carpentry, trade concerned with constructing wood buildings, the wooden portions of buildings, or the temporary timberwork used during the construction of buildings. It comprises the larger and more structural aspects of woodwork, rather than the delicate assembling, which is the province of cabinetmaking and joinery. The craft dates from the earliest use of tools. Though no actual examples of carpentry survive from antiquity, many remains of the earliest known stone architecture exhibit forms that are undoubtedly imitative of still earlier constructions in wood. This is especially apparent in most Asian architecture, and certain details of Greek temples are suggestive of carpentry prototypes. Some monumental wood buildings of the 7th cent. still stand in Japan, a country where intricate, beautiful carpentry has prevailed throughout its history. In the United States, expert carpentry has existed ever since the construction of dwellings by the colonists in the first half of the 17th cent. Rough carpentry refers to the "framing" of a wood building, namely, the erection of the structural frame or skeleton composed of the vertical members, or studs, the horizontal members of foundation sills, floor joists, and the like, the inclined members, or rafters, for the roof, and the diagonal members for bracing. Finished carpentry is the setting in place, over the rough frame, of all finishing members of both exterior and interior, such as sheathing, siding, stairs, the casings of doors and windows, flooring, wainscoting, and trim. The amount of permanent carpentry required in many modern buildings has been greatly reduced by the use of such substitute materials as concrete and steel. However, the large amount of concrete used has resulted in a great increase in the amount of carpentry performed to make temporary forms in which the concrete can be cast. See centering.
See J. Capostosto, Basic Carpentry (2d ed. 1980); W. P. Spence, General Carpentry (1983); W. H. Wagner, Modern Carpentry (rev. ed. 1987).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.