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Tools of the Trades

by J. Hunter Barbour
Photographer Dave Doody

For those who could afford bindings, the bookbinder plied these tools to work the leather and apply gold leaf decoration.

For those who could afford bindings, the bookbinder plied these tools to work the leather and apply gold leaf decoration.

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation tradespeople make their wares by hand, hands that hold tools, eighteenth-century style tools. Gauges, tongs, punches, needles, ladles, hammers, ink balls, knives, stamps, saws, awls, bits, rules, hooks, compasses, chisels, spoke shaves, lasts, blockheads, gouges, shuttles, planes, clamps, squares, —examples of tools taken up each day by the cabinetmakers, blacksmiths, gunsmiths, silversmiths, cordwainers, wigmakers, printers, apothecaries, binders, coopers, weavers, cooks, carpenters, and others who pursue traditional crafts at Historic Area sites. Fashioned to replicate the functions and appearances of instruments used by colonial artisans, they often are, in their arrangements in the shops and stores where they are used and must be ready to hand, as interesting, and sometimes as handsome, as the furniture, cloth, houses, books, shoes, rifles, hardware, food, and fashions they, among other things, are used to reproduce. As you can see for yourself in these pages.

—J. Hunter Barbour

With a blockhead for every noggin, large and small, male and female, the wigmaker fashioned wigs for all occasions and clients.

With a blockhead for every noggin, large and small, male and female, the wigmaker fashioned wigs for all occasions and clients.

Made for him by a blacksmith, a caliper and chisels were among the cabinetmaker’s tools.

Made for him by a blacksmith, a caliper and chisels were among the cabinetmaker’s tools.

The silversmith’s hammers and stakes. The high polish on the stakes was needed to produce a flawless finish.

The silversmith’s hammers and stakes. The high polish on the stakes was needed to produce a flawless finish.

With curved drawknives to shape wooden staves and bitstocks to drill holes for pins, the cooper fashioned casks and barrels.

With curved drawknives to shape wooden staves and bitstocks to drill holes for pins, the cooper fashioned casks and barrels.

Able to make many of his tools, the carpenter used planes and clamps in woodworking.

Able to make many of his tools, the carpenter used planes and clamps in woodworking.

A collection of iron tongs used by the blacksmith to hold pieces of differing sizes and shapes.

A collection of iron tongs used by the blacksmith to hold pieces of differing sizes and shapes.

At the foundry, the smith finished a casting on the lathe with tools from this rack.

At the foundry, the smith finished a casting on the lathe with tools from this rack.

Utensils made of copper, brass, tin, and iron hang from the lintel of a kitchen fireplace.

Utensils made of copper, brass, tin, and iron hang from the lintel of a kitchen fireplace.




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Tools of the Trades Slideshow

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