After getting all excited about the announcement this week of the MIT team developing a handheld CNC router, I ran across a wonderfully nostalgic reflection on mid-20th century low-tech woodworking. This video from the 1940s, apparently done for a project on career choice education, is a great portrait of how woodworking was done around the time of World War II. It covers both the housing industry and precision pattern making for metal casting.
Does anybody use wooden patterns for casting anymore? I see old wooden casting patterns show up at the flea market from time to time. They are fascinating artifacts. Once I saw a whole booth filled with patterns that were apparently for a steam locomotive. Now, I suspect, they just program a 3-D printer to create what they need.