Arts & Mysteries: Joyners vs. Carpenters, 1631
by Peter Follansbee
I’ve temporarily put down my 5⁄16″ joiner’s mortising chisel in favor of a 2″ chisel for chopping carpenter’s mortises. I’m timber framing a workshop, and while whomping away on 2″-wide mortises, I have time to think.
My principal work has always been as a “joiner” in the period sense, what we might now call a “furniture maker.” But the trades of joiner and carpenter are pretty similar, so it’s not too far-fetched for me to swap out for larger tools, larger joints and a larger project all around. A drawbored mortise and tenon is the same, regardless of scale.
I live in a time and place in which I can tackle whatever form of woodworking I desire, and nobody’s nose gets out of joint. This wasn’t always the case. Seventeenth-century London was a bustling place, filled with craftsmen of all flavors – but with those large numbers of people came large numbers of regulations.