I am writing a novel set in 1850s Nevada. I would like to have the papa make his son a wooden train. Could he do this with a hand saw? What other hand tools would he need?

  • 2
    You couldn't do all of the work with just a saw, no, although you could cut a great deal of the basic shapes with only one saw. But what tools the father might have had on hand to use could vary quite a bit depending on his station in life — shopkeeper might have only a jack knife or penknife while a farmer would be very likely to have a few more tools because they'd have been used to build part or all of their home, some of the furniture and possibly some of their farming equipment. If necessary a small knife could do the whole thing, using whittling techniques.
    – Graphus
    Jul 30 '17 at 17:16
  • My take: He might just start with a round log of firewood (felled by axe and cut to length by axe or saw the previous spring) and would probably use a hatchet to roughly shape the block(s) of wood, then use his pocket or hunting knife to whittle it to the final shape. Moving wheels wouldn't be too difficult: he'd bore holes for the axles with a hand drill, whittle axles out of thin branches, and saw cross-sections from a thin log of firewood for the wheels. Details like headlamps and windows might be painted on.
    – workerjoe
    Aug 1 '17 at 15:52
  • Thank you all for your help. Your answers are just what I need.
    – user3999
    Aug 2 '17 at 17:07

Back then a knife, plane and scrapper did a lot of the craft work in a non industrial setting.


A saw. hoof file for the horse, Or rasp. file, drill bit home made, bit handle, spoke shave, knife, mall home made,[type of hammer] chisle's, These would all be common tools to have. All would work on soft wood.

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