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Where ends the Cabinetmaker and beginns the Carpenter

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Forum topic by Waldschrat posted 08-09-2009 04:41 PM 5203 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Waldschrat

505 posts in 2903 days


08-09-2009 04:41 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I have a great question on all you profi wood workers out there, what is the name, or how does one call the cabinetmaker (or wood worker) or wood worker who builds doors and windows specifically? Is he called a finish carpenter? And What exactly is the difference between a Cabinetmaker and a Finish Carpenter?... there must be a difference otherwise there would not be two terms describing the same thing… or perhaps there was at one time a difference but not any longer…. either way, I would be very greatfull if someone posesses the knowledge to answer this question.

Thanks for any help or info!

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine


19 replies so far

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kolwdwrkr

2821 posts in 3057 days


#1 posted 08-09-2009 05:19 PM

I’d have to say the differance between a cabinetmaker and a finish carpenter is that a cabinetmaker traditionally builds cabinets and installs them. A finish carpenter does millwork such as installing doors and casings, crown, base, wainscotting, coffered ceilings, mantles, railing, etc. Essentially anything “finished” that is carpentry.
I would assume that a door or window maker are simply considered a woodworker.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

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dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 3781 days


#2 posted 08-09-2009 06:10 PM

A cabinetmaker rarely leaves his shop, finish carpenter never gets to see his shop.

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Raymond McInnis

36 posts in 2714 days


#3 posted 08-09-2009 06:21 PM

historically, according to the noted english woodworker, charles hayward—in his book, “english period furniture”—the last age of the “carpenter’ was the english jacobean period,

a brief 1603 to 1660, and then a transitional period—the so-called restoration when charles ii was appointed king—and then with the georgian period, 1715, the age of the cabinet maker begins.

(what happened to the queen anne period?)

anyway, the introduction of walnut and later mahagony is the factor that hayward uses as the marker for the cabinet maker. he then goes on to discuss, in a series of stages the age of the designer, including chippendale, heppwlehite, adam and sheraton, and so forth.

hayward was a remarkable woodworker/writer, on a par with america’s rj decristoforo. read more about hayward here: http://www.woodworkinghistory.com/manual_author18.htm

what is lacking in this explanation is of course details about the criteria that hayward uses for distinguishing between the carpenter and the cabinet maker. essentially it is a use of more elaborate techniques of building just furniture—detailed in his ch 4—like the introduction of walnut, with its finer grain, which lent itself to finer work than the traditional oak. he lays this out in ch 4.

historically this may be interesting, but it really doesn’t address the question, what today distinguishes the carpenter from the cabinet maker?

-- Raymond McInnis Washington State ray@woodworkinghistory.com

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Raymond McInnis

36 posts in 2714 days


#4 posted 08-09-2009 08:24 PM

i thought about that item after posting above. frankly, i think that the talents/skills of each—finish carpenter/cabinet maker— make them virtually equals.

my problem with cabinet-maker is “cabinet”. cabinet doesn’t really imply a furniture-maker, and i can’t help but think the furniture-making is pivotal to any distinction.

“craftsman” comes to mind as a more inclusive term that embraces furniture making,

but craftsman, without something like “master” attached to it, is too generic.

if there is another term that includes furniture maker i can’t think of it on the spot

-- Raymond McInnis Washington State ray@woodworkinghistory.com

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Abbott

2570 posts in 2771 days


#5 posted 08-09-2009 08:26 PM

“And What exactly is the difference between a Cabinetmaker and a Finish Carpenter?... “

About an 1/8”….......:)

LOL, perfect!

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

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Waldschrat

505 posts in 2903 days


#6 posted 08-09-2009 08:39 PM

hey guys thanks for the responses! Very interesting…. I learn something every day…. The english history of the cabinetmaker and carpenter is something that I was also not aware of. I agree of course being a cabinet maker and I am really by the webster definition a furniture maker by profesion… but here in Germany we are called Schreiner or Tischler (depending on dialect or where you live) and if you look that up is says cabinetmaker.

Addressing what Kolwdwrkr said, is something, that must also depend on the country… which is exactly why I was asking… because a Schreiner (eng. Cabinetmaker) is the one who also builds in doors and windows and does not really belong to a generic not educated profession.

I love the 1/8” inch thing! Thats great…. I will remember this ;-)

Thanks for the imput and looking forward to any more.

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

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huff

2828 posts in 2752 days


#7 posted 08-11-2009 05:49 AM

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a1Jim

115206 posts in 3044 days


#8 posted 08-11-2009 06:35 AM

What’s in a name ? I hear and read about woodworkers who make and build things from decks to people who make museum quality furniture all call them self Woodworkers . Ultimately the proof is in the product,If you build a deck your a carpentry or woodworker. If you build a break front your a furniture maker or woodworker. So if you need that title “Master__” or”Cabinet maker” , “Finish Carpenter” Or ? what ever, go for it. But not mater what you call your self The proof is in the product.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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Waldschrat

505 posts in 2903 days


#9 posted 08-11-2009 09:19 AM

very good point…. I can definetly understand that. In the end its all about the product. or end product.

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

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Raymond McInnis

36 posts in 2714 days


#10 posted 08-11-2009 05:07 PM

jim makes a good point.

after my post (above) i thought about some of the “finish” carpenters whose work i have seen. perhaps most breath-taking is a spiral staircase with its beautiful curling banister, truly a work of lasting art, certainly on a par with the furniture of the finest master craftsmen.

at that level of production, though, maybe the label finish carpenter doesn’t fly, and the person is himself the master craftsman.

-- Raymond McInnis Washington State ray@woodworkinghistory.com

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Waldschrat

505 posts in 2903 days


#11 posted 08-11-2009 05:31 PM

Actually thats another good question… I have not found to date a profession that deals specifficaly with Stairs… Here A cabinetmaker makes stairs as well as sometimes Carpenters. Kind of a gray area, I suppose…

But however thanks for the imput, (and all the responses! :-) I think though the question is not one of quality but of the difference between cabinetmaker and finish carpenter. I think though the info that has been posted here one could conclude that a finsh carpenter is more responsible for doors and windows, but not bound to always build that stuff, and Cabinetmakers (in america) are dealing more with building furniture. Both can be of very high quality, (regardless of the poking fun at the carpenters (what we do here too!) and masons are the easiest targets ;-).

I think in America since it is easier to get into woodworking at an entry level (not to mention it much easier to start a business, because there are so many rules and regulations here) that the names of who does what are probably not too important in this day and age… like Jim said, and I have the feeling that is the product thats important and the quality of it.

Either way,it will always remain fun as a cabinet maker in this area, to poke fun at our cousins in wood working the carpenters!

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

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a1Jim

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#12 posted 08-12-2009 05:30 AM

Hey Nick
I’m not sure about others but making fun of carpenters is not part of the equation ,as far as I’m concerned, besides making furniture I still do a variety of carpentry work from built in furniture to decks I like the change from being indoors all winter making furniture to outdoor work during the summer I find nothing wrong with carpentry work and find it pays better than most furniture Jobs. If you can make $ 5000 building a deck in a week and $1200 for 6 weeks to build a custom chest what’s the most financially rewarding. Do I love building furniture you bet it’s my passion. Is carpentry a joke not to me.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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kolwdwrkr

2821 posts in 3057 days


#13 posted 08-12-2009 06:01 AM

You have to be a carpenter to be a cabinet maker as well. Finish carpenters typically take care of mouldings and things like that, so in essence, if you add crown moulding or base moulding to your cabinetry you are essentially doing finish carpentry. Millwork is not cabinetry, thus is left up to the finish carpenter.
I agree with Jim. I too like to build other things not typically related to furniture and fine woodwork, However, I tend to make it as such. I just built a nice fence and am building a hand carved redwood bench. I think it’s enjoyable. I also agree with the financial aspect. That’s why people build cabinetry as opposed to furniture. There’s more money in it. If there was a demand for decks and such here I’m sure I would be doing that and not cabinetry. It’s all relevant. We must do the work that feeds our family, even if we don’t enjoy it. Because we have to we will be good at it.
There’s a need for every specialty from masons to millworkers. Each one is a skill the other probably doesn’t possess or have the knowledge to do, and so we tend to need each other to accomplish the job. I’ve seen some very skilled masons, and because of there skill level was inspired to try it. It is very difficult and strenuous work, and I wouldn’t want to do it for a living. My hats off to those guys for sure.
As for me, I’m a carpenter, cabinetmaker, furniture maker, sometimes a plumber, sometimes an electrician, rough carpenter, gardener, tile setter, and anything I have to do to achieve a successfull project. And I like the fact that I can do the work.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

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Waldschrat

505 posts in 2903 days


#14 posted 08-12-2009 03:00 PM

Jim,

Thanks for the post, I did not mean it that way… I was just trying to bring a bit of humor into it thats all! please do not take it the wrong way. I did not want my last post to come off in a negative way.

But you are right of course, the profit to work time margin (not to mention investments in material and time) are much better in the Carpentry branch of work. Thats where I started more or less as well.

Kolwdwkr,

Thanks for the post as well! That is an interesting point about the finish cabinetry… So in the profession of Cabinetmaking where you live… the cabinet maker could install moulding to the cabintry, attaching it to the wall but, this technically belongs to another profession… the finish carpenter. That I think was the definition I was looking for, in the original question. So base board moulding and door moulding and all that belongs to Finish carpentry too… interesting, I guess now I am beginning to understand the system of who does what.
See thats what I was curious about… thats all things that a “cabinetmaker” where I am would do. And we have two branches (roughly) for cabinet makers. One is the type who does the “finish carpentry” like you described plus doors and windows, (as Jim said the more lucrative one) and there are the furniture maker types of cabinet makers (the more fine and expensive, harder to get business and compete with IKEA types).

I also can say that Carpenters, especially the ones I know and the ones who work here are very good at what they do. There is always more and more prefabricated houses and what not, but the ones here are experts at the post and beam style of construction, not using nail guns and cutting joints by hand, working in dangerous conditions and out in the weather.

A good friend of mine is a mason, I know the work, I help him once and a while with laying stones down or removing old tiles and concrete (most houses here are built of stone or bricks actually). so no worries not trying insult anyone.

I guess the whole reason I was curious is because as kolwdwkr stated he does a little of everything… thats something that you do not see here very often, because we all stay in our profession area, but therefore, we are very good in that one thing. Thats why I was asking the difference between the two professions.

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

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kolwdwrkr

2821 posts in 3057 days


#15 posted 08-12-2009 04:01 PM

The names came at a time where there was a demand for specialty people. If you were a cabinetmaker you built cabinets, furniture makers built furniture, etc. In todays society there are more craftsman then there is work so people have to do what feeds the family. And that’s why a cabinetmaker, no matter where in the world, will be caught doing other things including minor plumbing and such. It’s because they need to do as much work as possible to make money. When I started my business I knew I was trying to sell kitchen and bath cabinetry. However, I also knew there were a million other shops in the area and that I wasn’t going to stay busy. So instead of saying KOL Custom Cabinetry or the like, I opted to say KOL Woodworks. And that is what I offer. I am a woodworker, and hold a General Contractors license as well as a C-6 for cabinetry and millwork. The bottom line is that in order to be successfull in anything you need to be an entreprenuer and off more then you may be capable of. Just hire people who can do it.
So even here a cabinetmaker will make a front door, do casings, etc. It’s all about feeding the kids. We are all just woodworkers, we are all just Lumberjocks

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

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