carved panel depicting tools

Seeing the recent post on Lost Art Press’ blog about misericords was great.  Suzanne Ellison has rounded up images of a bunch of woodworkers – nice to have them in one place. Misericords are always an eye-opener. The thing about them that gets me is the piece of oak they come from…really large pie-shaped chunks. Makes me think riven. makes me wonder why these large pieces have no checks & splits in them. Nobody ever talks about how they were made, only about the carvings and the irreverence of them. Her’e’s a photo I shot on our 2005 trip, so maybe Yorkshire, or en route.


Another thing her post did for me was to remind me that I wanted to show this carved panel to Roy Underhill. He & I were boring end-grain recently (shrink pots), and were crowing about how lucky we were to not be boring water pipes.

Dutch blockmakers sign

This carving is thought to be a shop sign for blockmakers in Amsterdam. I think it’s late 1680s/90s if I recall correctly. A friend gave me the photo years ago, and I never have posted it. Was waiting for him to publish it…but time moves on. It’s in one of the Amsterdam museums, I forget which.

I broke it down into 2 detail shots too – this one with the lathe, skew chisel & gouges, planes, drawknives, calipers – great detail.

Dutch blockmakers sign_lathe etc


Here’s the other half.

Dutch blockmakers sign_edited-1

The dog; the kid putting shavings in the basket,  boring tools, hatchets, saws – it’s all here in great detail. Enjoy it.

15 thoughts on “carved panel depicting tools

  1. Thanks for this post! it’s a chance for us that the use of sacred figures was prohibited by the Church on the misericords. Do not forget the usefulness of misericords, clergy do not want their post in contact with pious effigies. and so we have now, many pictures of the world of our grand-grand-grand fathers carvers.

  2. I love that carving from Amsterdam! It’s not in the Rijksmuseum I think, visited that one last year and didn’t see anything like this.

    Those planes! And the saws! I love it.

  3. Wonderful post and pictures Peter! The top picture helped me get a better grasp of how these are situated on the chair. Couldn’t quite grasp it from her post(kind of had an idea) . But WOW is the word that comes to mind about that panel!

  4. Well, gosh, and it’s not even just about the blocks (despite the King Block top center) — love that they’re boring out a pump as the main activity… and the ships’ tops and some chafing gear and possibly even some elusive rigging tools depicted upper left. What an amazing piece!

  5. The shop sign now resides in the museum Rotterdam in the Netherlands. The shop sign is from the block-, pump- and mast-making firm ‘Int Gekroonde Ynblock’ (in the crowned …block) that used to be in the Leuvehaven westside in Rotterdam and was founded by Cornelis Maes van der Stuit in 1694. The board is carved from beech and measures 52.0 cm by 133.0 cm by 12 cm depth.

  6. In addition to the ship blocks, there are what appears a small cannon in the upper left corner, possibly two crow’s nests (the things that look like wagon wheels), a carriage for a cannon behind the dog, and a variety of other tackle and fittings for wooden ships. Very interesting!

  7. This is remarkable. I am a volunteer carpenter on an early 17th c Dutch ship recreation in Wilmington DE, the Kalmar Nyckel, and I just got through finishing a batch of 16 new blocks for the ship – I used a bandsaw instead of an axe! We built four mast tops – the big wheels in the carving – each a different size. They were copied from those pulled off the bottom of Stockholm harbor when the Vasa was raised. The originals are from 1628 and they are identical to those in the carving. You can see them at:

    A fascinating sight to navigate (so to speak) and you can find numerous shots of the tops on both the actual ship and the gorgeous model. The carving displays the tops viewed from above, something most would never see

  8. Thanks for the post peter, and thanks to Marijn for clarification of it location. One other interesting item to point out is the syringe style fire extinguisher on the top right. I just recently saw some ivory and wooden ones from the 18th century, so that is how i know what this is.


  9. I had the opportunity to see some ships blocks that were recovered from wrecks of Dutch East India Company ships off the West Australian coast. The block housing was pretty much as you would expect but the pulleys in them were junk – just slices of tree with a hole roughly in the middle, no sign of lathe work in the shaping, no groove for the rope, the shape looked to be just as it came from the tree. I wondered at the time if this was common in Dutch practice or someone was defrauding the Company, relying on the blocks being in storage as spare tackle in the hold and not being found out until half way around the world. I haven’t had the opportunity to look at the Mary Rose or Vasa blocks in person and photos are often not that clear on those sort of details.

  10. I love this. I wrote an article on wooden water pipes and pumps not so long ago. Have you read Walter rose the village carpenter? If not ill happily leaned you a copy as payback for the amount of reading you’ve provided me!

  11. It’s been over 4 years since this first was posted. Since then I have done a small slide show based on the carving and the Kalmar Nyckel, a copy of the early 17th c. Dutch-built ship that brought the first Swedish settlers to the new world. I hope you enjoy it.

    Ed M

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