joinery, is an Art Manual, whereby several Pieces of Wood are so fitted and Join'd together... that they shall seem one intire Piece. —Joseph Moxon, Mechanick Exercises, 1678
In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Shakespeare created the characters of the "rude mechanics," with their rudely suggestive names—among them, Bottom the weaver, Snout the tinker, and Snug the joiner. If Snug was a good joiner, his work was snug indeed.
The joiner connects pieces so that they not only fit at the moment of execution, but will continue to fit as the wood continues to move. Wood is a lively material, but joinery has evolved designs that allow it to form a stable object, such as a door or a tabletop. Still, as Shakespeare knew, there are limits to every art. In As You Like It, he wrote of the consequences of using wood that was still too close to the tree. "This fellow will but join you together as they join wainscote, then one of you shall prove a shrunk panel and, like green timber, warp, warp."
Snug was comically out of place in Oberon's forest, for joinery takes woodworking more than a few steps away from nature. Snug's work was likely undertaken at a shop in the village where he could keep his glue pots and wood, saws and mallets and chisels, and, most significant, his planes and benches. The material came to Snug the joiner already cut, and to some extent, dried.
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