So what is a master craftsman?

Notes from my journal

Time was that a man who worked diligently to master his skills in a chosen craft applied to be accepted by the Guild as an approved workman skilled in his field. Those examining him were fellow craftsman in the Guild. The applicant would be time-served, both as an apprentice and a journeyman, and his evaluated work his Masterpiece.

What does that mean today?

Organisations calling themselves guilds rarely set standards that define a workman’s standard. I recall when a modern-day version of the Guilds was established under the title and guild shield as the Guild of Master Craftsmen not too long ago. To join as I recall meant that you had to have two fellow craftsmen in your field recommend you to the Guild. Nothing more. The Guild issued you with a logo of the guild and registered you as a member.

Establishing guild standards again

What would it mean if a creative piece was declared the goal and anyone could make the piece in a given time under the watchful eye of two other craftsmen? No paper examine, clicking boxes. Just real woodworking. There could be multiple levels of membership resulting in Master class levels. Just a thought.

4 thoughts on “So what is a master craftsman?”

  1. This is true of many disciplines – scientist, engineer and of course craftsmen. It is tough when you employ somebody who has academic qualifications when they also need practical skills to go with them. You end up hoping that the good interview and their cv hold up. I have a few engineers who completed apprenticeships and a few scientists who completed the equivalent in the NHS and they are real stars, it takes far longer for everybody else to reach their level. Guilds and professional bodies have a huge part to play today and in the future.

  2. Paul
    How would you go about getting a guild a started? I know first you would have to find other woodworker and such. Do you have any ideas to give out about this topic? Also how could you keep the me members attention? People today are always looking for the ‘What’s in it for me’.

    1. Guilds do have the me factor in there but then there is core nucleus within all groups that make it all work. That was my experience in the USA with different guilds and organisations. First of all decide what the purpose of the guild is and then develop the essentials that seem most important to that purpose. It will be good to find others who have the same values but remember that woodworkers are a diverse group with different goals and objectives, methods and aspirations. A guild can comprise all of these or can be more exclusive without hurting anyone. For instance a guild can be open to all methods of working wood or it can be more specialised. That is, hand tools methods only if the objective for the guild is to protect those traditional methods. Here in the UK is a group called the Tools and Trades History Society, TATHS who’s goal is the better understanding of tools and trades. In the US you have the Society Of Period Furniture Makers. Both groups have set goals and objectives as societies developed for the betterment of understanding.

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