The “Ace” of All Trades

One hundred years ago, when my Grandfather was just finishing his apprenticeship, most of the world’s population still lived in rural surroundings.  Unless the young craftsman was headed for the city, where specialization was common, he was likely to be engaged in all types of work that were based on working with wood.

On any given day the rural carpenter might lead a team of neighbors in building a barn or house, repair a wagon, build a gate, create a dower chest, spend time above or within the saw pit.  He might build falsework to support the masonry on the new bridge across the creek.  He might build a new sluice at the mill or provide a new bull gear.  In short, the rural carpenter was a central figure in the community.  His importance to rural life cannot be understated.  The master carpenter was surely seen as a steward of arcane knowledge that was vital to the general well-being of the community.  And as I heard more than once, “sure, wasn’t Jesus Christ, his’self, a carpenter?  And St. Joseph, as well”.

Here are a few reminders of what a carpenter’s day might have included in years gone by.

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