Cabinetmaking

A History of the Trade for Students in Cabinet Making School

February 05, 2020

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Humans have been working with wood since caveman times, and cabinet making is one of the oldest trades known to man. Skilled cabinet makers are still in demand today, and the trade has changed significantly over the last few hundred years thanks to the invention of new tools and modern techniques.

However, many of the tools and techniques that are still used today are rooted in history. For example, many hand tools are variations of those used in Ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian traditions.

Read on to discover more about the history of cabinet making and its lasting impact on the trade today.

Earliest Examples of Woodwork and Cabinet Making

By definition, cabinets are furniture used to store things and usually feature doors, drawers and/or shelves. It’s thought that early human civilizations used wooden cabinets to protect food products and fire wood from rain and vermin. Archeologists have found evidence that Neanderthals used stone and bone to work wood over 300,000 years ago – which is probably how the first ever cabinets were made!

In the Renaissance era, cabinets became more prestigious items, and would be made of precious wood and feature intricate detailing like marquetry. The cabinet was no longer just a simple storage unit – it was a work of art.

André Charles Boulle was one of the most famous cabinet makers of this era, and his work remains on display at museums and galleries across Europe. It’s well worth seeking these pieces out at some point in your cabinet making training if you want to see the work of a true master of the craft.

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In the Renaissance era, cabinets featured intricate detailing and were designed to be works of art

Around this time, cabinets were used to store paper and valuable possessions. Cabinet makers started to introduce writing areas, which led to the invention of bureaus and desks with cabinets.

Cabinets were made larger and larger, and were often the most dominant piece of furniture in a room. All of this combined meant that cabinet makers were one of the most highly regarded woodworkers.

The Industrial Revolution and Introduction of Power Tools Used in Cabinet Making Training

The industrial revolution in the 18th century impacted almost all trades. Electricity was then invented in the mid-19th century, and these two factors changed the cabinet making trade forever.

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The industrial revolution changed the cabinet making industry forever

The industrial revolution changed the cabinet making industry forever
The circular saw was invented at the end of the 18th century, and meant that cabinet makers and carpenters could cut wood much faster. And in 1895, the first ever electric hand drill was invented. Variations of both of these inventions are still used in cabinet making courses today.

Cabinet Making Post-World War 2

In the 1950s, cabinet making became a popular hobby. People would spend time designing and building their own bespoke cabinets.

For professional cabinet makers in the 1950s, technical advances were continuing to transform the trade. The invention of numerical control machines meant that cabinet makers could now ensure that they were cutting all wood the same length and dimension without having to spend time measuring and double-checking.

The Cabinet Maker Today

Nowadays, cabinet makers need to know how to cut, shape, and join wood, and they need to be familiar using hand and power tools. Cabinets themselves have also changed. A cabinet is no longer the centre of the room, but often refers to built-in kitchen and bathroom cabinets.

While the cabinet making trade has changed throughout history, it remains an in-demand profession worldwide, and a very rewarding one.

Are you interested in cabinet making courses?
Contact North American Trade Schools to find out more!

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