History of Woodworking & Ancient Carpentry

If you look at the history of woodworking, you’ll be amazed to study the deep relationship of wood with different civilizations to date. The wood relics show that the Egyptians, Chinese, Romans, and Greeks have had a deep connection with the material for years. 

Everything in this world, be it a profession, skill, or habit, has some origin from where it begins and starts evolving over the period of time. The same goes for woodworking. Like other natural resources, wood is also one of the matters with which the early human beings dealt a lot. 

woodworking history

In this article, we’ll run you through the history of woodworking. The techniques and various styles of creating woodwork and the development of the profession with the human development. You will know about most of it if you stick with us by the end of the blog.

Significance of Woodworking

Woodworking is basically the creation of different objects and art utilizing wood pieces. There are limitless projects that you can work on once you’ve learned the skill of woodworking. From making a number of cuts on wood, creating birdhouses, creating cabinets and decks, to turning bowls. There is a lot you can design using your woodworking skills, for commercial as well as for home projects.

Woodworking History – The Earliest Traces

The earliest traces of woodworking were discovered on the Kalambo river by archaeologists. The relics included digging sticks and a wooden club was found at the border of Tanzania and Zambia. People back then used their skills to make defensive and hunting tools for the protection of their tribes.

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Subsequently, woods have been used as one of the sources of survival for human beings. Gradually, the skills continued to improve making humans better hunters, builders, and advanced carpenters. It became a key factor in the elevation of a number of civilizations. 

The ancient carpentry Reference From The Bible

In one of the sections of the bible, The Book of Genesis, it is mentioned the great woodworker Noah made history by acting upon the divine orders of God to build an ark. It was built to carry out the purpose of serving mankind. 

The 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high ark was created with cypress to give it a coating of the pitch. It was ginormous enough to give an outlook of a 4 story building. It was the epitome of woodwork art and proved that woodworking was invented even before mankind came into existence.

history of woodworking

You can find in the bible references of woodworking mastery of Israelite’s in the era of Solomon. Solomon imported the Phoenician craftsmen all the way from the coastal city of Tyre to construct his temple, from Chapter 5 of 1 king. 

It’s mentioned in I44:13 Isaiah that the Israelite’s carpenters were banished to Babylon after Jerusalem was captured by Babylonians in 597 B.C (Jeremiah 24:1; 29:2). 

The expertise of carpentry was prominent in Phoenicians. They have a vast history of dealing with intricate projects such as manufacturing furniture carved with ivory and the adeptness kept on improving with the passage of time.

The use of Cedar in the History of Woodworking

In the Biblical world, Lebanese cedar was one of the most demanded imports from Lebanon. It had great use in ancient carpentry history. This high-quality wood offered high resistance to insects and rot along with a satisfying aroma. It was widely used in the manufacturing of various temples, vessels, and even the famous Solomon temple was built using this wood. 

The history depicts that cedar wood was also utilized for the manufacturing of Jesus’ boat. It was discovered by two brothers back in 1986 at the northwestern seashore of Galilee. The boat came into notice after the water level dropped post the extreme drought. 

It’s shown by the evidence that the 27 feet long and 7 feet wide boat was constructed somewhere between 100 B.C. to 100 A.D. In history, it was one of the near-to-completion boats discovered from the sea of Galilee. 

Ancient Egyptian Woodworking Contributions

Most of the Egyptian artwork depicts the interests and work done by Egyptians in the field of woodworking. Their furniture such as chairs, tables, stools, chests, and wooden coffins are still preserved in tombs. 

The tools Egyptians used for the manufacturing of their wooden products were made of copper until 2000 BC and after that, bronze was also used to serve that purpose. The most commonly used tools are named adzes, axes, bow drills, chisels, and pull saws. 

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Initially, the Egyptians used to get the wood from tamarisk, native acacias, and local sycamore trees. But then they started to import the oak, cedar, boxwood, and Aleppo all the way from the Middle East, during the second dynasty post deforestation in the Nile valley. 

History shows that the art of veneering was also first invented by the Egyptians. The initial veneering work can be found in the 5000 years old tomb of Semerkhet. The burial of Pharaoh also involved some ivory inlays along with African ebony veneer. 

The oldest plywood piece was found in a third dynasty coffin that was discovered by Egyptologists. The plywood was made of four millimeters thick and 6 layered wood that was bound together with the help of wooden pegs. 

Moreover, the finishing and varnishing techniques were also first used by the Egyptians. They have great contributions to the field of woodworking. Their techniques and advancements are still in use by modern aged people. 

The History of Woodworking Linked to Chinese

The Chinese civilization started getting impressed by the art of woodworking back in 720 B.C. The famous Chinese carpenter, Lu ban is named among one of the originators of woodworking in the country. He was the person behind bringing the woodworking tools such as the plane and chalk line to the country. 

There’s a publication named manuscript of Lu Ban in which all of his woodworking techniques, following the dimension and directions for making different wood objects are added. 

You can also find his services in the form of instructions he developed regarding the Feng shui aka “wind and water”. It is an ancient technique of Chinese for the placement of objects in a certain strategic position for the achievement of health, prosperity, optimal and healthy wellness. 

history of woodworking

The book was published almost after 1500 years of his demise. But a lot of professionals and beginners are still getting benefit from his great work. His contributions to the woodworking field are remarkable. 

There are other traces of woodworking found from the relics of Greek and Japanese civilizations as well. All of these, all together sprout the carpentry advancements and techniques, which we have got in the inheritance. And with technology revolution and innovation, we now have a more refined form of it to get benefited from.

Closing Remarks On Woodworking History

History shows the amazing contributions in the field of woodworking by people from different civilizations. The field has evolved a lot by these passing years. Most of the interesting and incredible techniques and advancements are discovered by the Egyptians. Other civilizations such as Chinese, Greeks, and Japanese added more to the services. 

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Ever since human beings came into existence, they’re benefited a lot by the natural resources. Wood is one of these gifts by nature which transferred the human living and their utilities in multiple ways. No matter what era it is, woodworking has always been serving humankind at its best. 

FAQ’s about the History of Woodworking

Who invented woodworking?

The invention of woodworking dates back to 4000 B.C. It’s not wrong if we say it’s as old as human existence itself. The initial relics of the work can be seen as the ark of Noah, then the Egyptians invented several techniques and methods which lead to further advancements in the field afterward.

Other civilizations such as Chinese, Greek, and Japanese also served in the world of carpentry a lot. By the time, it kept on evolving and further betterment can be witnessed today.

 Who was the first carpenter on earth?

Woodworking is an old practice that started back even before mankind exists. There’s evidence found from history that Adam was the first human as well as the first carpenter on the planet earth. He did all of his woodwork by himself. 

 Why is woodworking important?

Turning wood into useful things has been in the nature of humans ever since humankind came into existence. From the ancient era till date it’s been as useful as the other fields of interest.

Apart from its significance in the industrial and commercial sectors, it’s equally important to emerge a sense of creativity in children as well. By using the tools and techniques involved in carpentry, they can practice work on great projects which will help them with areas of life as well as growing up. 

This was the history of woodworking, we hope you’ve enjoyed reading it!

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