AskDefine | Define cabinetmaking

Dictionary Definition

cabinetmaking n : the craft of a joiner [syn: joinery]

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


  1. The art of the cabinetmaker

Extensive Definition

Cabinet making is the practice of utilizing various woodworking skills to create cabinets, shelving and furniture.
Cabinet making involves techniques such as creating appropriate joints, shelving systems, the use of finishing tools such as routers to create decorative edgings, and so on.


Before the advent of industrial design cabinet makers were responsible for the conception and the production of any piece of furniture. In the last half of the 18th century, cabinet makers such as Thomas Sheraton, Thomas Chippendale and George Hepplewhite also published books of furniture forms. These books were compendiums of their designs and those of other cabinet makers.
With the industrial revolution and the application of steam (through rod and belt devices) and electrical power to cabinet making tools, mass production techniques were gradually applied to nearly all aspects of cabinet making, and the traditional cabinet shop ceased to be the main source of furniture, domestic or commercial. In parallel to this evolution there came a growing demand by the rising middle class in most industrialised countries for finely made furniture. This eventually resulted in a growth in the total number of traditional cabinet makers.
The arts and craft movement which started in the United Kingdom in the middle of the 19th century spurred a market for traditional cabinet making, and other craft goods. It rapidly spread to the United States and to all the countries in the British empire. This movement exemplified the reaction to the eclectic historicism of the Victorian era and to the 'soulless' machine-made production which was starting to become widespread.
After World War II woodworking became a popular hobby among the middle classes. The more serious and skilled amateurs in this field now turn out pieces of furniture which rival the work of professional cabinet makers. Together, their work now represents but a small percentage of furniture production in any industrial country, but their numbers are vastly greater than those of their counterparts in the 18th century and before.

Types of cabinetry

The fundamental focus of the cabinet maker is the production of cabinetry. Although the cabinet maker may also be required to produce items that would not be recognised as cabinets, the same skills and techniques apply.
A cabinet may be built-in or free-standing. A built-in cabinet is usually custom made for a particular situation and it is fixed into position, on a floor, against a wall, or framed in an opening. For example modern kitchens are examples of built-in cabinetry. Free-standing cabinets are more commonly available as off-the-shelf items and can be moved from place to place if required. Cabinets may be wall hung or suspended from the ceiling.
Cabinets may have a face frame or may be of frameless construction (also known as European or euro-style). Modern cabinetry is often frameless and is typically constructed from man-made sheet materials, such as plywood, chipboard or MDF. The visible surfaces of these materials are usually clad in a timber veneer, plastic laminate, or other material. They may also be painted.

Cabinet components



  • Ernest Joyce (1970). Encyclopedia of Furniture Making. Revised and expanded by Alan Peters (1987). Sterling Publishing. ISBN 0-8069-6440-5 (Original edition), ISBN 0-8069-7142-8 (Paperback)
  • John L. Feirer (1988). Cabinetmaking and Millwork, Fifth Edition. Glencoe Publishing Company. ISBN 0-02-675950-0
cabinetmaking in Catalan: Ebenisteria
cabinetmaking in Danish: Møbelsnedker
cabinetmaking in German: Tischler
cabinetmaking in Esperanto: Lignaĵisto
cabinetmaking in French: Ébéniste
cabinetmaking in Luxembourgish: Schräiner
cabinetmaking in Dutch: Meubelmaker
cabinetmaking in Occitan (post 1500): Ebenistariá
cabinetmaking in Swedish: Ebenist
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