The State of Joinery in England

The latest French work which treats of joinery is Rondelet’s “L’Art de Batir.” It is also the best foreign work on the subject that we have seen; but it is not at all adapted to the state of joinery in England. In practice, the French joiners are very much inferior to our own. Their work is rough, slovenly, and often clumsy, and at best is confined to external effect.

The neatness, soundness, and accuracy, which is common to every part of the works of an English joinery, is scarcely to be found in any part of the works of a French one. The little correspondence, in point of excellence, between their theory and practice, leads us to think that their theoretical knowledge is confined to architects, engineers, &c. instead of being diffused among workmen, as it is in this country.

In cabinet-work the French workmen are certainly superior, at least as far as regards external appearance; but when use, as well as ornament, is to be considered, our own countrymen must certainly carry away the palm.

— Encyclopaedia Britannica 7th Edition 1842 Joinery Article by Thomas Tredgold C.E.

About Chris Schwarz

Publisher of woodworking books and DVDs specializing in hand tool techniques.
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14 Responses to The State of Joinery in England

  1. Quite right too! The modesty, cleverness and lack of prejudice of the English are without equal. Come to think of it though, my best-selling product is based on a rather ingenious 18th century French design . . .

  2. Matt Grayum says:

    Lol. “…rough, slovenly, and often clumsy…”. Come on English, how do you really feel about the French?

  3. John Cashman says:

    Take that, ya cheese-eatin’ surrender monkeys.

  4. Josh says:

    So I have to ask – Are the dovetails missing on the legs and are those doug fir beams being used for the benchtop?

  5. Darryl says:

    Did Thomas Tredgold hail from Hartlepool , they were hard on the French and monkeys too

  6. thunderhawk1950 says:

    Having come from three generations of French woodworkers,….it’s not surprising the English think of themselves as better…its a figment of their imagination!

    Bonjour

  7. Eric R says:

    Put THAt in your pipe and smoke it Frenchy !

  8. Jeff K says:

    You don’t frighten us, English pig-dogs! Go and boil your bottoms, sons of a silly person! I blow my nose at you, so-called Tredgold C.E., you and all your silly English jooooinerrrrry!

  9. Howard says:

    You have inadvertently stumbled upon the ancient English pastime called ‘sticking-it-to-the French’.

    This should in no way detract from the average Englishman’s high regards for all things German or emanating from the Fatherland. Best left unmentioned…..

    .

  10. David Pickett says:

    Good to see that nothing much has changed in a century and a half.

    There was a blind tasting of champagnes held last year. The one that won was grown and made in Sussex. That really peeved them…

    Oh – and English is the new Lingua Franca.

    • David Pickett says:

      That said, I do have to grudgingly admit that the French do make quite good rasps.

  11. Howard says:

    .

    Separated by twenty miles of water, we love ‘em to bits, really……. as summed up admirably by Brabbins and Ffyfe in music and words……

    .

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