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L. & I. J. White


Masters' Library


The Practical Cabinet Maker and Furniture Designer's Assistant by Frederick T. Hodgson, 1910



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 work.

Invention has disarranged this most certainly. The labor-saving machinery of later years has dispensed with something of the old-time necessity.


Circular 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 else.

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 other.

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."

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