In preparing this work, I think it
unnecessary to waste time and space in publishing a preface,
which would at least occupy from three to five pages, and which
at best, would be of little service to my readers; so I will
content myself, and perhaps serve my readers better by inserting
in these remarks the gist of what would be expected to appear in
a preface, along with other material that may be both
interesting and useful.
In these days, specialization in
"Furniture-making" has in a great measure robbed the trade of
many of its charms, as well as its claims to the dignified
position it once held.
In the "good old times" every man
who could hold up his head and say truthfully "I am a
CABINETMAKER" meant that he had given long years of
apprenticeship to every branch and every detail of the business.
His assertion, when interpreted,
meant "that he could take timber, saw it, plane it, mould it,
glue it, veneer it, join it, carve it, finish it, and upholster
it, all by hand."
It meant a full knowledge of
everything connected with the manufacture from the entrance to
the yard and to that of the wareroom. What might be expected of such workmen,
in the way of completeness and thoroughness, could be had for
the hiring. Their experience was indelibly stamped upon their
Invention has disarranged this most
certainly. The labor-saving machinery of later years has
dispensed with something of the old-time necessity.
saws, jig and band saws, stickers, planers, jointers, carvers,
and the many contrivances for economizing time, have made those
long terms of apprenticeship in a measure, unnecessary, and
to-day men are not CABINET-MAKERS in the sense we have referred
to, but they are competent to do either circular-sawing,
band-sawing, moulding, or planing, etc., alone, and but little
This subdivision of labor has been
the outgrowth of the advance of invention. Often you will have
among your applicants for work, men who belong to both classes
representatives of the "old school" as it were, and fledglings
who, having rubbed furniture three months in some manufactory,
and consider themselves fit subjects for a diploma.
It will be found to be advantageous
to mix these two elements. Each has claims which are worthy of
consideration. The former class, from having been drilled so
faithfully in every department of the work; although workmen of
this class are apt to be wedded a little too firmly to the
methods in use when they were apprentices. Workmen of the latter
kind are progressive, and restless under restraint; perhaps a
little too much so sometimes. But the two average well, and the
conservatism of the one holds in check the radicalism of the
The bench hands, bear in mind, must
be men of experience, with this quality more or less extended as
the quality of the work may require. In cases where most of the
work is machine work, the manufacturer will readily perceive
that he can, with advantage to himself, engage the services of a
class of men whose knowledge is confined exclusively to the
machine they pledge themselves to run. Migratory workmen are a
curse to themselves and the manufacturer. They are the best
examples of the saying: "A rolling stone gathers no moss."