Period woodworking trades in London were strictly regulated.
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.
In 1631, Robert Stone, a London joiner, was accused of “intermeddling” in carpenters’ work. This led to a dispute between the Carpenters’ Company and that of the Joyners’ Company that resulted in a lengthy document drawn up by the city aldermen. To settle things, the aldermen wrote out a piece-by-piece decision itemizing what work each trade could take on.
Among the many works they deemed the joyners’ realm were:
“All sorts of Bedsteads whatsoever (onlie except Boarded Bedsteads and nayled…
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