The history of carpentry harkens back to the origins of hand tools and the term “carpenter” is the English rendering of an Old French word “carpentier”, which in turn, was derived from the ancient Latin “carpentrius”, or “maker of a carriage”.
Universally, a carpenter is considered a person who is skilled in constructing objects and buildings with wood. Carpenters have an expert knowledge of the materials they use, and are extremely adept with their hand tools.
The first carpenters were the inventors and users of wood working tools. The necessity to construct wood-based structures for homes gave birth to the carpenter’s profession.
Wood does not stand the test of time very well, but there are existing structures from 7th Century Japan that were built by Japanese carpenters. There is also evidence of stone and wood structures from ancient Greece.
Carpentry evolved as tools evolved, with skills becoming more fine-tuned and the carpenter becoming a trade of renown. Many historical and contemporary carpenters are considered artisans, surpassing functional skill levels to create wood works of unique beauty.
As the history of carpentry unfolded, it found carpenters coming together in 1271 to form an organization bound by their common profession. Eventually, a carpenters union was formed in 1881. In later years, it became an apolitical voice in supporting legislation to establish the 8-hour workday.
Throughout the development of cultures around the world, carpenters have been an essential factor in the success or failure of each budding community. Learning through experience, carpenters historically took on an apprentice, either a son or other young man, to pass on their knowledge of carpentry.
history of carpentry
is created by unbroken chains of transferred knowledge and experience. The carpentry trade grew under this tradition of apprenticeship and eventual advancement to journeyman status.
Essential skills set the carpenter apart from other trades. Using the three primary tools of carpentry - the hatchet, saw, and plane – the carpenter can frame, floor, roof – and build a structure of wood.
The carpenter is a craftsman who plies his trade indoors and out – rain or shine, summer or winter – and reaps the benefits of operating under adverse and perfect conditions. Flexible, quick minded, nimble with tools, possessing an organic knowledge of wood and a sculptor’s eye, carpenters have changed little since their beginnings.
Technology may add precision or speed to certain carpentry tasks, but the carpenter’s expertise is still locked to the basics of building and shaping wood.
Steve Burgess - journeyman carpenter
1118 McBriar Ave
Victoria, BC V8X 3M6