One Trade To Rule Them All

Among the 12,461 noteworthy things I was reminded of when undertaking our final review of Roubo on Furniture Making this week, in preparation for its release later this autumn from Lost Art Press:

It would be easy to convince oneself of what I am advancing here, if one wishes to note that the Art of Joinery is, without question, the most extensive of the mechanical Arts, for both the different types of Joinery and the multitude of works belonging to each type of Joinery, which requires a quantity of knowledge distinct one from the other. Such that the Art of Joinery can and should even be regarded as six Arts under the same name, but all different from each other. Namely, the Art of Building Carpentry, which is quite considerable, the Art of Carriage Woodworking; the Art of Furniture Making, which is separated in two distinct classes one from the other, the Art of Cabinetry, which embraces not only the knowledge of choice and use of wood, but also that of different metals and other substances both mineral and vegetable, and the use even of turning and filing; the Art of Trelliswork or Garden Woodworking, which is still another class apart, without counting the Art of Drawing, necessary for various sorts of Joinery, the detail of which has been made the object of more than half of the second Part of this Work. This observation is altogether natural – it is the only Art that, under the same name, [that] has rapport with [connection to] so many different objects. With the exception of Carpentry, the Art of Joinery embraces all which has to do with the use of wood, instead of those Arts that have for its object the use of metals, taking different names, although using the same material. Because, without speaking of the use of Mines and iron Forges, the Workers which use this metal, are known under different names, like the Blacksmiths of two types, the Locksmiths also of two types, the Maker of Edge-Tools, the Tinsmiths, the Cutlers, the Nailsmiths, and even the Clockmakers, those who make mathematical Instruments, and a number of others who do completely separate Arts, distinct one from the others. Their their description, if they be united in a single and same Art, would contain more than 10 to 12 volumes, assuming that they are treated according to the intentions of the Royal Academy of Sciences, that is to say, with the precision and all the appropriate extent for each of them.


J.A. Roubo, l’Art du Menuisier, page 760 footnote.