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    Curious about the way medieval nut sockets were made

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    Post by stoneagebowyer Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:36 pm

    Hi, everyone. A question that has been on my mind for a while, that perhaps someone here can answer.

    I use a drill press to bore my rolling nut sockets. This is a very precise method, but I was wondering how a 14th century or ren. period crossbow maker would have done it? Did they use curved chisels, bore the holes with a bit and brace, a reciprocating drill (a pump drill, for instance), or some other method? I'd eventually like to transition to no power tools down the road, particularly for replica crossbows.

    If anyone can shed some light into this, I'd be grateful.

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    Post by engineerit Tue Mar 20, 2012 3:44 pm

    I think the earliest boring tool was a wood mounted drill bit called a T-handled augur. As for how precise they were i have no idea. i think their main use was boring holes in wood for pegs. Hope that helps some.
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    Post by jds6 Tue Mar 20, 2012 5:35 pm

    I tried to find some early type of drill press on the net but came up empty handed. I think maybe they used just your typical brace and bit. The U shaped brace came to be somewhere between 1420-1430. Even though it was done by hand, it was easy to keep at a 90 degree angle.

    Interesting topic, maybe we will never know!

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    Post by stoneagebowyer Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:22 pm

    Thanks for the input, guys. I actually have a hand forged spoon auger, about 5/8" in diameter. It is NOT easy to use. I will have to take some photos of it and also show it in action, as I have only idly played with it as of yet. According to Alex Bealer in Old Ways of Working Wood, the shell bit predated the spoon bit.

    In fact, I have a decent selection of hand forged tools a craftsman in England made, including a froe, various types of chisels, and more. I will have to photograph them and put them up here. Some of them, including some Roman period draw knives, are really good tools that do what you want them to do. One day, I want to make a crossbow using 100% medieval technology and tools. It will be, I suspect, a real chore, but a lot of fun too.

    Dane

    PS engineer, I believe that augers were used by shipwrights and carpenters, so they must have been made in very large sizes. Betcha crossbow makers used them. Geezer probably has some insights, and I hope he chimes in.
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    Post by jds6 Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:42 pm

    hey guys, found an interesting topic on drills.www.energybullitin.net/stories/2010-12-15/hand-powered-drilling-tools-and-machines

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    Post by stoneagebowyer Tue Mar 20, 2012 6:48 pm

    jds6, the link doesnt work for me, nor does it work when I paste it into the address bar. Any way we can see this, or maybe I am just being cyber-retarded. Smile Old tool stuff is so cool to me.
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    Post by Basilisk120 Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:22 pm

    http://energybulletin.net/stories/2010-12-15/hand-powered-drilling-tools-and-machines


    That should be the correct link to article on the hand drills. Interesting stuff. That pretty much covers everything I was going to add.



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    Post by stoneagebowyer Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:52 am

    Thanks for the correct link.

    http://www.bloodandsawdust.com/TOOLS.PDF is a decent article on medieval woodworking tools. And http://www.bloodandsawdust.com/Blood_and_Sawdust/Blood_and_Sawdust_Home_Page.html is a really excellent page on woodworking projects and tools, including lathes that look like great challenges. I wonder if these type of spring pole and great wheel lathes is how a medieval crossbow maker made the rolling nuts? Bone and horn is of course different than wood, but it seems logical it can be worked with an early lathe.
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    Post by Sugarbuzz Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:33 pm

    I had been wondering about this too, in my mind I was invisioning the easiest way to drill a hole through a nut with the best precision in medieval times and the bow drill kept coming to mind. Granted this is just my take on things without any major researching. It seems to me that it would be simple enough to rig up such a thing. I'm sure that the old techniques were nowhere near as easy to use as whats available now. With enough patience anything is possible however!
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    Post by stoneagebowyer Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:47 am

    I have thought of the bow drill, and have used them before. For a large hole, say 1" in diameter, it would be a real challenge. I am kind of thinking that maybe they bore the holes in the wood when it was still green. Green woodworking is something interesting that I have done a bit of. It is a shame we dont have the shop notes of some 14th century crossbow maker.
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    Post by mac Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:26 am

    Sugarbuzz wrote:I had been wondering about this too, in my mind I was invisioning the easiest way to drill a hole through a nut with the best precision in medieval times and the bow drill kept coming to mind. Granted this is just my take on things without any major researching. It seems to me that it would be simple enough to rig up such a thing. I'm sure that the old techniques were nowhere near as easy to use as whats available now. With enough patience anything is possible however!

    Buzz,

    Drilling the hole through the nut is easy on a lathe. The nut would be roughed out to a cylinder between centers and parted from the stock. It would then be mounted on a face plate to work the sides and drill the hole. It could either be pressed into a hole bored into a wooden face plate, or glued temporarily to a flat faceplate.

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    Post by mac Fri Mar 23, 2012 7:36 am

    Dane,

    I think you may be working on a problem that did not arise for our ancestors. Most historic crossbows the nut-well could not have been drilled. Even when the nut-well is largely covered in horn, there is still about a third of the diameter below the horn, which could not have been drilled from the side.

    The exception to this is the sort of military goats foot bow which has
    iron plates over the sides of the nut-well. I think that these could
    have been drilled.


    We had a discussion of nut bearings here https://thearbalistguild.forumotion.com/t332-nut-bearing-blocks


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    Post by stoneagebowyer Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:44 am

    Thanks, Mac. The linked discussion was facinating and informative. I'm about to begin a very heavy bow, and already have decided what method and materials I am going to use, but the whole subject of making large diameter holes for applications other than crossbows (such as furniture and structures) still interests me greatly.

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