Custom made joinery is certainly not a dying art, although it is true that technology has replaced many jobs a joiner would do. So just what is custom made joinery? The process of joinery is a very specialized type of carpentry. Basically a joiner would build items like cabinets, bookcases, window frames and windows, staircases and any other bespoke items by joining wood without the use of nails and usually without the use of glue.
So how is custom made joinery different to the woodwork a carpenter would do? A carpenter will use nails to fit wood and the skill of carpentry is generally considered less skillful than custom made joinery. Usually custom made joinery products are sturdier, more impressive and take longer to make due to the craftsmanship involved.
One would think most people would opt for the cheaper and faster method of carpentry to complete their building project but this is not always the case. Most people actually appreciate beautifully skilled work and will usually employ a joiner to custom make certain aspects of the build. The use of custom joinery is not always obvious but it always gives a beautiful, seamless finish.
Sometimes custom made joinery loosely refers to woodwork and cabinetry that has been custom made to certain specifications. Strictly speaking this is not quite the same as true joinery so it is wise to ask your designer just what processes will be used when customizing the project to meet your specifications. In kitchen and bathroom designs it is quite common to see true custom made joinery methods used, but once again check with your designer. If you hear your designer using terms such as dovetail joins, biscuit joins, mitered butt joint, tongue and groove joint or even a pocket joint, then you know your designer is using terms that refer to true joinery.
A great way to educate yourself about joinery is to go and have a look at some kitchen and bathroom showrooms. Here you should be able to see some examples of true joinery. The salesperson should also be able to point out some of the different joins used in custom made joinery. As you develop a more expert eye for custom joinery you may find visiting display homes useful. Custom made joinery is often used for TV cabinets and shelving, especially where the architect is after a seamless finish.
Fortunately for joiners the art of custom made joinery looks like it will be preserved well into the future as discerning buyers demand seamless finishes.