Frontier tools

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Ajgall

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I always debate what type of tools would a pioneer traveling across the Cumberland gap carried with them. What tools what be your must have items setting up a homestead, excluding firelock, and related items of course. I would bring:
Double bit felling axe
Small axe or hawk
Grub hoe (no handle just the hoe)
Frame saw
1 1/2” Scotch eye auger
Socket chisel
Large file

What am I missing?
 

Brokennock

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I always debate what type of tools would a pioneer traveling across the Cumberland gap carried with them. What tools what be your must have items setting up a homestead, excluding firelock, and related items of course. I would bring:
Double bit felling axe
Small axe or hawk
Grub hoe (no handle just the hoe)
Frame saw
1 1/2” Scotch eye auger
Socket chisel
Large file

What am I missing?
@Spence10 had a detailed list compiled from actual supply and inventory lists. I believe there is one such mentioned in the book, "Seed Time On The Cumberland."
Just from memory, which isn't good, there was a little of everything listed. Bellows, screw plates, files, axes, pliers,,,,, etc. etc.
 

tenngun

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From stock supply reports we know that most everything was sold on the frontier. We think of it as isolated and farmers playing naked and afraid, but in fact lots of stuff from axes to chocolate and lace got sold beyond the pale.
Howsomever
A hoe made from a shoulder blade serves well. Scapula, is Latin for hoe.
A saw and a tree will give you a mallet or hammer real quick. A fro is real handy, but you can make shingles with a axe and wedges…. And time
Nails are good, locust thorns can work well. And when the work was done men folk whittled treenails
Townsend has some good homestead vids on doing stuff from cabin building and tool making to brick burning, with minimal equipment to start.
 

Artificer

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A good spade/shovel to dig your wagon wheels out of soft ground/mud while traveling and of course to dig your "necessary."

Gus
 

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Oops, forgot some things.

A good sewing awl, needles, linen thread, beeswax and some leather to repair things.

At least one Iron or brass pot with lid and perhaps a frying pan to cook in.

A spoon, cup or mug, bowl and maybe a plate for each person. Now these could be made of wood, horn or metal.

A Rush Light or Betty Lamp.

If bringing a wife with you, then definitely a spinning wheel.

Gus
 

Brokennock

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Oops, forgot some things.

A good sewing awl, needles, linen thread, beeswax and some leather to repair things.

At least one Iron or brass pot with lid and perhaps a frying pan to cook in.

A spoon, cup or mug, bowl and maybe a plate for each person. Now these could be made of wood, horn or metal.

A Rush Light or Betty Lamp.

If bringing a wife with you, then definitely a spinning wheel.

Gus
Yup, I've seen a few period descriptions of families traveling to build new homes and lives on the frontier that describe the parts for a spinning wheel being carried.

Containers of seeds. Whether bags of corn, jars or similar of flax seed, squash and bean seeds. (If anyone has period references I'd be curious as to how seed stock was transported)

I'm betting more than one block and tackle went with settlers. Again, anyone have a reference?

Wondering how early a bit-brace and bits would have been in the hands of someone not in a trade needing one. Would seem a very handy item for someone carving out a new home out of nothing.
 

tenngun

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Yup, I've seen a few period descriptions of families traveling to build new homes and lives on the frontier that describe the parts for a spinning wheel being carried.

Containers of seeds. Whether bags of corn, jars or similar of flax seed, squash and bean seeds. (If anyone has period references I'd be curious as to how seed stock was transported)

I'm betting more than one block and tackle went with settlers. Again, anyone have a reference?

Wondering how early a bit-brace and bits would have been in the hands of someone not in a trade needing one. Would seem a very handy item for someone carving out a new home out of nothing.
Can’t say for eighteenth century but in 1859 a army captain wrote a book on the western trials. It was a guid to water, restocking, and general equipment.and he recommends blocks and tackle and plenty of line.
He had twenty years experience in the west from before the Mexican American war.
Not uncommon for officers to stay a captain or lower for almost their whole career in absence of war
Anyway, he didn’t give a date for when he went west, just ‘over twenty years’. So the book was written cr 58, maybe as early as ‘57. And that takes his experience back to mountian man times, and before the opening of the Oregon trail, gold rush Ect
Unfortunately I lost the book, and can’t tell you the name or the author
This is of course eighty years since the settlement of of the trans Appalachia.
 

Ajgall

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From stock supply reports we know that most everything was sold on the frontier. We think of it as isolated and farmers playing naked and afraid, but in fact lots of stuff from axes to chocolate and lace got sold beyond the pale.
Howsomever
A hoe made from a shoulder blade serves well. Scapula, is Latin for hoe.
A saw and a tree will give you a mallet or hammer real quick. A fro is real handy, but you can make shingles with a axe and wedges…. And time
Nails are good, locust thorns can work well. And when the work was done men folk whittled treenails
Townsend has some good homestead vids on doing stuff from cabin building and tool making to brick burning, with minimal equipment to start.
The Townsend’s video’s are what got me thinking about the op. I’m reading Hunter’s of Kentucky by Ted Franklin Belue now and the appendix includes an inventory of items carried in for trade, and you are correct there was a healthy assortment of goods available on the frontier.
 

Ajgall

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Yup, I've seen a few period descriptions of families traveling to build new homes and lives on the frontier that describe the parts for a spinning wheel being carried.

Containers of seeds. Whether bags of corn, jars or similar of flax seed, squash and bean seeds. (If anyone has period references I'd be curious as to how seed stock was transported)

I'm betting more than one block and tackle went with settlers. Again, anyone have a reference?

Wondering how early a bit-brace and bits would have been in the hands of someone not in a trade needing one. Would seem a very handy item for someone carving out a new home out of nothing.
I have also wondered about bits and braces and pliers in the possession of non- craftsmen.
 

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I'm betting more than one block and tackle went with settlers. Again, anyone have a reference?

Wondering how early a bit-brace and bits would have been in the hands of someone not in a trade needing one. Would seem a very handy item for someone carving out a new home out of nothing.
1626952501715.png


Figure 1.—1685: The principal tools that the carpenter needed to frame a house, as listed by Johann Amos Comenius in his Orbis Sensualium Pictus were the felling axe (4), wedge and beetle (7 and 8), chip axe (10), saw (12), trestle (14), and pulley (15). (Charles Hoole transl., London, 1685. Courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library.)

As to a complete set of brace and bits, almost certainly not. WAY too expensive. He MAY have had one or two sizes and probably each with it's own simple wooden brace, as illustrated below.

1626954601006.png


Figure 36.—1703: The joiner's brace and bit—a detail from Moxon, Mechanick Exercises ..., London, 1703. (Library of Congress, Smithsonian photo 56635.)

More info on the kinds of tools commonly available and used:


Mechanick exercises, or, The doctrine of handy-works : applied to the arts of smithing, joinery, carpentry, turning, bricklayery : to which is added Mechanick dyalling: shewing how to draw a true sun-dyal on any given plane ... : Moxon, Joseph, 1627-1691 : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Gus
 

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Oh, in case anyone missed it, the most common type of bit for carpentry and joiners was the "spoon" or half round bit for most of the 18th century. This is the type shown in the link above.

Center Bits for Braces (like the one pictured below) were invented in England, but I do not have an exact date when they were invented. I'm guessing around 1760 or so because I have seen old engravings of them and things made with them from around a decade later. HOWEVER, these didn't become in common/general use outside particular trades until the late 18th to early 19th centuries.

1626957194810.png


The above illustration came from this link that shows how they were sharpened and used.

Sharpening Center Bits – Bob Rozaieski Fine Woodworking (brfinewoodworking.com)

Gus
 

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I have also wondered about bits and braces and pliers in the possession of non- craftsmen.
The most common type of plier, if they had any pliers at all, would have been a pair of farrier's nippers and perhaps a smaller version of that. The below picture shows a set that came out around 1820, BUT with plain ends to the handles, they go back to the 17th century.

1626958873546.png


Here's a REALLY fancy 17th/18th century set:

1626960618943.png





Gus
 
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Artificer

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Box Joint Pliers do go back the 1703 edition of Moxon's Mechanick Exercises and many different types were available to the trades that needed them in the 18th century.

1626959664760.png


I keep a small pair of "kinda" flat nose ones like the above pic in my period leather sewing/repair kit. These are not hard to find because so many were made right up to today. Look for these at flea markets, antique stores, old tool shops, etc. and get a pair that does not have the country of origin marked or stamped on them. Ones with checkering on the handles were also well known in the 18th century.

Honestly, these would not have been common for folks going over the mountains to stake out land for the first time and not common on most period farms. However, they were widely available for the entire 18th century and beyond.

Gus
 
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