Encyclopedia > Woodworking

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Woodworking is the process of building, making or carving something using wood.

Along with stone, mud, and animal parts, wood was certainly one of the first materials worked by primitive man. Indeed, the development of civilization was closely tied to the development of increasingly greater degrees of skill in working these materials.

Two ancient civilizations to use woodworking are the Egyptians and the Chinese. Woodworking is depicted in many ancient Egyptian drawings. There are also copies of ancient egyptian work, such as chairs, still existing. The metal used by the Egyptians was probably bronze or even straight copper, as ironworking was not developed until much later.

Similarly the progenitors of Chinese woodworking are considered to be Lu Ban and his wife Lady Yun. Lu Ban is said to have brought the plane, chalkline, and other tools to China. His teachings are supposedly left behind in the book Lu Ban Jing (manuscript of Lu Ban), although it was written 1500 years after his life. This book is filled largely with descriptions of dimensions to use for building various items, such as flower pots, tables, temples, etc. It also contains extensive instructions about Feng Shui, the ancient Chinese practice of geomancy. It mentions almost nothing of the intricate glue-less nailless joinery for which Chinese furniture was so famous.

Woodworking is now a general term covering a wide range of skills and techniques.

  • carpentry[?] - Originally a carpenter was a wagon maker but carpentry has come to mean the general working of wood. Sometimes used to cover all aspects of woodworking, at other times carpentry refers to the least-skilled level of woodworking and larger projects, such as house building.
  • joinery - The joining of two or more pieces of wood together, necessary in most woodworking projects.
  • cabinet making[?] - A craftsman who specializes in the making of fine furniture. Implies a very high level of skill in woodworking.
  • marquetry - A pattern made by inlaying different wood veneers; with different colours and different grains complex patterns are formed. Originally used to decorate furniture, it is now often used to produce pictures.
  • turning[?] - The art of turning a piece of wood on a lathe and shaping it by holding various cutting tools against it.
  • carving[?]
  • boat building[?]
  • wheelwright[?]
  • cooper[?] - A maker of casks and barrels.
  • bodger[?] - Now obselete, a wood-turner specializing making chair parts.

Some of these refer to special techniques such as marquetry or turning, while others refer to a specialized product such as the cooper or wheelwright.

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