What Do You Know about the History of Woodworking?
Throughout ancient history until our modern era, every civilization in the world has used wood to create useful as well as beautiful and decorative objects.
We see examples of woodworking by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Chinese. Many other ancient cultures around the world also practiced woodworking, employing many different styles and techniques.
Many ancient Egyptian drawings going back to 2000 B.C. depict wood furnishings such as beds, chairs, stools, tables, beds, and chests. There’s also physical evidence of these wooden objects, as many were found well-preserved in tombs due to the country’s dry climate. Even some sarcophagi (coffins) found in the tombs were crafted from wood.
According to some scholars, Egyptians were the first to varnish, or “finish” their woodwork, though no one knows the composition of these “finishes”. Finishing is the art of placing some kind of protective sealant on wood materials in order to preserve them.
Early Chinese civilizations also promoted the art of woodworking. It’s believed that woodworking mushroomed in that country starting around 720 B.C. When that happened, the Chinese developed many sophisticated applications of woodworking, including precise measurements used for making pots, tables, and other pieces of furniture.
During this time, a well-known carpenter, Lu Ban, was credited as being one of the originators of woodworking in China. It’s believed he brought the plane, chalk line, and other tools to China. Some 1500 years after his death, his teachings were compiled in the book Lu Ban Jing (“Manuscript of Lu Ban”).
Japanese woodworkers also made exquisitely-sculpted scenery. Their popularity and the techniques used in the process spread across Southeast Asia.
Another highly skilled form of woodworking was blocked prints – made from inked blocks of wood. Lacquering also was developed in the orient. It is a technique dominant in Japan, China, and Korea.
The Roman Empire also had its share of skilled woodworkers. Wielding adzes, lathes, files, planes, saws, and drills, including the bow drill, they constructed aqueducts and waterworks using wooden scaffolding, built impressive warships and barges and erected strong and lethal battering rams and catapults for attacking enemy cities.
They also crafted furniture, including tables and chairs that stylistically represented the arms of animals or that were carved to represent mythological creatures.