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This history of woodworking hand tools from the 17th to the 20th century is one of a very gradual evolution of tools through generations of craftsmen.
As a result, the sources of changes in design are almost impossible to ascertain. Published sources, moreover, have been concerned primarily with the object shaped by the tool rather than the tool itself.
The resulting scarcity of information is somewhat compensated for by collections in museums and restorations.
In this paper, the author spans three centuries in discussing the specialization, configuration, and change of woodworking tools in the United States.
The Author: Peter C. Welsh is curator, Growth of the United States, in the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of History and Technology.