A friend is working on his 1894 Sears Kit Home. (Absolutely beautiful home, by the way.) He asked if I might be able to make a couple of replacement sills for him. “Of course” says I, “I can whip up a sill in my sleep, with one hand tied behind my back.” Now that statement may smack of hyperbole, but old sill profiles are fairly easy to duplicate on a table saw. “Easy”, if you have a right/left tilt saw or know what “datum A” is (the base surface for measurement; “register”, si vous préfères.) Unfortunately, I have an old left tilt saw and these particular sills had not only the common angles that you’d associate with this component, rebates and ploughs were also required. I almost immediately concluded that it would be far quicker to make them by hand, especially since there were only two required.
Basically, it was a matter of sketching the profile onto the blank then running guidelines. Major stock removal was done with a carpenters axe.
After the axe work was complete, the details were incorporated and some additional planing was required. This was a clear case of “appropriate” technology being the very best choice. It would have taken twice the time to do the job with power tools. And, it smells like Christmas in the shop.
If you want to see what craftsmen can do with axes you should visit Roald Renmaelmo’s blog. The Northern and Central European traditional carpenters are absolute masters with an axe. If you have a little extra time, explore some of the links from Roalds site, there’s a lot of fascinating stuff going on.