Woodworking is the process of building, making or carving something using wood.


Along with stone, mud, and animal parts, wood was certainly one of the first materials worked by primitive human beings. Microwear analysis of the Mousterian stone tools used by the Neanderthals show that many were used to work wood. The development of civilization was closely tied to the development of increasingly greater degrees of skill in working these materials.

Among early finds of wooden tools are the worked sticks from Kalambo Falls, Clacton-on-Sea and Lehringen. The spears from Schöningen (Germany) provide some of the first examples of wooden hunting gear. Flint tools were used for carving. Since Neolithic times, carved wooden vessels are known, for example, from the Linear Pottery culture wells at Kückhofen and Eythra. Examples of Bronze Age wood-carving include trees worked into coffins from northern Germany and Denmarkand wooden folding-chairs. The site of Fellbach-Schmieden in Germany has provided fine examples of wooden animal statues from the Iron Age. Wooden idols from the La Tène period are known from a sanctuary at the source of the Seine in France.

Two ancient civilizations that used woodworking were the Egyptians and the Chinese. Woodworking is depicted in many ancient Egyptian drawings, and a considerable amount of ancient Egyptian furniture (such as stools, chairs, tables, beds, chests) has been preserved in tombs. As well, the inner coffins found in the tombs were also made of wood. The metal used by the Egyptians for woodworking tools was originally copper and eventually, after 2000 BC bronze as ironworking was unknown until much later. [Enrichetta Leospo (2001), "Woodworking in Ancient Egypt", "The Art of Woodworking", Turin: Museo Egizio, p.20] Commonly used woodworking tools included axes, adzes, chisels, pull saws, and bow drills. Mortise and tenon joints are attested from the earliest Predynastic period. These joints were strengthened using pegs, dowels and leather or cord lashings. Animal glue came to be used only in the New Kingdom period. ["Ibid"., pp.20-21] Ancient Egyptians invented the art of veneering and used varnishes whose composition is not known as finishes. Although different native acacias were used, as was the wood from the local sycomore and tamarisk trees, deforestation in the Nile valley resulted in the need for importation of wood, notably cedar, but also Aleppo pine, boxwood and oak, starting from the Second Dynasty. ["Ibid"., pp. 17-19]

The progenitors of Chinese woodworking are considered to be Lu Ban (魯班) and his wife Lady Yun, from the Spring and Autumn Period. Lu Ban is said to have brought the plane, chalkline, and other tools to China. His teachings are supposedly left behind in the book "Lu Ban Jing" (魯班經, "Manuscript of Lu Ban"), although it was written some 1500 years after his death. This book is filled largely with descriptions of dimensions for use in building various items—such as flower pots, tables, altars, etc.—and also contains extensive instructions concerning Feng Shui. It mentions almost nothing of the intricate glueless and nailless joinery for which Chinese furniture was so famous.


Historically, woodworkers relied upon the woods native to their region, until transportation and trade innovations made more exotic woods available to the craftsman. Woods can be sorted into three basic types: hardwoods typified by tight grain and derived from broadleaf trees, softwoods from coniferous trees, and man-made materials such as plywood and MDF.

Notable Woodworkers

* Alvar Aalto
* Norm Abram
* John Boson
* Tage Frid
* Eileen Gray
* R. Bruce Hoadley
* James Krenov
* John Makepeace
* Sam Maloof
* David J. Marks
* George Nakashima
* Alan Peters
* André Jacob Roubo
* Henry O. Studley
* Roy Underhill

ee also

* Fire hardening
* History of construction
* History of wood carving
* Saw pit
* Sloyd
* Stave church
* Turning
* Lathart
* Wagae-nuri Japanese lacquerware
* Wood as a medium
* Wood turning
* Woodworking glossary
* Woodworking workbench
* Segmented turning
* Tack cloth
* Wood



*cite book
last = Feirer
first = John L.
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Cabinetmaking and Millwork
publisher = Glencoe Publishing
date = 1988
location = Mission Hills California
pages =
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 0-02-675950-0

*cite book
last = Frid
first = Tage
authorlink = Tage Frid
coauthors =
title = Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking
publisher = Taunton Press
date = 1979
location = Newton, Connecticut
pages =
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 0-918804-03-5

*cite book
last = Joyce
first = Edward
authorlink =
coauthors = revised and expanded by Alan Peters
title = Encyclopedia of Furniture Making
publisher = Sterling Publishing Co.
date = 1987
location = New York
pages =
url =
doi =
id = ISBN 0-8069-6440-5 (ISBN 0-8069-7142-8 Paperback)

*cite book
last = Roubo
first = André Jacob
authorlink = André Jacob Roubo
coauthors =
title = The Art of the Joiner
publisher = Académie des Sciences
date = 1769-1784
location = Paris
pages =
url =
doi =
id =

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • woodworking — [wood′wʉr΄kiŋ] n. the art or work of making things of wood adj. of woodworking woodworker n …   English World dictionary

  • woodworking — I. adjective Date: 1839 used for woodworking II. noun Date: 1858 the act, process, or occupation of working wood into a useful or desired form • woodworker noun …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • woodworking — /wood werr king/, n. 1. the act or art of working wood. adj. 2. pertaining to or used for shaping wood: woodworking tools. [1870 75; WOOD1 + WORKING] * * * …   Universalium

  • woodworking — noun Woodworking is used before these nouns: ↑tool …   Collocations dictionary

  • woodworking — /ˈwʊdwɜkɪŋ/ (say woodwerking) noun 1. the art or craft of someone who works in wood. –adjective 2. relating to or used for shaping wood: woodworking tools. {woodwork + ing1} …   Australian English dictionary

  • woodworking — woodwork ► NOUN 1) the wooden parts of a room, building, or other structure. 2) Brit. the activity or skill of making things from wood. ● come out of the woodwork Cf. ↑come out of the woodwork DERIVATIVES woodworker noun …   English terms dictionary

  • woodworking — noun The crafts of carpentry, cabinet making and related skills of making things from wood …   Wiktionary

  • woodworking — n. carpentry …   English contemporary dictionary

  • woodworking — wood•work•ing [[t]ˈwʊdˌwɜr kɪŋ[/t]] n. 1) bui the act or art of working wood 2) bui pertaining to or used for shaping wood • Etymology: 1870–75 …   From formal English to slang

  • woodworking — noun the craft of a carpenter: making things out of wood • Syn: ↑carpentry, ↑woodwork • Derivationally related forms: ↑carpenter (for: ↑carpentry) • Members of this Topic: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

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