Check out this bit of original framing from the ceiling of the nursery renovation project:
There are at least a dozen nails in that framing intersection and the dimples in the lumber make it clear that they were driven by hand.
Now consider how many hundreds of framing joints there are in the house, how many nails are in each of those, and how many hammer strokes it took to drive each of those nails. Heck, even the 1920s sheetrock I removed from this room was installed with well-over a hundred hand-driven nails per 4′ x 8′ sheet. That’s a whole lotta hammer swings.
I’m sure the workers who built my house would have happily put down their hammers for the ease and speed of a pneumatic nail gun or a lithium-ion cordless screwdriver. Still, you’ve got to respect the physical strength, endurance, efficiency and technique it took to frame and finish a house by hand.
Until the day I wake up with Popeye forearms (no anchor tatoos, please), I’ll be happy to seize any technological advantage I can in my fixer-upper projects. I’m not cut enough for the good ol’ days.