Saturday, January 2, 1971

Joiners and Cabinetmakers

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In the middle of the XVIIth century, the old joiners guild welcomed into its midst a new category of craftsmen, the cabinetmakers. From then on, and until the abolition of guilds in 1791, a very clear distinction was made between the two trades, which were not to be confused, although they were subject to the same regulations. 
The joiners worked on solid wood. They cut it, shaped it and assembled it to make up a frame that would remain exposed. They could possibly execute the sculpted decoration, although in principle, this phae, if it was important, had to be entrusted to a sculptor. Brackets, mirror frames and generally speaking all sculpted or molded solid wood furniture was produced in the joiners’ workshops. 
The cabinetmakers practiced veneering. They completely concealed the frames of furniture by applying, over the entire surface, thin sheets of wood or other materials. The first furniture made using this technique was veneered with ebony from which the name given to these craftsmen—“ébéniste” in French—comes. Commodes, corner cupboards, secretaires, desks and other furniture covered in tortoiseshell, wood veneer, marquetry, lacquer, varnish and porcelain were the domain of the cabinetmaker. 
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Le Meuble Français et Européen du Moyen Age à nos jours. Pierre Kjellberg