In the days before video cameras, no one bothered to record what happened on the jobsite. The attitude was: hey, it’s just a bunch of tradesmen out there building things – who cares about that? Well, I do, and I bet you do too. If you are into your trade, or just enjoy tools and construction, then you’ll want to watch this 1940 vocational film, which includes rare footage of construction tradesmen at work.

Highlights include shots of carpenters using early wormdrive saws (0:30), teaming up to cut and install bridging (1:35), and installing cabinets (3:50). About half-way through, the action shifts from the jobsite to the shop where there are shots of millworkers assembling doors and windows (4:30), fabricating housed-stringer stairs (5:00), and making patterns for casting metal (7:05).

I could go on and on, but why listen to me? Take 10 minutes out of your life and see what construction was like in Grandpa’s or Great-Grandpa’s time. You won’t be disappointed.

Archived Comments

October 17, 2012

Thoroughly enjoyed the film. Took me back to the days when I first found my fathers hand tools in the basement and started to experiment with them. Then on to my days in shop class in high school at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute where my love of tools was enforced. Thanks for sharing this wonderful archive. Rich.

Posted By: rfluczak@comcast.net | Time: 12:22:28.263 PM

October 18, 2012

I noticed that all the GUYS were wearing 'Farmer Browns' and not a single pair of sneakers (tennis shoes or 'tennies') were to be seen. Back in the post-WWII when I first set foot on a job site conditions were still very similar. And we didn't need OSHA as the old timers made sure we worked safely (guess they wanted the go-fers uninjured so the journeymen didn't have to do the grunt work themselves). Thanks for the memories.

Posted By: seelite | Time: 3:26:47.293 AM

October 19, 2012

Wow, watching that film really makes you appreciate true craftsmanship! It seems like way back when, true craftsmanship was appreciated and hard work was expected. Now that we have machines and tools, it in some way takes away the importance of quality craftsmanship. It definitely still exists (like with the finish carpenter) but the computer is oh so important. Blah. Well guess what. We can live without computers, but we all need people to build places to live!

Posted By: lan1870 | Time: 11:03:20.637 PM

October 26, 2012

That was great! Surprised twice in the first few minutes: circular saw & plywood. In 1940! I'm constantly amazed at how labor-intensive building used to be (not a cakewalk now, either). Hand nailing hardwood floors & floor decking! Thanks for the video!

Posted By: sencon7777 | Time: 10:32:37.73 PM