Thursday, 10 December 2015

Joiners (Carpenters) do most of the work building a house

We have recently had a fairly large building project on our house - nearly four months of work. And I noticed again what I have seen before; which is that Joiners (Carpenters) do most of the work - they were first to come at the beginning and last to leave at the end of the project; and present on most days - also the Foreman was a Joiner.

This would probably be taken for granted by US readers, since their houses are often timber framed and visibly clad in wood - but British houses like mine are brick/ breeze block built, or sometimes stone faced; with a double-skinned wall having air circulating through it, to prevent problems from damp. 

The building of even just part of a house is a remarkably complex process of organising specialists, who mostly come - then go. There were men who made the foundations, bricklayers, roofers, the plumber, the electrician, plasterers, painters; and a specialist who laid the wooden floor. 

In a sense the work of the other specialist builders was more obvious than the Joiners - whose work was often hidden, or simple taken for granted - but clearly they were the spine around which all the other artisans fitted - which was presumably why the Foreman was a Joiner.

My interest is partly because my Father used to assist Joiners when he was young, as holiday work - he then became a woodwork teacher, later retraining as a dentist - eventually a Professor, Chair and Dean of the Edinburgh Dental School. He was often doing woodwork - especially making furniture - during my childhood. In extreme old age he retains a love of wood, especially fine joinery, and passed this appreciation (but not the aptitude) on to me in part; I can recognise several of the commoner type of wood, which most people can't - and appreciate workmanship - so I am pleased to know that this ancient craft retains such a central role in the building of modern houses.