Terms

Cabinetmaker

The term "cabinetmaker" emerged as more sophisticated methods of furniture building emerged in mid-17th century England and colonial America. The earliest American settlers brought deeply embedded woodworking traditions with them on their long voyages to the New World. They made good use of the abundance of timber that resulted as they reshaped the forested landscape. Colonists employed traditional English practices of furniture-making, techniques that had been passed down from master to apprentice since the Middle Ages. However, by the end of the 17th century, new techniques of furniture building began to emerge, allowing a lighter construction that encouraged greater height and more freedom of design than had before been possible. The old method of joining and pegging oak panels within frames that required craftsman to nail or butt heavy oak drawer sides to even heavier fronts was replaced by the creation of finely cut dovetails, making it possible to instead frame drawers and chests made of thinly sawed pine. A new term, "cabinetmaker," came into use in order to distinguish the craftsman practicing this new system from the old-fashioned joiner of wooden panels.

Drawn from

Elizabeth Bidwell Bates and Jonathan L. Fairbanks, American Furniture: 1620 to the Present, (Richard Marek Publishers: New York, 1981).