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The Business of Carpentry from Early Times Until Now

Featured image by Clem Onojeghuo from Pexels

Carpentry is a complex and challenging discipline that few master. Whether you’re starting your own woodworking business or you are simply curious about the history of carpentry, let’s explore this fascinating craft.


Carpentry has been around for as long as human beings have been using tools. With crude stone implements, prehistoric people probably first created weapons for hunting. From there they progressed to building wooden structures for shelter, then to simple furniture and other useful items.

Throughout human history and all around the world historians find evidence of the business of carpentry:

  • A well casing in Germany made of split oak timbers is about 7,000 years old. As such, it is one of the earliest remaining examples of carpentry on earth.
  • The father of Chinese carpentry, Lu Ban, lived during the Zhou Dynasty (1046-771 BC). While he was famed for his woodworking skills, his wife, Lady Yun, was said to possess “heavenly skills” that far surpassed his own. Later, during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) the emperor Taizu categorized people into various hereditary occupations, among them carpentry.
  • Ancient Egyptian carvings show early carpenters working with wood.
  • A well-known story in the Western world is that of Noah building a wooden arc at God’s command.

What Is Carpentry?

Carpentry is essentially the art and trade of cutting, working, and joining timber. It includes structural timberwork such as framing for items such as doors, windows, and staircases, as well as fine woodworking such as furniture making and cabinetry.

Historically, carpenters worked with natural wood, but nowadays they also use other materials. Today’s carpenters either learn their trade on the job or through apprenticeships and other training programs.

How Has Technology Changed the Craft?

Carpentry has not seen much in the way of disruptive innovations and technological advancements over the centuries. However, this occupation has certainly changed over time, and its tools, techniques, and equipment have changed dramatically, if slowly.

Power tools, for example, brought about one of the most significant transformations the industry has seen. These days, electric saws and sanders mean that tasks can be completed in a matter of minutes instead of the several hours they once took.


There has also been a giant step forward with regard to safety measures and the technologies those require.

Carpentry has always been a fairly risky business. From collapsing beams to exposed electrical wires to hazardous weather conditions, carpenters face a variety of workday hazards. However, most power tools today have safety features and shields that help protect carpenters from harm. Nonetheless, woodworkers must learn and use the safety rules that apply to them.

The Business of Carpentry Is for Those Who Love Working with Wood

The craft of carpentry has changed greatly over time. However, the passion that goes into crafting wood into enduring buildings and beautiful compositions remains. If you are exploring ways to turn your love of woodworking into a solid career, check out these resources.