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Re: [MedievalSawdust] Mastermyr reconstructions:

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  • conradh@...
    ... Why no handles on the box? No idea. Why no handles on the tools inside? That s what got me thinking that they were obtained that way; tool heads with
    Message 1 of 9 , Aug 29, 2013
      > I had wondered it it had been stolen (because of the broken locks and
      > hole) and the thief dumped it when pursued. I like your ideas better
      > though. Why no handles?

      Why no handles on the box? No idea. Why no handles on the tools inside?
      That's what got me thinking that they were obtained that way; tool heads
      with missing or broken-off handles, taken by the box owner in trade for
      some other repair job or finished piece. I have hundreds of pounds of old
      tool heads in my scrap pile, but iron is much cheaper these days and I
      don't have to carry them all around with me. But every year I clean up a
      few of them and make new handles for customers, or teach a student how to
      do it for their own collection. A traveling smith would find a "scrap
      pile" equally useful, but would be limited in how much he could carry
      around with him.


      > On 8/24/2013 7:45 PM, conradh@... wrote:
      >> > Cool. I would challenge you to be the first blacksmith to put the
      >> handles
      >> > on the Mastermyr scorp (and other "drawknives") correctly instead of
      >> the
      >> > conjectural drawing of the non-woodworking archaeologist. :) It's
      >> funny
      >> > how everyone copies that wholesale without thinking about it.
      >> >
      >> > Guillaume
      >> You mean the artist who doesn't seem to know a scorp from a
      >> spokeshave? :-)
      >> That's not the only issue with Mastermyr tool handles. Everybody
      >> describes that chest as a toolbox, as if it was full of usable tools
      >> that
      >> the owner would dig into when he wanted to hew a beam or bore a hole.
      >> Someone checked it out and found that if those tool heads were all
      >> restored with reasonable wooden handles, they wouldn't begin to fit in
      >> the
      >> box. Everyone had assumed that the wooden handles had been there and had
      >> rotted away--and apparently never asked why the bog environment would
      >> have
      >> rotted the tool handles and left the box around them untouched!
      >> Rural Scandinavian smiths were itinerant in those days; instead of a
      >> smith
      >> having a shop on his farm and the neighbors coming there to get work
      >> done,
      >> apparently the smith would travel from neighbor to neighbor in the slack
      >> season, carrying his hand tools and using forge, bellows and stone anvil
      >> that each farm kept for the purpose. The Mastermyr box has always been
      >> interpreted as the working toolbox of such a smith, lost while crossing
      >> the lake that later filled in with peat to become the Mastermyr
      >> meadow/field.
      >> But there's all kinds of other metal junk in that box. Also, the owner
      >> had locks inside, but the lock on the box itself seems to have been long
      >> broken, and left unrepaired; instead a length of chain had simply been
      >> wrapped around the box to hold the lid closed. Some archaeologists have
      >> also suggested that some of the holes in the box were there when it was
      >> lost, not just gouged out by the plow point that snagged it out of the
      >> ground.
      >> As a working smith, I can testify to the efficiency of keeping projects
      >> around for times you only have a single paying piece you're working on.
      >> I
      >> have several buckets of such next to my forge right now; they provide
      >> items that can be heating while the first piece is being hammered or
      >> filed
      >> or bent. My professional opinion is that the Mastermyr chest was not a
      >> smith's working toolbox at all; but a smith's project box/scrap pile.
      >> There were no hardware stores back then. The smith, whether at home or
      >> on
      >> the road, _was_ the hardware source. And iron was scarce and expensive;
      >> in every preindustrial culture that worked iron, smiths are described as
      >> always taking iron in trade. Worn-out or broken items, if not repaired
      >> directly, would become the raw material for something else, and the
      >> smith
      >> would allow some credit for the metal brought in when the new item was
      >> priced, just as is done with a car trade-in today. So a smith would
      >> trade
      >> in scrap as well as make new items and do repairs; and a stash of tools
      >> with broken handles might be a fine shortcut the next time a customer
      >> wanted an axe or hammer. No heavy forging--just dress the working
      >> surfaces, carve a handle and fit it, and the customer has a "new" tool,
      >> or
      >> good as new. I do this today, and every general blacksmith with a
      >> walk-in
      >> trade has done it too.
      >> If you have a permanent shop, there is no end to how much stuff can pile
      >> up; look at any smithy today for an example! But an itinerant smith
      >> would
      >> have to choose; the Mastermyr box looks to me like a well-chosen
      >> assortment of readily restorable tools that could plausibly be in
      >> occasional demand in a neighborhood of small farmer/handymen. This
      >> explains very well why a smith with the files and hacksaw for
      >> locksmithing, who carried locks around, had a long-broken lock on his
      >> own
      >> "toolbox". Or why he bothered carrying a bunch of unhandled tool heads
      >> in
      >> the way of his working tool set!
      >> So if Mastermyr is not a toolbox, but an itinerant scrap and
      >> get-to-it-someday collection that includes tools without handles, one
      >> wonders what became of the _other_ box. The one on the other side of the
      >> packhorse when it fell through the ice or suffered a harness breakage.
      >> Did the real toolbox get recovered and make it home? Or is it still down
      >> there in the peat, sunk just enough deeper that the metal detectors
      >> deployed by the researchers haven't found it yet?
      >> Ulfhedinn
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