Cabinet Making : The Art of Handmade Furniture

Cabinet Making : The Art of Handmade Furniture

Stickley here goes through the benefits of learning cabinet making in terms of the extra income it may provide and the better quality furniture that is likely to result from scale scale making of handmade furniture.

As a Cottage Industry

¶ One great advantage of taking up cabinet making at home as well as in the schools, is that it could be made not only a means of amusement or mental development to the individual, but could be expanded into a home or neighborhood handicraft that might be carried on in connection with small farming, upon a basis that would insure a reasonable financial success. Handicrafts, as practiced by individual arts and crafts workers in the studio, do not afford a sufficient living to craft workers as a class, but that is largely because these very principles of sound construction and thorough workmanship are not always observed or even comprehended, so that it is difficult for the individual worker to produce anything that has a definite and permanent commercial value. This kind of furniture, on the contrary, has a very well defined and thoroughly established commercial value, as our own experience has proven; and yet it is so simple in design and construction that it can be made at home or on the farm during the idle months of winter or by a group of workers in a village, in fact under almost any conditions where it would seem advantageous to do such work, especially under the guidance of a competent cabinetmaker.

Advantages of Handmade Furniture

¶ Whether regarded as one of the forms of a profitable handicraft that might be depended upon as a means of support, or at least of adding to the income obtained from a small farm, or whether regarded merely as a means of recreation for a busy man during his leisure hours at home, cabinet making is likely to prove a most interesting pursuit.

Selection of Wood

¶ One distinct advantage is that furniture handmade in this way, if well done, would be better than any that could possibly be made in a factory, because the work would naturally be more carefully done. Also the interest that attaches to the right use of wood could be developed to a much greater degree than is possible where the work is done on a large scale, because judgment and discrimination could be applied to the selection of lumber that is without any special market value according to commercial standards, but that has in it certain flaws and irregularities that make it far more interesting than the costlier lumber necessary for purely commercial work. This one item would be a great advantage as lumber grows scarcer and harder to obtain.

¶ Also, the furniture itself would have much more individual interest because of this very feature, for then it would be possible to select certain pieces of wood for special uses and to develop to the utmost all the natural qualities of color and grain that might prove interesting when rightly used and in the right place. It is by these very methods and under similar conditions that the Japanese have gained such world wide fame as discriminating users of very simple and inexpensive woods. A Japanese regards a piece of wood as he might a picture and his one idea is to do something with it that will show it to the very best advantage, as well as gain from it the utmost measure of usefulness.

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