It was in an ordinance issued by the Provost of Paris, Jacques d’Estouville, in the last quarter of the 15th century that the term “joiner” first appeared, used without any other name. It was attributed to those whose principal trade was making furniture and fitting out the interior of dwellings.
It was from this moment that the joiners’ guild was separated from the carpenters’ guild and the trade came into its own. During the 14th and 15th centuries, this trade was responsible for a great many works, some of which have been handed down to us, and which, in addition to displaying the craftsmen’s skill, demonstrate real design proficiency and thorough knowledge of wood, its properties and its behaviour in various applications.
Most of the joints we use today were used as far back as the 15th century.
Back then, a clear distinction was made between the various specialisations:
– Carpenters who specialised in the use of wood for fitting out interiors: door frames, parquet flooring, various types of panelling and so on
– Joiners who specialised in furniture.
It was also from working with ebony that the French name menuisier en ébène (ebony joiner) was coined, later simplified to ébéniste (cabinetmaker).