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Charpentiers d'Europe et d'ailleurs
Marking tools Scribe marks

Using the ground plan, carpenters scribe and cut all of the pieces that will be used in the construction. Every piece is unique and cannot be substituted for another, even if they have similar functions (such as two principal rafters). This is true even for standard-sized pieces. Even when they are industrially cut, pieces of wood have irregularities of the various joints have to take account of this.

At the worksite, confronted with a pile of wood that he or she will use, a carpenter must be able to recognise each piece and place it in the right direction

A unique mark is placed on each piece at a specific moment in the construction process. The marking system must, in theory, satisfy four requirements :
- Confronted with a pile of wood that he or she will use, a carpenter must be able to recognise each piece and place it in the right direction
- The marking system used must be easily adaptable to every type of structure that the worker will be called on to build (attic, half-timbering, bridge, etc.).
- Maximum economy must encourage the carpenter to use the minimum number of symbols. When this is the case, little effort is required to move pieces and familiarise oneself with the system.
- Carpentry work is teamwork, and the marking code must be readable by all, and thus obey certain conventions

This final rule, which is more recent, has not always been followed, because in the past there were terrible rivalries within teams of carpenters, and the top spot was a coveted position. Given this state of affairs, one can understand the words of Mathurin Jousse, from 1627: "They also have imitation or false markings, which, it is said, some use to prevent others from building the structures themselves." Examination of certain historical frameworks confirms this, with esoteric marks or ones that are in a strange order, even when they are original.

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