Andre Roubo's landmark five-volume “L'Art Du Menuisier” is difficult to find – reprints are available mostly in Europe and at Tools for Working. «L'art du menuisier». Work practices of french joiners and cabinet-makers in the eighteenth century., p. Partant des quatre volumes d'André-Jacob. L'art du menuisier, Premiere Index. Éléments de géométrie. Des li Index · Éléments de géométrie. Des su Index. Mesures des lignes, des surfa Index.


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It was work that gave all the meaning to the craftsmen's life. For them work was a form of life. The dignity that was claimed for work, in the cases where it was craftsmanlike and guided by guild tradition, is expressed in the very terms which were used l art du menuisier define it.

Accordingly Roubo regarded his craft as art and called his book L'art du menuisier. This process, it is assumed, symbolises perfectibility and is instrumental to human self-realisation.

L'art du menuisier

Time and again Roubo begins his disquisition by enumerating the qualities that make for the perfect menuisier. Roughly l art du menuisier years after the cataclysm of the French revolution it was still the precision of work, according to the joiner journeyman Agricol Perdiguier, singer and poet of the journeymen's movement, by which an honest, proper master artisan would be recognized.

Of all branches of joinery it is ebanisterie, i. This is why Roubo prefers to call him an "artiste".

For he needs not only a great deal of practical experience, but a vast amount of theoretical knowledge as well. La teinture des bois demande aussi quelques notions de chimie pour la composition l art du menuisier ces teintures.

Roubo's claims surely extended beyond the actual knowledge most of his companions could be said to have mastered, as wille presently be explained, and outbid the demands of customary craftsmanship.

Having claimed the most comprehensive knowledge for a proper exercise of his craft, L art du menuisier proceeds to a detailed description of its working methods, its tools, and materials. In most cases these are shown in parallel illustrations.

While trying to render his description as precise as possible, he endeavours to reduce the number of designations for one and the same object or process15, thus complying with the postulate by the encyclopaedists for an exact definition of things.

This can easily be exemplified by a random list of passages from his work. Roubo's description of tools, like the wooden boring machine vilbre- quinis a characteristic instance of the precision and synthesis he was able to apply to a given object.

The depiction of the various sawing processes is a interesting case in point, as the increasing division of labour went hand in hand with the more explicit differentiation of social standing within the joiners' profession: Payment, again, was different from l art du menuisier standards applied in the rest of ebanisterie.

Even more striking was the differentiation in cleave sawing, a hard and badly paid job, which most menuisiers liked to delegate to workmen.


During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the joiners' craftsmanship became an ever widening spectrum of operational procedure. It reflected the growing demands from the market-place, while at the same time mirroring the craftsmen's interest to secure a moderate income through steady job-differentiation.

Andre J. Roubo: Translation of “L’Art Du Menuisier” | Lost Art Press

The constant increase of menuiseries in numbers and in manufacturing domains produced yet another differentiation within these two branches. Eventually five sub-groups came to be distinguished in Roubo's time. The classification in l art du menuisier "Dictionnaire universel de police" edited by Desessarts in closely follows the one Roubo had laid down: The former differed from the carpenters in that they, as a matter of principle, would only use l art du menuisier wood, which was already cut and planed, whereas the carpenters would dispose of damp and unplaned wood in any quantity.

The "menuisiers en carosse" built coach bodies, the "menuisiers en meubles" produced non-veneered wardrobes, chest of drawers, as well as armchairs, chairs and beds.