Monday, March 1, 2010

Films from 1930s Finland

Heritage Crafts Association posted a link on its facebook page to some interesting films made in Finland from 1936-1939.

One in particular is a film that woodworkers will like. It's 34 minutes long and here are some key parts:
10:30-12:13: using a bow saw, auger, and axe to make a maul.
12:47-18:54: using an axe, knife, and frame saw to make an axe handle; and using a piece of glass as a scraper.

The remaining minutes show some agile knife work to make toys and slats, and wooden wedges to split logs.

Here is a link to the video and here is a link to the main page if you would like to see other crafts.
You'll want to install the latest version of Flash, otherwise, the films are pretty choppy.


Adam said...

It's amazing what can be done with the fewest amount of tools. Any tool is as versatile as the mind of the maker.

Thanks for finding this sharing

gchpaco said...

It's very interesting to watch some of those operations. I'm obviously much too used to dry hardwood because I find it unbelievable that they can sever fibers with a knife, however sharp.

Much weirder to me, though, is the way the men use axes. I was always told that hitting things with the poll of your axe was a good way to break it, that putting a hatchet onto a log and whacking it would blow the eye out quickly and destroy the head, and that hitting things with the side of an axe is just wrong, but these Finns just do so with abandon. Very disturbing to watch.

Kari Hultman said...

Well said, Adam. :o)

gchpaco, the same thing caught my attention about using an axe as a hammer. They didn't seem to be tapping too hard, though, so maybe that's why the didn't break. Or....maybe it's why he was making a new axe. ; )

Adrian Baird Ba Than said...

Quite beautiful the way that axe handle is being peeled from that piece of lumber,a man fully versed & expert in his chosen craft.The fluid way those gnarled old hands brought that handle into existence is as graceful to me as any dancer...
Nice find,
Go Hultman!!!

Kari Hultman said...

I'm with you, Black. I loved that old man's weathered face and wrinkled hands juxtaposed with the smooth, white axe handle.

Erik said...

So, I thought I was crazy, but I ran it back to watch again...
He is turning the "T" handle auger at 11:25 counter-(or anti)clockwise.

I have used those quite a bit. I've never seen one made to use counterclockwise.

Pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

The film may be "mirrored" when it was copyed. I saw that in some of the swedish achiverfilms on SVT.


Anonymous said...

I just about fell over when he broke a piece of glass to use as a scraper for the final much for burnishing! Fantastic material there.

Anonymous said...

A bit of translation:
- The film was made during the same week as the Christian Pentecost,at the end of May, 1938. The old man, Iivari Mattila was 80 years old at the time. So he was born 1858.

Being an intelligent and skilled fellow, his co-operation with the film crew was very good.

Mattila explained many of the details of his crafts, but the film crew didn't have audio recording equipment with them at the time.

Regarding to using axe as a hammer.
I think that those days the axe handle was somewhat disposable equipment, once it broke, you just made a new one without much of a hassle. Forest working was a common occupation at the time and so almost everyone knew how to make an axe handle.

T. J o F

Kari Hultman said...

Nice catch, Eagle-Eye Erik!

Heinrich, thanks for lending an explanation and for starting me on the quest to find more vintage films. :o)

Anon, I'm going to try that glass trick. A friend told me the same thing but I never tried it. It looks like it works really well.

T. J o F, Thank you for the translation!! Wonderful. I was hoping that someone could shed some light on the text.

Dave said...

If you notice, the patch on his knee switches legs half way through. Along with the aforementioned "mirroring", that may explain the odd direction of the auger.

As for the hitting of a hammer, I've always been told not to hit an axe with a metal hammer. Wooden mallets were always allowed. The sharp jar of metal on metal was the dangerous thing. That's just what I was told.

As for me, my heritage is Estonian, and the Finns are our closest relatives culturally speaking. I've seen pictures of my ancestors, but to see a film of how they would have lived was great. I'm envious of the 'stache.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kari,
pretty cool seeing living history. Here is a link you may find interesting too from a few years back. This is found on the National Film Board of Canada. Making of a birch bark canoe, with quite limited hand tools.

Really enjoy your blog
cheers, Patrick

Kari Hultman said...

Dave, I have heard that, too, about not hitting metal on metal, as with two hammers.

Patrick, thanks for the link! I got halfway through and the film stopped, so I'll try again. I like how that guy uses his knee as a form to bend the wood by eye.

kanishk said...
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