artwork, not just
possibilities. The history of technology is full of things that would
have been perfectly possible, without "tools to make the tools" problem in
a period, that nonetheless were not thought of or simply not done.
Traditional craftsmen are often just that, traditional--and in a great
many cultures "good enough for great-grandpa" is an argument that settles
everything. Historically, modern American attitudes toward innovation are
startlingly rare, and change came very slowly even in relatively
innovative places like Western Europe. Look at bench vises--which took
hundreds of years to move three hundred miles from German woodworkers to
French ones, even with German immigrants using them in Paris, according to
Roubo. For that matter, screw-vises seem to have taken more than a
century to spread from metalworkers to woodworkers, _within the one city
> I'm not saying I can absolutely document this, or that I can prove thatJust as well, because we seem to be finding proof they _did_. At least
> iron holdfasts never existed. But it's a lot cheaper solution to the
toward the end. The game continues!
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