Cabinet Making...from Everyday Necessity, to Classical Art Form

Cabinet maker in Denmark, 18th century

While the introduction of machinery had had much
to do with changing the character and working methods
of the cabinet maker, it has proved a great boon to
humanity generally, and has given to the masses, a class
of furniture they never could have enjoyed but for the
cheaper productions by the aid of power, and machines,
and in these remarks, I do not wish to give the impression
that machine made furniture is not good, or that
it has not a beauty of its own, or that a majority of the
designs are not graceful and well adapted to the days
in which it was executed. In fact, I am of the belief
that woodworking machinery has proved a blessing to
both producer and user of cabinet work, while at the
same time it has proved almost fatal to the distinctive
and individual beauty of artistic handmade furniture.
…It may be said, and with justice, that there is little
or no demand for handmade art furniture, but I am
persuaded this condition is occasioned because of the
little of it there is in the market, and the very high
prices demanded for it by the owners. These high
prices are placed on the articles, not by the maker, designer
or workman, but by dealers, and the prices are
often from four to five times the actual cost of the
original work, and are only bought by rich people,
whereas, if the prices were normal, the middle classes,
whose taste is equal and often superior to that of
the very rich, would indulge in handmade work to a
very much larger extent than they now do.
The bright sharp workman, of whom there are hundreds
in our cabinet factories, who have been trained
from the lumber yards to the running of the most delicate
machinery in the shop, who by a little study, and
a little practical work, may soon become able to make
and finish furniture by hand of the finest sort, furniture
too, that will find a ready market if the maker
does his best. Many fine pieces of furniture have been
made by advanced students after work-hours or during

Furniture Designer’s Assistant


published 1910


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