Medieval Woodworking Tools

Written by billy mccarley
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Medieval Woodworking Tools
Medieval woodworkers used sharp blades to manually shape and cut wood. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Medieval woodworkers designed and used various tools in creating cabinets, chairs and chests, as well as larger projects, such as buildings and bridges. These tools range from steel-bladed hand saws to manual drills and hand planes. Each of these tools was considered technologically advanced because of the steel blades that were in use rather than iron, which was soft and fragile.

Hand Saw

The medieval hand saw was similar to modern-day hand saws. However, the saw teeth were not spaced closely together as steelworking had not refined this method yet. The saw blade was 2 to 3 inches wide and 3 to 4 feet long, which is a bit longer than the modern day hand saw. Medieval saws were fitted with straight handles rather than hooked handles. These saws were good for rough cutting. However, to refine the cut, the woodworker used sharp-bladed tools.


The medieval axe was made from polished steel. The axe head was rounded on one side to facilitate quick cutting. This head was placed on a wooden handle 3 to 4 feet long and 2 inches in diameter. Woodworkers used the axe to cut trees for lumber usage and square logs for building and bridge usage. The axe was sharp enough to make fine, even cuts along lumber in order to shape boards, as well.

Medieval Woodworking Tools
The medieval axe was used for various woodworking projects. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)


The medieval drill was made from steel and wood. The drill base held crude drill bits that may have been similar to a medieval nail. The woodworker held the drill with one hand on a loose wooden handle and turned the drill with the opposite hand. These drills could bore clean holes up to 1 inch in diameter. Although this drill was used by the expert craftsman, it could also be used by the average hobbyist during the medieval period.


The wooden block plane was used to fine-tune wooden projects. This tool was made from a wooden block 2 inches wide and 6 to 8 inches long. It was fitted with a sharp, steel blade on one side that was set inside the block at an angle and protruding from the block surface only 1/8 inch. The woodworker pushed the plane along a wood surface, with the blade trimming small amounts of wood from the project to create a smooth surface.

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