Hunter KightAP Literature11/18/113rd Carpentry Carpentry can prove to be one of the most useful skills to know, not only for theaverage person but also for many different careers. From the beginning of humanexistence people have been skilled in the art and occupation of carpentry, from the crudeworking of cave men, to the skilled finishers of today. As history has evolved, the art ofcarpentry has also, new tools have been made which have really helped to fine tune woodworking and its intricacy. One of the oldest skills known to man, carpentry has beenaround for many centuries, creating unions more recently, and evolving tools to help inthe skill. Although wood doesn’t last forever there is evidence that carpentry has beenaround as long as humans have had tools to shape it. Several studies and researchersshowed that early Europeans were building rectangular timber houses more than 100 feetlong (Carpentry Career). Carpentry long ago wasn’t confined just to Europe. There is alsoevidence of wood and stone structures from ancient Greece (Burgess, Steve). In Japanthere are structures that are still standing that were built of wood and stone back in the 7thcentury, while not perfectly preserved these structures show how far carpentry datesback. When Europeans traveled to the new world they brought their skills and tools withthem, all of the buildings created in the colonies were the work of carpenters. As townsbecame organized in the American colonies guilds were established (Alter Eagle). The
carpenters of the new world mainly built houses rather than small luxury items. Withsurvival one of the main goals in the new world it was important for new tough homes tobe built as soon as possible. The main business of the colonial carpenter was to cut andjoin timber and board into sturdy wooden homes and shops (Colonial Williamsburg). Atthe time this was one of the most important jobs in the colony, without the use of askilled wood worker colonies wouldn’t have been built so rapidly and Europeans wouldhave had an even more difficult time settling in the new world. Carpentry definitely isn’t a relaxing easy job. It demands lots of labor, especiallywhen building homes, and the ability to be very diligent when working on a smallintraquet structure. Prolonged standing, climbing, bending, and kneeling often arenecessary (Infoplease). A lot of carpenters will wear knee or elbow pads, depending onthe job, to crawl under spaces to fix or make something. Depending on the location of thejob they can be required to wear hard hats as well, especially at big construction sites.The carpenter is a craftsman who plies his trade indoors and out – rain or shine, summeror winter – and reaps the benefits of operating under adverse and perfect conditions(Burgess, Steve). Working in the hot or cold outside for many hours are all part of thejob, yet carpenters may also have the luxury of working in an air conditioned shop theentire day. This is how carpentry can be hard or easy, fun or miserable, yet alwaysadverse and the carpenter must always be able to adapt to their conditions. A rough carpenter is an example of a type of carpenter who would be working outin the elements most of the time. They are skilled in quickly erecting skeletal structuresof building, including beams, rafters, and other large scale work (Really GoodCarpenters). While this carpenter would work outside in building the frame of a new
house a finishing carpenter would come in after and do the fine details of the inside of thestructure, in other words they are complete opposites. He or she might be skilled atmaking items like fine furniture, inlays, architectural models, or finely crafted woodinstruments (Really Good Carpenters). These two types of carpenters show how similar,yet radically different the job can be. This is why carpenters normally are broad in theirexperience with wood, being able to do fine detail and rough framing. Depending on thetype of work and the employer, carpenters may specialize in one or two activities or maybe required to know how to perform many different tasks (College Grad). A carpenter,while may be specialized in a particular type of work, will always have a generalunderstanding of almost every form of the skill. This broad set of skills is learned overmany years during and apprenticeship, where someone wishing to learn wood is taughteverything they need to know. An apprentice ship is one of the most important ways to learn the art of carpentry.Almost every person who is interested in a career will go through a type of schooling oran apprenticeship from a master carpenter. Back in the twelfth century carpentry guildswere beginning to become popular. There were three kinds of members in guilds, themasters, a journeyman, and the apprentice. The master was a carpenter with muchexperience and knowledge that takes an apprentice and trains them (Carpenter Career).The apprentice would normally live with the master and be fed and clothed but would notearn payment for their work. After about five to nine years of learning the apprenticewould graduate to a journeyman who could then earn payment on their own and worktoward becoming a master. Highly- trained carpenters are able to switch from one type ofbuilding to another and work on a variety of jobs (Job Description). It would often take
many years for that journeyman to be trusted enough to be considered a master. All thewhile they were learning more and more skills to help them become more adverse in theirtrade. While an apprenticeship may not be the same in this day and age, most people stilllearn from a master or at least a school of carpentry. As history progressed and carpenters learned different techniques and styles, theirtools progressed as well. Until man discovered metalworking, the tools we had to workwith were primarily wood and stone (Smathers, Michael). This of coarse was during theStone Age, when instead of nails wooden pegs and stones were used to hold structurestogether. The holes which the pegs were inserted were dug out by a primitive form of anauger made of stone, paintings show this is the technique used on Noah’s ark. After theadvance of metal working carpenters were able to make higher quality tools, which inturn produced higher quality work. It was soon said that with a few simple tools acarpenter could do most work. Using the three primary tools of carpentry – the hatchet,saw, and plane – the carpenter can frame, floor, roof – and build a structure of wood(Burgess, Steve). It is commonly thought that the nail is a relatively recent inventionwhich hadn’t evolved with the art of carpentry, this however is wrong. Nails have alsobeen around since the early days of metal working, helping to hold newly built woodenstructures. The Romans were especially thorough with making nails, although they maynot look anything like the ones that are used today. At one fort, nearly 7 tons of nailswere left behind to be found in archeological expeditions (Smathers, Michael). Whilethese nails may be radically different from the ones used today, it still shows that thepeople had come up with the general concept and were working to perfect their trade.
Later in history carpentry became more high tech, with the invention of electric and airpowered tools the art really leapt forward with the invention of handy tools like thepneumatic nail guns, electric drills and power saws, carpenters were able to work evenmore efficiently (Carpentry). These tools are some of the most common tools used bycarpenters in the 20th century. While all carpenters will use the common nail and saw,most, depending on the type of job will now use these pneumatic nail guns and powersaws. These advancements really show how the art of carpentry has innovated over theyears. Carpentry is a job of many skills, from a simple frame all the way to a miniaturemodel master piece; a true master will have the knowledge to do all of these tasks. Beingone of the oldest forms of work carpentry has had many centuries to transform andbecome even better. Along with the skills becoming more fine tuned over the years thetools used in the art of carpentry have improved greatly as well, all the way from a simplewooden hammer to an electric powered band saw. The time and effort a person takeswhen learning this skill, from apprenticeship, to journeyman, to master, really shows theheart and effort people put into learning this ancient tradition. With many years to comeand many inventions in the horizon carpentry is sure to evolve and become even moreamazing and beautiful occupation.