The history of woodworking dates back to the dawn of man. The first tools from early people were made from stone, bone, antlers and other materials.
As time went on, they found ways to make more sophisticated tools, but their primary focus remained on shaping wood into valuable objects such as utensils. Over hundreds of years, this craft evolved into something much more complex than its origins suggest.
The art of woodworking began as early as the ancient Egyptians. Even then, people were fascinated by the beauty and versatility of wood. Over the years, this fascination has only grown, and woodworking has become a staple in many homes and businesses.
There are many different types of woodworking, each with its own unique set of skills and techniques. Some popular forms include cabinetry, furniture making, woodturning and carpentry.
Ancient Civilizations That Used Woodworking
- Egyptian Civilization
- Chinese Civilization
- Roman Civilization
Woodworking tools have been used in constructing homes, temples and monuments for thousands of years. The Egyptians were so fond of wood that many of their tools were made from wood. They use different woodworking tools to create pyramids, tombs, and palaces.
The Egyptians were exceptionally skilled in working with logs, which they would split down the middle and hollow out. This allowed them to create large pieces of furniture, such as beds and tables made of wood, that were both sturdy and comfortable.
Woodworking continued to develop over the years, with new techniques and tools being invented along the way.
The ancient Chinese used bamboo to make their traditional roofing material to built ships, stools, wooden pegs, and even feng shui decorating items were constructed with simple Chinese woodworking tools.
The earliest evidence of woodwork in China can be traced back to the Neolithic period when a group of people were found to have created a wooden figure of a woman. The carving was believed to have been done with stone tools, as evidenced by the grooves on the surface. This shows that there were carpenters who had knowledge of woodcarving and could create wooden figures.
Woodworking in Ancient Rome was a highly skilled trade. It was a crucial part of the Roman economy and culture. The Romans were known for their engineering skills, which helped them make complex machines such as watermills and siege engines.
Some historians believe that this engineering knowledge also led to the invention of the lathe, an essential tool in woodworking. Roman woodworkers used a variety of tools and techniques to create their beautiful pieces of furniture. They used these simple tools and techniques to create some of the most iconic pieces in history.
- Diamond-tipped pull saws
- Dovetail joints
Periods of Time
- The Stone Age
- The Bronze Age
- The Iron Age
The Stone Age
Woodworking is shaping wood using various instruments to create the desired result. The Stone Age was a time in human history when stone and wood pieces were used as crafting tools.
The Stone Age was an era that lasted from about 2.5 million years ago to 3300 BC The earliest humans began using simple stone tools for hunting and gathering food. Still, as the human population grew and hunting became more complex, humans began using woodworking skills to make weapons, tools, and shelters.
The Bronze Age
The Bronze Age began in 3300 BC and ended around 1200 BC, and this period was marked by the use of tools made of bronze. These tools were used to create weapons and other items. Woodwork in this era was done with these bronze tools, which were very effective for shaping wood into desired shapes.
The Iron Age
The Iron Age is a period in human history that is usually defined as the time from 1200 BC to 500 BC. It was a time of technological and social change. In this era, metal tools were invented and used for the first time.
This allowed for more durable tools, enabling people to cut down trees to veneer wood more efficiently than ever. As a result, metal axes, saws, and hammers were used instead of stone tools.
Equally important, these new tools allowed for better woodworking skills, leading to inventions such as the first circular saw, cypress wood techniques, ploughs and carts. Furthermore, these innovations improved everyday life and made work easier for people in this era. In this age, they also invented the art of veneering in woodworking.
Ancient Woodworking Tools
The saw was an essential tool for ancient civilizations, as it was used to cut wood for boats, furniture, and even tombs. The ancient Egyptians also had an instrument called a mallet, which was used to shape wood. The adze was another vital tool for the Egyptians, as it was used to carve wood.
The plummet was used to mark straight lines on wood, while the line was used to draw curved lines. The chisel was used to create detailed designs on wood. The rule stick was used to measure angles and straight lines.
The plane was another important tool for the ancient people. It was used to smooth and level wood surfaces. The squares were used to mark 90-degree angles on wood.
For more information about the history of ancient woodworking tools, take a peek at this e-book written by Peter Welsh.
Which Woods Are Best For Construction Projects?
There are many factors to consider when deciding which woods are best for construction projects. Some of the most important factors include the strength and durability of the wood, the resistance to rot and decay, and the ability to withstand extreme weather conditions.
Different types of wood are used for construction, but some are better than others. For example:
Western Red Cedar is a softwood native to North America. It has a straight grain and can quickly work with hand-operated wooden tools like bow drills. It has a light reddish-brown color with white sapwood. Moreover, this type of wood is resistant to decay and insects, which makes it perfect for outdoor use, such as decks or fences.
Cypress is another rot-resistant wood that acclimates well, particularly in areas prone to moisture or humidity.
California Redwoods or Sequoia sempervirens, meaning “ever living” in Latin. They grow up to 300 feet tall and can live up to 2,000 years old. These trees have excellent fire resistance.
Knotwood is another option that’s becoming increasingly popular due to its beautiful grain and color.
Tropical Hardwoods are perfect for construction projects that require a lot of strength and durability. These woods are solid and resistant to wear and tear, making them ideal for everything from floors to furniture.
Alvar Aalto was a Finnish architect and designer who is most famous for his work in modernist architecture. He created many designs for chairs, tables, kitchens, libraries, schools and churches.
Wharton Esherick was an American woodworker and furniture designer. In 1934 he designed the Philadelphia Museum of Art outdoor sculpture garden, considered one of the finest gardens in the country.
Thomas Chippendale, an 18th-century British cabinetmaker, created many unique wood pieces. Additionally, he developed the design and production of furniture in the British Empire. His work became known for its exquisite style, including ornate carvings and fine finishes.
In conclusion, woodworking is an ancient and noble art passed down through the ages. It is a skill that humans have used for centuries and is still used today.
While the methods and tools have changed over time, the fundamental principles of woodworking have remained the same. The history of woodworking is a fascinating topic and one that is worth investigating.
Contact Lee Roy Jordan Lumber Company with any questions about wood for decking, siding, timbers, and more.