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Joiners worked on furniture on ships and shore establishments. Originally they worked exclusively in wood. Furniture built from laminated plastics, aluminium and metal was increasingly common by the 1970s. So over the twentieth century the joiners shop adapted to continue making furniture in these new materials. The joiners also had a responsibility for the upholstery work on ships.

Two joiners making furniture
Two joiners making furniture (PRDHT)

The joiners' role was different to shipwrights but the demarcation between the two trades is blurred. Joiners normally handled all the furniture in the wardrooms and officer cabins. Shipwrights normally worked on the rest of the furniture. A general rule used was any woodwork requiring French polishing was part of the joiner's domain. The shipwrights worked on the rest of the furniture which was either varnished or painted furniture. Although not always adhered, it was the rule most people accepted.

Dovetail kit
Dovetail kit (PRDHT)

By the 1970s joiners were working on fitting metal furniture. They didn't actually make the metal furniture, the shipwrights in the light plate shop always made this, but they did handle a lot of metal work. Joiners had different types of machinery, which could create joints, polish and sand wood. Joiners also worked in different types of wood to shipwrights; they often worked with more exotic wood.

Joiner working on a bar
Joiner working on a bar (BDFL)

Within the joiners shop were some specialisms. As part of the joiner's department there was the French polishing shop. Another section of the joiners shop worked on upholstery. The joiners covered seats, made cushions and upholstered mattresses.

Joiner working on upholstery
Joiner working on upholstery (BDFL)