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Re: [MedievalSawdust] Before sandpaper

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  • d6crawler
    I ve heard horsetail fern was used as an abrasive. It seems like it would turn things green but maybe they dried it first? Daniel
    Message 1 of 12 , May 14, 2012
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      I've heard horsetail fern was used as an abrasive. It seems like it would turn things green but maybe they dried it first?

      Daniel


      From: AlbionWood <albionwood@...>
      To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
      Sent: Monday, May 14, 2012 6:26 PM
      Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Before sandpaper

       
      The simple answer is, planes. Handplanes are known from Viking Age
      archaeology (and earlier), and it's pretty easy to leave a very smooth
      flat surface with a sharp handplane on air-dried wood.

      The longer answer is to consider the entire process by which wood was
      prepared for a project, and the kinds of projects undertaken, and
      realize that the kind of smoothing accomplished by sandpaper was
      basically never needed. This is true not only for the Viking era, but
      most later medieval work as well.

      Most of the (flat-surface) medieval wooden objects I've been able to
      examine displayed plane-tracks; it was clear that no further surface
      prep had been done after planing. Carved work is of course not sanded
      or scraped, as nothing beats the surfaces left by the chisel.

      I'm not a turner and haven't examined as many turned objects, but most
      of the ones I have seen displayed very obvious tool-marks, indicating
      they had not been surfaced after turning.

      Cheers,
      Tim

      On 5/14/2012 12:56 PM, kenneth bain wrote:
      > Before the first sand paper(glass paper) what did the earlier woodworker, like during the Viking age, use to smooth thier projects?


    • Lynda Fjellman
      Horsetail isn t really a fern.  As far as how it works as a wood smoother I couldn t say, but it was used as a pot scrubber.  It has a lot of silica in it.
      Message 2 of 12 , May 14, 2012
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        Horsetail isn't really a fern.  As far as how it works as a wood smoother I couldn't say, but it was used as a pot scrubber.  It has a lot of silica in it.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equisetum

        It it native here in Western Washington and I have seen it in S. California as well.

        Ilaria


         
        I've heard horsetail fern was used as an abrasive. It seems like it would turn things green but maybe they dried it first?

        Daniel


        From: AlbionWood <albionwood@...>
        To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Monday, May 14, 2012 6:26 PM
        Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Before sandpaper

         
        The simple answer is, planes. Handplanes are known from Viking Age
        archaeology (and earlier), and it's pretty easy to leave a very smooth
        flat surface with a sharp handplane on air-dried wood.

        The longer answer is to consider the entire process by which wood was
        prepared for a project, and the kinds of projects undertaken, and
        realize that the kind of smoothing accomplished by sandpaper was
        basically never needed. This is true not only for the Viking era, but
        most later medieval work as well.

        Most of the (flat-surface) medieval wooden objects I've been able to
        examine displayed plane-tracks; it was clear that no further surface
        prep had been done after planing. Carved work is of course not sanded
        or scraped, as nothing beats the surfaces left by the chisel.

        I'm not a turner and haven't examined as many turned objects, but most
        of the ones I have seen displayed very obvious tool-marks, indicating
        they had not been surfaced after turning.

        Cheers,
        Tim

        On 5/14/2012 12:56 PM, kenneth bain wrote:
        > Before the first sand paper(glass paper) what did the earlier woodworker, like during the Viking age, use to smooth thier projects?




      • Stuart
        ... I place my horsetail grass in a loose weave bag and hang it under the deck to dry before using it. I first heard of it while attending a lute construction
        Message 3 of 12 , May 14, 2012
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          On 5/14/2012 3:50 PM, d6crawler wrote:
          I've heard horsetail fern was used as an abrasive. It seems like it would turn things green but maybe they dried it first?


          I place my horsetail grass in a loose weave bag and hang it under the deck to dry before using it. I first heard of it while attending a lute construction seminar last summer. I'm looking for the reference, but a paper from the 16thC discussing lute construction, mentions using this to finish the surface. Master Luthier Grant Tomlinson who taught the class, uses this on all his lutes.
          I've used this on strings and by handfuls while turning. The latter makes a mess, but works great.

          Aleyn
        • Karl Christoffers
          Somewhre I have a print out of an e-mail from Arne Emil Christensen, who has done a lot of research into viking shipbuilding. He wrote that horsetails were
          Message 4 of 12 , May 15, 2012
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            Somewhre I have a print out of an e-mail from Arne Emil Christensen, who has done a lot of research into viking shipbuilding. He wrote that horsetails were used by the Norse before sand/glasspaper.
             
            - Malcolm macGregor,
            An Tir

            From: Lynda Fjellman <lyndafjellman@...>
            To: "medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com" <medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com>
            Sent: Monday, May 14, 2012 5:01 PM
            Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Before sandpaper

             
            Horsetail isn't really a fern.  As far as how it works as a wood smoother I couldn't say, but it was used as a pot scrubber.  It has a lot of silica in it.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equisetum

            It it native here in Western Washington and I have seen it in S. California as well.

            Ilaria

             
            I've heard horsetail fern was used as an abrasive. It seems like it would turn things green but maybe they dried it first?

            Daniel

            From: AlbionWood <albionwood@...>
            To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
            Sent: Monday, May 14, 2012 6:26 PM
            Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Before sandpaper

             
            The simple answer is, planes. Handplanes are known from Viking Age
            archaeology (and earlier), and it's pretty easy to leave a very smooth
            flat surface with a sharp handplane on air-dried wood.

            The longer answer is to consider the entire process by which wood was
            prepared for a project, and the kinds of projects undertaken, and
            realize that the kind of smoothing accomplished by sandpaper was
            basically never needed. This is true not only for the Viking era, but
            most later medieval work as well.

            Most of the (flat-surface) medieval wooden objects I've been able to
            examine displayed plane-tracks; it was clear that no further surface
            prep had been done after planing. Carved work is of course not sanded
            or scraped, as nothing beats the surfaces left by the chisel.

            I'm not a turner and haven't examined as many turned objects, but most
            of the ones I have seen displayed very obvious tool-marks, indicating
            they had not been surfaced after turning.

            Cheers,
            Tim

            On 5/14/2012 12:56 PM, kenneth bain wrote:
            > Before the first sand paper(glass paper) what did the earlier woodworker, like during the Viking age, use to smooth thier projects?






          • Liedtke Goetz
            Didn t the horses object?  No amount of sanding with a horse tail will take out the hoof print from a kick. ________________________________ From: Karl
            Message 5 of 12 , May 15, 2012
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              Didn't the horses object?  No amount of sanding with a horse tail will take out the hoof print from a kick.


              From: Karl Christoffers <interestingclutter@...>
              To: "medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com" <medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 6:34 PM
              Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Before sandpaper



              Somewhre I have a print out of an e-mail from Arne Emil Christensen, who has done a lot of research into viking shipbuilding. He wrote that horsetails were used by the Norse before sand/glasspaper.
               
              - Malcolm macGregor,
              An Tir

              From: Lynda Fjellman <lyndafjellman@...>
              To: "medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com" <medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com>
              Sent: Monday, May 14, 2012 5:01 PM
              Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Before sandpaper

               
              Horsetail isn't really a fern.  As far as how it works as a wood smoother I couldn't say, but it was used as a pot scrubber.  It has a lot of silica in it.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equisetum

              It it native here in Western Washington and I have seen it in S. California as well.

              Ilaria

               
              I've heard horsetail fern was used as an abrasive. It seems like it would turn things green but maybe they dried it first?

              Daniel

              From: AlbionWood <albionwood@...>
              To: medievalsawdust@yahoogroups.com
              Sent: Monday, May 14, 2012 6:26 PM
              Subject: Re: [MedievalSawdust] Before sandpaper

               
              The simple answer is, planes. Handplanes are known from Viking Age
              archaeology (and earlier), and it's pretty easy to leave a very smooth
              flat surface with a sharp handplane on air-dried wood.

              The longer answer is to consider the entire process by which wood was
              prepared for a project, and the kinds of projects undertaken, and
              realize that the kind of smoothing accomplished by sandpaper was
              basically never needed. This is true not only for the Viking era, but
              most later medieval work as well.

              Most of the (flat-surface) medieval wooden objects I've been able to
              examine displayed plane-tracks; it was clear that no further surface
              prep had been done after planing. Carved work is of course not sanded
              or scraped, as nothing beats the surfaces left by the chisel.

              I'm not a turner and haven't examined as many turned objects, but most
              of the ones I have seen displayed very obvious tool-marks, indicating
              they had not been surfaced after turning.

              Cheers,
              Tim

              On 5/14/2012 12:56 PM, kenneth bain wrote:
              > Before the first sand paper(glass paper) what did the earlier woodworker, like during the Viking age, use to smooth thier projects?










            • conradh@efn.org
              ... Well, many hand-tool woodworkers today still dislike using sandpaper, and go with the finish left by a good smoothing plane. Or, on difficult grain,
              Message 6 of 12 , May 16, 2012
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                > Before the first sand paper(glass paper) what did the earlier woodworker,
                > like during the Viking age, use to smooth thier projects?
                >
                >
                Well, many hand-tool woodworkers today still dislike using sandpaper, and
                go with the finish left by a good smoothing plane. Or, on difficult
                grain, scrapers of metal or pieces of broken glass.

                Sandpaper as such is mostly a thing of the power tool era I believe.
                Power tools don't leave as nice a finish on the work, and period glues are
                awfully brittle for holding abrasive powders to a flexible backing, and
                paper was really too expensive for disposable uses until the 19th century.

                Sandpaper probably came from the widespread use of sharkskin as a flexible
                finishing abrasive, for touching up spots a plane or scraper couldn't
                reach, or prepping a surface for paint. This was done in coastal areas
                all over the world; Pacific island woodcarvers and NW Coast Indian
                woodworkers used it, among various Eurasians and probably anyone with a
                supply of sharks. Another ancestor could have been the custom of loading
                up a cloth or scrap of leather with an abrasive powder such as sand or
                emery and polishing with that. If you do it over a hide or smooth
                worktable, you can gather up all the spilled grit and reuse it several
                times. Having the cloth/leather slightly damp with water or oil helps the
                grit to stick around a little longer.

                You can also use metal files for smoothing wood. I do this fairly often,
                especially on contrary bits of grain. Stone age woodworkers often use
                stones for smoothing and polishing wooden projects, the more sophisticated
                ones having stones of different coarseness and progressing just as we
                would with grades of sandpaper. With either one of these techniques, it
                helps to have a bristly brush to clean the cutting surface often, since it
                clogs with wood powder fairly quickly.
              • conradh@efn.org
                Oh, yeah. Horsetails (the reedlike fern relative, not the equine flyswatter!) were used to polish work by rubbing them back and forth on it or holding them
                Message 7 of 12 , May 16, 2012
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                  Oh, yeah. Horsetails (the reedlike fern relative, not the equine
                  flyswatter!) were used to polish work by rubbing them back and forth on it
                  or holding them against turnings being spun in a lathe. This would not
                  remove lathe tool or even plane marks, just polish the surfaces the tools
                  left.

                  In a similar vein, some turners hold their own turning-chips against the
                  spinning work in handfuls, for a final polish. The work still looks
                  handmade, just shinier, and you can't beat the price!
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