槟州家具文物馆 Preserving Cultural Relics
The Penang Carpenters’ Traditional Wood Working Tools
It was the year 1985. The downturn in the global economy affected all countries, including Malaysia. Housing developments were abandoned, strikes become commonplace and unemployment was rampant. Businesses were barely surviving, and many had to close their doors for the last time. The furniture industry was one of many that had to bear the brunt of the sinking economy.
As the saying goes, when there is a will, there is a way. A few determined furniture manufacturers got together and decided to change their fate. They knew just waiting for business opportunities locally will not suffice. Venturing into international market may open up new possibilities for success.
A year later, in 1986, the government introduced the industrial blueprint to jumpstart the flagging economy. In tandem with the implementation of the industrial blueprint, the Furniture Association was intensively encouraging its members to broaden their horizons by visiting overseas furniture manufacturing exhibitions. Visits to these exhibitions not only exposed its members to unexplored potential within the industry, but also enabled its members to gain knowledge and expertise to move forward into an automated manufacturing era.
By the year 1990, the local furniture industry was ready to penetrate the international market. The Muar Furniture Association (MFA) got the ball rolling by successfully organising several exhibitions such as the 1990 Furniture Exposition for its members to gain international exposure and recognition. The investments in new manufacturing techniques and automated machinery gradually paid off as orders started pouring in from the overseas market, contributing considerably to the nation’s economy.
This furniture manufacturing revolution from the traditional method to mass manufacturing also marked the end of the traditional furniture making apprenticeship and the disappearance of the traditional carpenter’s tools.
Due to the demands of high volume furniture production, traditional hand tools were replaced by efficient and high speed machinery. The traditional wood working tools such as the Guang Dong Wood Frame Saw, Auger and Brace, Straight Line Marker and various Planers slowly faded into obscurity. Although these traditional tools were not designed for mass production capacity, they were incredibly innovative inventions that were effective and precise. Therefore, three years ago, we took it upon our Association to preserve these Penang furniture cultural relics for our future generations before these traditional tools completely disappear.
As of now, we have a collection of 98 traditional carpenter’s items comprising Wood Saw, Guang Dong Wood Frame Saw, Planer, Auger, Lu-Ban Ruler, Plumb Bob, Straight Line Marker, Gauge, Manual Grinding Machine, Chisel, Axe, Mallet and many other relics. We are on the lookout for more items such as the Beam Compass to add to our Association’s collection and save these traditional woodworking items from vanishing for eternity. We would like to take this opportunity to appeal to more members not only from the furniture industry, but also other industries to come forward and contribute more items towards this worthy cause of preserving our cultural heritage before it is too late.
In addition to our array of traditional carpenter’s tools, we also provide a collection of publications and literature related to the furniture industry such as Furniture Literary, Business Law Management, Marketing, the environment, Advertising, Design and also on Buddhism.
If you are a connoisseur of fine arts and crafts, and celebrate innovation and creativity, we would like to recommend The Illustrated Classic of Master Ban of Lu State and the Legend of Lu Ban for your perusal and reading pleasure. The Illustrated Classic of Master Ban of Lu State, written in the year 1606, among other building subjects, talks about various aspects on carpentry and building for harmonious energy flow and wealth creation. The Legend of Lu Ban is a publication that is rich in abstract content that requires deep analytical thinking, and is a perfect companion for contemplation and unravelling the mysteries of life.
传统家具工具收藏品 The Traditional Carpenter’s Tool Collection
广东木框锯 Guang Dong Wood Frame Saw
There are many varieties of the Guang Dong Saw. The usual one is used primarily for wood cutting and joints of traditional Malay houses as this saw enables the construction of a nail free joint technique, resulting in firmly secured joints that are structurally stable. The other variety of Guang Dong Wood Frame Saw is a delicate one, mainly utilised in building valley barrels for the farming industry.
板锯 (Wood Saw)
The Bent Ruler, invented by Lu-Ban, is also known as the Lu-Ban Ruler, Wen Gong Ruler or Square Ruler. It is a measuring tool for alignment of planed wood board. This tool can also be used in Feng Shui to gauge the condition of a house, whether it conveys attributes of wealth, sickness, virtue, high position, threat, harm or firm foundation. Doors, windows, altars and other unfavourable parts of the premises can be rectified to become harmonious through application of Feng Shui remedies.
大支曲尺 (L-Square Ruler)
Straight Line Marker
This tool was inspired by Lu-Ban’s mother, who helped Lu-Ban with his work by holding the other end of the straight line marker. Lu Ban eventually invented a wooden clasp to position the marker, so that he doesn’t trouble his mother. Therefore, this creation is called Mother of Lu Ban.
闭门器 (Door Closer)
吊槌(线铊) Plumb Bob
A plumb bob or a plummet is a weight with a pointed tip that is hung from a string and is used as a vertical reference line.
The traditional gauge that was used to measure linear height has been replaced by Digital Measuring Meters.
手动磨砺机 (Manual Grinding Machine)