Articles on carpentry history and carpentry building tips by Alter Eagle
English Origin of the word Carpenter
In English the word carpenter goes back to the 1300's and the Anglo-Normans with the Norman Conquest of 1066. The Normans were of Viking decsent from Northern France who invaded the Germanic Saxons after the Roman occupation of the original Celts. That replaced the Old English word treowwyrhta as we carpenters were known as tree-wrights. Wright (wyrcan) in Old English just meant "to work" but you still hear that use in the trades like shipwright or wheelwright.
"Carpenter" most likely was from a mix of Old Celtic carpentom and Old French carpentier which is derived from the earlier Roman faber carpentarius, a woodworker who specialized in the construction of the two-wheeled cart, or carpentum. In Roman times though faber tignarius, literally, a "beam craftsman" was the general term for a carpenter.
Scope of study for a general carpenter
In this pop up I listed what you typically study in an accredited apprenticeship for general carpenter. As a master carpenter this is what you cover with your apprentice so I wrote it in the order you usually build when on site.
A brief history of carpentry following the North American roots
I'm a carpenter interested in our history and this is a condensed timeline of subjects, buildings and people I think made a difference in the evolution of carpentry from prehistoric tools to the early middle ages. The bottom line it's a non-academic eclectic study with additional information from visiting historic sites. Thank-you to all of the reference images and the university resources, there are just far too many to mention.
Prehistoric - tools the begining of carpentry - 2 million years ago
2,000,000 to 12,000 years ago our hunter-gather carpenter ancestors start stone tool technology. 10,000 years ago in the Neolithic age temporary stone circles become homes with the begining of civilization an explosion of invention and tool improvement. A partial list of the gods of carpentry.
Ancient Egypt - carpenters become craftsmen - 5000 years ago
5,000 years ago the Egyptian civilization develop many of the methods and tools that make carpenters the craftsmen we would recognize today. They used basic post and lintel designs for their monuments and a rudementary mathematical system with no zero for building layout.
Greece - carpentry becomes an art - 3000 years ago
3,000 years ago the ancient Greeks develop the three great architectural orders focusing on natural balance and symmetry. A time of City-states and warfare but with the beginning of the sciences, advances in mathematics and applied physics they produced an artistic harmony we still use in carpentry.
Roman - carpenters & monumental construction - 2,500 years ago
2,500 years ago the Romans assimilated the Egyptian and Greek advancements and made enormous steps in construction techniques especially through their orginization of massive building projects. Monumental construction passed down to future generations by excellent craftsmen that lasted for centuries.
Early Middle Age - carpenters build from the chaos - 1,500 years ago
The 1000 year Medieval period had three basic ages Early, High Middle and Late.
1,500 years ago the decline of the Roman Empire brings on the Early Middle Ages. The first 300 years carpentry technology and engineering advances were lost but the rise of the guilds and the revolutionary reforms under Charlemagne changed the craftsmanship of carpentry.