The cabinet maker is one of the oldest professions in the UK and there is evidence of this dating back to the 16th century. To understand what being a cabinet maker is, let’s look at some definitions of this trade:
Both definitions include the phrase high quality, so this is very much distinct from being a carpenter. There is more to cabinetmaking than just joining wood. It can be intricate and complex hence the need for skilled training. To become a cabinet maker takes years of dedication, it’s not necessarily a job that one just walks into. For many cabinetmakers, it takes years to learn about wood and to hone their making skills
College route into cabinetmaking
Many cabinetmakers find their apprentices through colleges and the CITB Construction Industry Training Board which set out over a three-year period where certain skills must be learnt, acquired and be tested on. This assessment takes place not just on practical skills but also the theory behind cabinetmaking. A standard apprenticeship would encompass time at a college and learning based experience within a workshop. The college part of an apprenticeship teaches the student the fundamentals and core knowledge needed for this profession and how this translates in practical terms is learned in the workplace. Respected and recognised colleges such as Rycotewood, Chichester, Burnley, Moulton and Cornwall have a good reputation in producing fine cabinet makers.
Privately run courses
There are alternatives to college such as privately run courses by highly skilled cabinet makers. These are carried out under the guidance of craftsmen renowned within the industry. The most reputable of these is the Edwards Barnsley Workshop, Robinson House Studio and the Rowden Atelier Woodworking School established by the late and truly remarkable David Savage.
Qualities of a good cabinet maker
There are many different qualities that come together to make a fine cabinet maker, but we have listed the ones that we believe stand out to us:
1. Attention to detail – It is the artisan eye within the cabinet maker that really captures incredible detail in their craft.
2. Understanding of timber – A knowledge on reading timber, understanding its mechanics and how to work a piece to achieving the best result.
3. Good time management – A quality that is necessary in all trades, the cabinet maker must adhere to project deadlines to ensure the furniture is completed.
4. Skilled use of tools – The cabinet maker must have an inherent knowledge of which tools to use to craft their piece to the highest standard and understand how to care for them, as they are their livelihood.
5. Commitment – A total dedication to producing excellence in their work
Not just a job
To learn your true skill as a cabinet maker carries on for many years. Many apprentices are taught that they will never stop learning as there are always alternative ways in accomplishing the same thing. One thing is for certain, it really does take a lot of skill, dedication and love to be part of the cabinetmaking industry. Cabinetmakers really live and breathe wood. It is not just a job; it is their vocation.
Click here to read more about cabinet making heritage