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Peter Nathan Sprengel

Translated from the German by Kaare Loftheim



Chapter V.
The chairmaker bears the name in common with English chairmakers presumably because his trade is originally transplanted from England to Germany, or because several types of chairs that are made in his workshop have been common first in England. In the making of chairs, the settee (Canape), and sofa, he wields not only the plane and other tools of the cabinetmaker, but also like the cartwright, the hatchet (Handbeil) and the drawknife (Schneidemesser).
Part I.  
In most regions, and especially in the German coastal cities, chairmakers make their chairs out of red beech wood, in Magdeburg out of linden wood, and in Berlin out of serviceberry wood (Elsenholz). Red beech is lacking in our area, and the cabinetmaker, who before the arrival to Berlin of chairmakers that made wooden chair frames, chose therefore serviceberry wood in place of red beech. Likewise the chairmakers, when they arrived in Berlin, found that circumstances also compelled them to build their chairs out of serviceberry wood. If the customer explicitly requires it, and will pay especially for it, they sometimes build chairs out of walnut, plum wood, pearwood, and mahogany wood, and for very distinguished and wealthy persons out of cedarwood. The chairmaker obtains the serviceberry wood partly in boards that are one to five inches thick and partly in logs. The farmer in the [town of] Mark Brandenburg brings this wood, partly in logs and also in boards, to Berlin to sell, but the strongest and best comes from Poland. If the wood has not sufficiently dried when purchased by the chairmaker it must stay some time longer and properly dry. When the tenons of a chair that is made from green wood dry, the chair becomes so unstable that it can neither be wedged tightly or glued.