Woodworking at Jones Park’s Redbud Hill Homestead

Maintaining a replica 18th-century homestead isn’t always easy. Volunteers must learn the skills of the past to ensure the homestead appears as authentic as possible.

Thankfully, Jones Park has a team of skilled woodworkers who use a mixture of modern and antique tools for repairing these structures.

Because many 18th-century buildings were built entirely of wood, woodworking is one of the most critical skills a Jones Park volunteer can contribute.

Woodworking volunteers recently tested their skills when they built a wattle fence around the homestead vegetable garden. Dating back at least 6,000 years, wattle fences do not require a hammer and nails. Early Americans instead wove the materials together to create a durable yet flexible structure to contain farm animals or keep out wildlife.

When collecting weaving materials, volunteers used handsaws and loppers to cut down yaupon holly (an aggressive understory shrub native to Texas) and machetes to delimb the trees. They then wove the trees through the fence posts in the same way that one would make a basket – just on a larger scale.

The vegetable garden fence is one of many woodworking projects volunteers helped build. Doug Ebeling, a longtime homestead volunteer, replaced the woodshop doorframe in 2018. He also helped rebuild the smokehouse door that year. Both projects were completed with wood only and required no metal.

Workers complete many of these projects using tools from the Redbud Hill Homestead’s woodshop. The shop showcases 19th-century tools, including a froe for splitting logs into roofing shingles, a drawknife for shaving wood pieces into tool handles, and a hand crank drill press to drill holes in wood for making furniture.

The woodshop also houses items donated by volunteers. Glenn Camp, a longtime volunteer, made and donated a woodworking bench, saw-sharpening table, a drill press, and many other tools. His dedication to Jones Park and his love of history is evident in what he offers the woodshop.

The woodshop in winter is one of the warmest buildings on the homestead. An antique wood stove sits at the back of the shop and creates an inviting atmosphere for visitors. When participating in historical woodworking activities, children and adults of all ages enjoy using antique hand drills and a spring pole lathe, a woodturning device made with rope and a pole. The activities illustrate how centuries-old woodworking techniques are still valuable for creating intricate designs.

Join the homestead volunteers every second Saturday of the month from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. to learn more about the woodshop and our great Texas history.

 

Historical Program Coordinator
Katrina Yordy

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