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Historical References on Architectural Joinery?

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Jelly

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Is there a good reference source or sources on the appearance (good) and/or construction (great) of british architectural joinery over time?

After wondering about the history of the pleasingly simple and clean looking "One over Three" paneled door design which is frequently associated with 1920's and 1930's construction, and realised that I couldn't find a good reference source on the history of architectural joinery over time.

I've got electronic copies of Nicholson and Tredgold's "Practical Carpentry and Joinery" and Riley's "A Manual of Carpentry and Joinery", which are both excellent references, but both only reflect the practices and styles of the Victorian and Edwardian era which is only a narrow sliver of the history of making key components of buildings from wood.

I thought I was on to something with Eastwick's "The Design and Practice of Joinery" published by RIBA, unfortunately having got a copy, it turns out to be mainly appraising architects of the techniques and working practices of joiners, so they can avoid designing unfeasible items, or specifying too loosely and getting something wildly different from client expectations.
 

AndyT

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That's a good question.

I can't immediately think of anything.

Looking at more general books, the rather old "Pattern of English Building" by Alec Clifton-Taylor ought to cover it, as it's organised by materials, but the chapter on wood only looks at structural carpentry and external cladding.

For a narrower period, James Ayres' book "Building the Georgian City" is very good. Unusually, it covers the organisation of the trades and the tools they used, not just the fashions. The chapter on Joinery is only about 20 pages of a 250 page book and is mostly about sash windows. There is a bit more on forestry and carpentry though.

I think the trouble is that it's a vast subject, so any treatment will either be superficial or very specialised.

It's frustrating though, when the joinery of an old building is so much more relatable to than the rest of its construction.
 

Trevanion

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Cassell’s Carpentry and Joinery by Paul Hasluck (Available in the public domain)

Practical Carpentry and Joinery by George Ellis

Joinery and Carpentry Volume II by Richard Greenhalgh

A Rudimentary Treatise of Carpentry and Joinery by Rodison and Tredgold
 

bjm

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Might be worth contacting City and Guilds, tell them you're researching it?
 

Jelly

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For a narrower period, James Ayres' book "Building the Georgian City" is very good. Unusually, it covers the organisation of the trades and the tools they used, not just the fashions. The chapter on Joinery is only about 20 pages of a 250 page book and is mostly about sash windows. There is a bit more on forestry and carpentry though.
This sounds like it would be of great interest to me generally, but not so much in my early 20th century door-related curiosity.

I think the trouble is that it's a vast subject, so any treatment will either be superficial or very specialised.
Very much so, I suspect it's a subject where with so much primary information still around it's escaped serious scholarship.



Might be worth contacting City and Guilds, tell them you're researching it?
This is a good point I hadn't thought of, and if they don't directly then the Livery Companies (the Worshipful Company of Carpenters, & the Worshipful Company of Joiners and Ceilers) themselves might have archives of use in this.

Following the same vein, Leeds College of Building and the Building Crafts College are probably worth approaching for this kind of thing... Any other suggestions?
 

Trevanion

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Ah, I've misunderstood the question! 🤦‍♂️

I don't really know of any comprehensive texts that go over the total history of joinery, I don't even believe there's a hell of a lot written about Joinery prior to say, 1800 or so (Which may be due to lack of literacy amongst craftsmen, or protective of trade secrets passed through generations) and Tredgold was one of the earliest writers on the subject. Really, there does seem to be a bit of a gap in history from "Holes in the wall" to "Double-hung boxed sash windows".

I'd recommend picking up Joinery and Carpentry Volume 2 by Richard Greenhalgh (It was actually written by Thomas Corkhill) which is a 1930-40 book that covers traditional doors and windows very comprehensively. Just make sure you buy VOLUME 2 so you don't end up picking up a book about shipbuilding and bank furnishings 😁
 

Bm101

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I've heard that rumour!
Theres ways around it nowadays mind. Not totally of course.
Just enough to disguise the problem... moooostly.
 

Trevanion

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You may have heard some vicious rumours about me, I can assure you they are all quite true.
 

Bristol_Rob

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Places I'd research would be:
RIBA
TRADA
English Heritage
City & Guilds
RICS (Library)
SPAB
Chris Schwarz @ Lost Art Press
 

pgbr

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Is there a good reference source or sources on the appearance (good) and/or construction (great) of british architectural joinery over time?

After wondering about the history of the pleasingly simple and clean looking "One over Three" paneled door design which is frequently associated with 1920's and 1930's construction, and realised that I couldn't find a good reference source on the history of architectural joinery over time.

I've got electronic copies of Nicholson and Tredgold's "Practical Carpentry and Joinery" and Riley's "A Manual of Carpentry and Joinery", which are both excellent references, but both only reflect the practices and styles of the Victorian and Edwardian era which is only a narrow sliver of the history of making key components of buildings from wood.

I thought I was on to something with Eastwick's "The Design and Practice of Joinery" published by RIBA, unfortunately having got a copy, it turns out to be mainly appraising architects of the techniques and working practices of joiners, so they can avoid designing unfeasible items, or specifying too loosely and getting something wildly different from client expectations.
I have a book by Cecil A Hewett, English Historic Carpentry.
ISBN 0 85033 354 7. 1980. 338 pages.
There are many skeletal drawings of old buildings, diagrams of various joints, a Glossary and appendix. I don’t know if it’s still in print or available.
 

MikeG.

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Hewett's is a superb book, but from memory it only covers the period up to about 1700, and much of it on framing techniques.
 

mark_n

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The Weald and Downland museum might be able to help. They have a library, and restoration experts there.
 

AndyT

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Here's a thought. For a specialised subject like the development of windows in early 20th century England, rather than a book, someone's research study might be what you need.

The British Library holds a big, public collection of theses, available online, for no charge.

I had a very quick look, searching for "windows" and pausing only to briefly curse Bill Gates, found this on the second page of results:


Not what you want, but getting warm!

Start here to do your own search:

 

AndyT

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Another potential source is Historic England. They produce research papers and general guides on a wide range of subjects in the built environment. When a publication is unavailable in print form, they offer it as a free download instead.

They have some stuff about energy conservation in old windows but probably more besides.

They also have a database of research studies.

Start here

 
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