RE: [MedievalSawdust] Holdfasts and Moulding Planes
I wouldn’t contradict your research however I’m not sure I would ascribe to this without seeing a lot of compelling documentation. I would agree that little if any evidence of holdfasts exist prior to the 16th century, however I’m not convinced of its connection to the moulding plane.
Early timberframed structures are replete with incredibly complex mouldings, so regardless of extant tools, we have a rich tradition of use. There are a number of illustrations showing edge jointing of large planks held securely in the upright position wedged into notched logs. The use of spring lines on a moulding planes continues presently, due to the angle of attack, and the plane is simply held to that degree in use. I’ve never experienced, seen, read or otherwise heard of anyone trying to hold the *board* askew just to keep the plane level. If this were the case wouldn’t 16th-19thc woodworking traditions and benches would reflect it, and since the spring can be different on each plane, the angle would have to be constantly changing. Further, the bulk if not all of medieval mouldings the I have come across can be done with rebates, plows, and hollows/rounds (examples of which were all found with the Mary Rose), so a complex or specialized moulding plane requiring spring would not even be a necessity and could easily fall into very late or post-period as things became more standardized.
Of course I don’t have many actual medieval examples to compare against so I would welcome any evidence to the contrary from those that do, or an example of a moulding that has to be produced that way.
If we are talking about L shaped iron holdfasts, they appear to emerge in the 16th century.
Earlier wooden pegs probabl gave rise to iron L shaped holdfasts by accident.....likely something like a long nail stuck in the peg wedged well and the idea emerged by happenstance/accident.
The holdfast does indeed also assist the rise of the plane....the two are critical partners. Planes did indeed exist, but the holdfast allowed the board to be held at newer angles and far more securely.....thus then giving rise to the molding plane. Early planes have springs or crosshairs that are designed for the alignment of the plane on the boards edge....a board was held onto an splayed leg (table leg set in at an angle) so the spring crosshairs on the molding plane allowed the user to keep the plane angled correctly. Ergo, without the strong hold of a holdfast...the molding plane and molding itself, including a wide range of applications from room molding to panels on furniture and walls would not have been possible.
Im nerdy like that.... done a lot of research on the transition from Medieval to Colonial woodworking.
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Isn't there one in "de re metallica"? on the shaving bench for making fir sticks for lighting fires I think I remember seeing it.
there is also a very late illustration of one In Roubo's work
Does anyone have an illustration of a medieval holdfast? I was sure I did but looking back all I see are bench stops.
- There is a depiction of what is fairly clearly a holdfast in an intarsia in San Petronio in Bologna, from between 1468 and 1477. A reproduction of rather low quality can be found in Josef Greber's Die Geschichte des Hobels (1987), p. 133. It is shown on a low bench which also has a jack-size plane on its top.One respectable history of woodworking, Gunther Heine, Das Werkzeug des Schreiners und Drechslers, claims " ... der Winkelhaken war ebenfalls schon in Roemischer Zeit bekannt." (p. 38). However, Heine gives no further evidence and I have examined the numerous drawings, paintings, carvings, etc., of woodworking and shops reproduced in Heine in vain for a depiction of holdfasts earlier than the 15th century intarsia in Bologna.