The Masonic Trowel

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In the lectures of the early part of the eighteenth century the Immovable Jewels of the Lodge are said to be "the Tarsel Board, Rough Asmar, and Broached Thurnel"; and in describing their uses it is taught that "the Rough Ashlar is for the Fellow Crafts to try their jewels on, and the Broached Thurnel for the Entered Apprentices to learn to work upon."
Much difficuity has been met with in discovering what the Broached Thurnel really was. Doctor Oliver, most probably deceived by the use to which it was assigned, says in his Dictionary of Symbolic Masonry that it was subsequently called the ' Rough Asmar. This is evidentiy incorrect, because a distinction is made in the original lecture between it and the Rough Asmar, the former being for the Apprentices and the latter for the Fellow Crafts. Krause (Kunsturkenden,1, 73), has translated it by Drehbank, which means a tuminglathe, an implement not used by Operative Freemasons. Now what is the real meaning of the word? If we inspect an old tracing board of the Apprentice's Degree of the date when the Broached Thurnel was in use, we shall find depicted on it three symbols, two of which will at once be recognized as the Tarsel, or Trestle Board, and the Rough Ashlar, just as we have them at the present day; while the third symbol will be that depicted in the margin, namely, a cubical stone with a pyramidal apex.
This is the Broached Thurnel. It is the symbol which is still to be found, with preciselyy the same form, in all French tracing boards, under the name of the pierre cubique, or cubical stone, and which has been replaced in English and American tracing boards and rituals by the Perfect Ashlar.
For the derivation of the words, we must go to old and now almost obsolete terms of architecture. On inspection, it will at once be seen that the Broached Thurnel has the form of a little square turret with a spire springing from it. Now, broach, or broche, says Parker in the Glossary of Terms in Architecture (page 97), is "an old English term for a spire, still in use in some parts of the country, as in Leicestershire, where it is said to denote a spire springing from the tower without any intervening parapet. Thurnel is from the old French tournelle, a turret or little tower.
The Broached Thurnel, then, was the Spired Turret. lt was a model on which apprentices might learn the principles of their art, because it presented to them, in its various outlines, the forms of the square and the triangle, the cube and the pyramid."
Brother Hawkins had somewhat different conclusions about the matter and added the following comments :
In Ars Quatuor Coronatorum (xii, 205), Brother G. W. Speth quotes from the Imperial Dictionary: "Broach, in Scotland, a term among masons, signifying to rough hew. Broached Work, in Scotland, a term among masons, signifying work or stones that are rough-hewn, and thus distinguished from Ashlar or polished work. Broaching-Thurmal, Thurmer, Turner, names given to the chisels by which broached work is executed."
And therefore Brother Speth suggests that the Broached Thurnel was really a chisel for the Entered Apprentices to learn to work with.
We find that the new English Dictionary explains Broached as a term used "of stone; chiselled with a broach," or narrow-pointed chisel used by Freemasons; but Brother Hawkins points out that this still leaves it uncermin what a "Thurnel" is.
Brother Clegg has had the advantage of actually working with broaching tools and therefore ought to know something about broached work. The word broach in the industries is usually applied to the operation of shaping or forming some part by special tools made to produce some particular shape or design. A triangular hole in a piece of metal or any other material can for example be finislied to a considerable degree of accuracy by simply forcing the cutting tool through it as a final operation. This is called broaching and the tools for the purpose are known as broaches. A tool that is used to smooth out, a small opening by being rotated within it is often called a broach and, as will be seen, the idea is that the broach is used to form a special shape. These special shapes therefore are known as work which is broached and this agrees very closely with the understanding that underlies each of the comments made above.
The exact meaning of Thurnel or Thurmal is not any too clear but has evidently been applied to the instrument as well as the product of its work. Brother Charles E. Funk of the Editorial Department of the Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary of the English Language has very kindly read the above article and favors us with the following comments:
I have gone through fifteen or more dictionaries from 1643 up to Murray's New English Dictionary, including several dialectical dictionaries and one on archaisms. None of them record any such spelling as thurnel, thurmal, nor thurmer.
Broach or broche, broch, broache, broych, brooch, brotch - are not so obscure. Five centuries and more of usage still find the early senses preserved. But even so, ambiguity is not avoided in attempting to determine the expression broached thurnel, for broach may refer either
(1) to the mason's tool, a narrow pointed chisel by which he furrowed the surface of stone, as in the quotation of 1703, "to broych or broach, as Masons an Atchler or ashlar when with the small point of their ax (?) they make it full of little pits or small holes;" also that of 1544, " In hewinge, brochinge, and scaplyn of stone for the chapell ;'' or
(2) to the name of the spire itself, a current form in England today which dates from 1501, " For trassying & makyn moldes to the brooch."
With this second and still current usage of broach, then, and assuming that thumel is a variant spelling of tournelle, as it might well have been, we can derive a thoroughly satisfactory explanation of the expression and one which also agrees with the old illustrations, a spired turret. Thia view may be further supported wheil we recall the old German form Thurm or tower.
Murray lends further support to this view in his record of the variants of tournelle, which appeared variously from 1400 to the middle of the seventeenth century as tornel, turnelle, tornelle, toumel, tornil, and tournell.
A1l of this may lend weight to the theory as given by Mackey. But if this theory ia accepted, the mystery is still unsolved, for by which logic would the symbol of Fellow Craft be the Rough Ashlar and that of the Apprentice be such a highly finished work as the Spired Turrett One would expect a reversal of such symbolism at the least.
It seems, therefore, that the explanation as a spired turret is inappropriate---one would not expect an apprentice " to learn to work upon" such a structure. We are forced, then, to consider the first definition of broach and to do some more or less etymological guesswork with thurnel, which I am offering as a possible clue-I can not locate the missing link to make it conclusive, for we have no reference books covering the subject of stone-dressing tools on our shelves. Dialectically th was occasionally substituted for f.
We have such instances as thane for fane, thetch for fetch, and thurrow for furraw, and others. I would expect, therefore, to find some dressing tool, no longer employed, perhaps, or now under another name, which was called a furnel, fournel, fornel, or even firnel, perhaps with an m in place of the n. It may be that the firming-chisel is the present type. This tool would be a tapered handtool, set in a flat head to receive blows from a hammer, and would be used for rough dressing. Possibly it might be the former which was thus described in 1688 :
" The second is termed a Former, it is a Chissel used before the Paring Chissel in all works.... The Clenser, or Former, is a broad ended Iron Plate, or Old-Cold?- Chessel with a broad bottom, set in an Handle; with which Tool they smooth and make even the Stone after it is cut into that form and Order, as the Work-man will have it."
Again it may have been a development from the formall referred to by Bossewell in 1572 :
" A Sledge or a Hammer, of some called a formall,'' ( fore-mall, later called a forehammer).
A broached formall would then have been a tool, perhaps a hammer head, shaped something like the blacksmith's set hammer, with one broad flat face, the other tapering to a point. The pointed end would be used for broaching, and the flat end for hammerfinishing. Note that both these descriptions might well refer to the ax in the quotation of 1703.
And further, altho the members of the family give Fourneaux or Fournivalle as the original form of the name. I offer the conjecture that the name Furnald, Fernald may have had its original from the occupational term furnel (thurnel).

In the latter part of Brother Funk's consideration of this matter he had in mind the name of James C.Femald, who was editorially connected with his company and a distinguished author.

Among the Hebrews, columns, or piliars, were used metaphorically to signify princes or nobles, as if they were the pillars of a state. Thus (in Psalm xi, 3), the passage, reading in our translation, "If the foundations be destroyed what can the righteous do?" is, in the original, "when the columns are overthrown," that is, when the firm supporters of what is right and good have perished.
So the passage in Isaiah (xix, 10), should read: "her (Egypt's) columns are broken down," that is, the nobles of her state.
In Freemasonry, the broken column is, as Master Freemasons well know, the emblem of the fall of one of the chief supporters of the Craft. The use of the column or pillars as a monument erected over a tomb was a very ancient custom, and was a very significant symbol of the character and spirit of the person interred. It is accredited to Jeremy L. Cross that he first introduced the Broken Column into the ceremonies, but this may not be true (see Monument).

Born at Baltimore, Maryland, August, 1823, died at Denver, Colorado, January 9, 1903. Admitted to the bar in Vandalia, Illinois, 1853. Representative to Congress from 1865 to 1869 from that State-went to Colorado in 1870 and in 1879 elected a member of the Legislature and in 1881 appointed Commissioner to revise the 1aws of the State.
Made a Freemason at Vandalia in 1854 and chosen Grand Master in 1864. Served as Grand Orator of the Grand Lodge of Colorado in 1874, and was elected Honorary Grand Master of that Body in 1889 in consideration of his distinguished services to the Craft. He was the originator of what has been styled a new branch of Freemasonry, known as the Free and Accepted Architects, the object of which was to restore and preserve the lost work of the ancient Craft. At one time there were five Lodges of Architects in the United States, and also a Grand Lodge.
The instruction embodied in the Degrees was in no sense an innovation, but designed to impart to students of the Craft a knowledge of Masonic symbolism not otherwise obtainable. His famous book entitled Restorations of Masonic Geometry and Symbolry, being a dissertation on the lost knowledge of the Lodge, was begun in 1884 and on it he worked for sixteen hours a day for six years and two months.
One Chapter, devoted to the floors of the three Lodges, occupied two years and two months in its preparation, while the book was read and re-read fourteen times for correction and revision.

The term which Freemasons apply to each other. Freemasons are Brethren, not only by common participation of the human nature, but as professing the same faith; as being jointly engaged in the same labors, and as being united by a mutual covenant or tie, whence they are also emphatically called Brethren of the Mystic Tie (see Companion and Mystic Tie).

When our Savior designated his disciples as his Brethren, he implied that there was a close bond of union existing between them, which idea was subsequently carried out by Saint Peter in his direction to "Love the Brotherhood."
Hence the early Christians designated themselves as a brotherhood, a relationship unknown to the Gentile religions; and the ecclesiastica1 and other confraternities of the Middle Ages assumed the same title to designate any association of men engaged in the same common object, governed by the same rules, and united by an identical interest. The association or Fraternity of Freemasons is in this sense called a brotherhood.

Admission to the Craft. Cunningham's Diary, the diary and general expenditure book of William Cunningham of Craigends, edited by the Reverend James Dodd, D.D., 1887, and published by the Scottish Historical Society., has the following entries :
June 17, 1676.
To my mai1 to pay his trave1ing. . . . . . . . . 01 2 0
June 26, 1677.
To Andrew Greg his servant in part of
his fee. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... . . . . . 02 0 0
To him to pay his Brothering with. . . . . . . . 01 4 0
Glossary at end of book explains that Brothering means admission to the Craft Fellowship.

See Kiss, Fraternal.

At a very early period in the course of his initiation, a candidate for the mysteries of Freemasonry is informed that the great principles of the Order are Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. These virtues are illustrated, and their practise recommended to the aspirant, at every step of his progress; and the instruction, though continually varied in its mode, is so constantly repeated, as infallibly to impress upon his mind their absolute necessity in the constitution of a good Freemason.
Brotherly Love might very well be supposed to be an ingredient in the organstion of a society so peculiarly constituted as that of Freemasonry. But the Brotherly Love which we inculcate is not a mere abstraction, nor is its character left to any general and careless understanding of the candidate, who might be disposed to give much or little of it to his Brethren, according to the peculiar constitution of his own mind, or the extent of his own generous or selfish feelings. It is, on the contrary, closely defined; its object plainly denoted; and the very mode and manner of its practise detalled in words, and illustrated by symbols, so as to give neither cause for error nor apology for indifference.
Every Freemason is acquainted with the Five Points of Fellowship-he knows their symbolic meaning-he can never forget the interesting incidents that accompanied their explanation; and while he has this knowledge, and retains this remembrance, he can be at no loss to understand what are his duties, and what must be his conduct, in relation to the principle of Brotherly Love (see Points of Fellowship).

See Bridge Builders of the Middle Ages.

See Rosicrucianism.

See Latin Lodge.

In 1798, John Browne published, in London, a work entitled The Master Key through all the Degrees of a Freemason's Lodge, to which is added, Eullogiums and Illustrations upon Freemasonry. In 1802, he published a second edition under the titie of Browne's Masonic Master Key through the three degrees, by way of polyglot. Under the sanction of the Craft in general, containing the exact mode of working, initiation, passing and raising to the sublime Degree of a Master. Also, the several duties of the Master, officers, and Brethren while in the Lodge, with every requisite to render the accomplished Mason an explanation of all the hieroglyphics.
The whole interspersed with illustrations on Theology, Astronomy, Architecture, Arts, Sciences, &, many of which are by the editor. Browne had been, he says, the Past Master of six Lodges, and wrote his work not as an offensive exposition, but as a means of giving Freemasons a knowledge of the ritual. It is considered to be a very complete representation of the monitorial Prestonian lectures, and as such was incorporated by Krause in his Drei altesten Kunsturkuenden.
The work by Browne is printed in a very complicated cipher, the key to which, and without which the book is wholly unintelligible, was, by way of caution, delivered only personally and to none but those who had reached the Third Degree. The explanation of this "mystical key," as Browne calls it, is as follows:
The word Browne supplies the vowels, thus:
br o w n e.
a e i o u y
These six vowels in turn represent six letters, thus:
a e i o u y.
k c o l n u

Initial capitals are of no value, and supernumerary letters are often inserted. The words are kept separate, but the letters of one word are often divided between two or three. Much therefore is left to the shrewdness of the decipherer. The initial sentence of the work may be adduced as a specimen: Ubs Rplrbsrt wbss ostm ronwprn Pongth Mrlwdgr, which is thus deciphered: Please to assist me in opening the Lodge. The work is now exceedingly rare.

See Vielle Bru, Rite of.

See Robert I, also Royal Order of Scotland.

The introduction of Freemasonry into Scotland has been attributed by some writers to Robert, King of Scotland, commonly called Robert Bruce, who is said to have established in 1314 the Order of Herodom, for the reception of those Knights Templar who had taken refuge in his dominions from the persecutions of the Pope and the King of France. Thory (Acta Latomorum,1, 6), copies the following from a manuscript in the library of the Mother Lodge of the Philosophical Rite:
"Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, under the name of Robert the First, created, on the 24th lune, 1314, after the battle of Bannockburn, the Order of Saint Andrew of the Thistle, to which has been since united that of Herodom (H-D-M) for the sake of the Scotch Masons, who composed a part of the thirty thousand men with whom he had conquered an army of a hundred thousand Englishmen. He reserved, in perpetuity, to himself and his successors, the title of Grand Master. He founded the Royal Grand Lodge of the Order of H-D-M at Kilwinning, and died, full of glory and honours, the 9th of July, 1329."
Doctor Oliver (Landmarks,11, 13), referring to the abolition of the Templar Order in England, when the Knights were compelled to enter the Preceptories of the Knights of Saint John, as dependents, says:
"In Scotland, Edward, who had overrun the country at the time, endeavoured to pursue the same course; but, on summoning the Knights to appear, only two, Wa1ter de Clifton, the Grand Preceptor, and another, came forward. On their examination, they confessed that all the rest had fled; and as Bruce was advancing with his army to meet Edward, nothing further was done.
The Templars, being debarred from taking refuge either in England or Ireland, had no altemative but to join Bruce, and give their active support to his cause. Thus, after the battle of Bannockburn, in 1314, Bruce granted a charter of lands to Walter de Clifton, as Grand Master of the Templars, for the assistance which they rendered on that occasion. Hence the Royal Order of H-R-D-M was frequently practised under the name of Templary."
Lawrie, or the author of Lawrie's History of Freemasonry, who is excellent authority for Scottish Freemasonry, does not appear, however, to give any credit to the narrative. Whatever Bruce may have done for the advanced Degrees, there is no doubt that Ancient Craft Freemasonry was introduced into Scotland at an earlier period. But it cannot be denied that Bruce was one of the patrons and encouragers of Scottish Freemasonry.

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