Perhaps something may be said about the advantages of cabinet-making as a hobby, though really very few remarks can be necessary. It may be taken for granted that the days have gone by when the amateur workman was a rarity, for their number now is legion, and more than one periodical caters specially for them. There can be no doubt that an intelligent pursuit of any mechanical work is of benefit to the worker, not only as a change from perhaps more sedentary occupation, but as possessing intrinsic interest. The following quotation from one of our most sensible technical authors, Chas. G. Leland, may possibly put the matter in a new light to some. In his Manual of Wood-Carving he says, ' even a very little frequent employment of the mind, inventing and planning, no matter at what, stimulates all the mental faculties.' We are rather too accustomed to regard handwork as almost independent of the head, and considerably lower in the scale. When the former degenerates into purely mechanical operations there may be little ennobling in it, but in any work involving more than labour or physical strength this cannot be the case. In cabinet-making the brain and hand must work together. There is constant opportunity for thought as well as for mere manipulative skill, and therefore it is worthy of earnest study both by the amateur and the professional craftsman. The words of Carlyle's creation Teufelsdrockh are as applicable to cabinet-making as to the subject in connexion with which they were originally uttered, for' neither' in it 'does man proceed by mere accident, but the hand is ever guided on by mysterious operations of the mind.' The mind alone, though, will not give skill to the artificer; he must learn to use his hands, and, as has been said, practice is necessary, Theoretical knowledge can be acquired from books, practical skill can only be got by work. Even the former is better than none at all, for it will to some extent enable a man to discriminate between good and bad workmanship. Herein lies my answer to those who object to the general public being informed as to methods of work in any craft. The honest worker has nothing to fear from knowledge being widely diffused, for those who are able to judge of the quality of his work will be best able to appreciate its value. As for the other kind of worker, I have no sympathy with him unless he has been driven to make rubbish by sheer necessity, in which case he is to be pitied, and the best help that can be given is by showing as plainly as possible how well-constructed furniture ought to be made.
Perhaps, before closing this chapter, it may be desirable to state that chair-work is generally a distinct branch of trade, I mean even so far as the woodwork is concerned. The cabinet-maker may be able to make a chair frame, much in the same way that he could make anything required of wood, but, as a rule, he does not do so. The chair-maker and the cabinet-maker are distinct craftsmen, so that the construction of all kinds of frames for stuffing and upholstering occupies no place in the present volume, but will be treated of in another of the same series.
To those who have had any training in the workshop, many of the matters mentioned in the following pages may seem trivial and of too elementary a character. Should any readers think so, I must beg of them to remember that their advantages are not shared by all, and that a large number may have had no opportunity of acquiring practical knowledge. For their benefit, then, in order that they may profit and make use of the more advanced remarks, it has been deemed advisable to give prominence to details which are matters of common knowledge even to those who have worked only a few months under the competent guidance of practical cabinet-makers.