While visiting with Hardwood Publishing, which has launched a new wood contracts trading system, I was surprised to when I saw the volume of cherry wood exports from the U.S. After China, Canada and Brazil, up popped Egypt as number four in volume at that moment in time.

 Ancient Egyptian wood furniture style (above) and contemporary
influence in Scandinavian design (below) by Ole Wanscher.
 Egyptian influence in a wood stool in contemporary
Scandinavian design  by Ole Wanscher.


Ancient Egyptians anticipated or, more properly, originated the techniques in furniture

 CNC wood machining and hand carving at Asal

construction in use today, such as mortise-and-tenon in the production of chairs and tables.

Wooden sculptures, placed in the graves of aristocrats from the Middle Kingdom period, even portray ancient carpenters and joiners at work, as do wall paintings in historic grave sites. The wood objects are rare among ancient artifacts, having survived the centuries, say experts, because of the dry conditions found in the Egyptian desert.

Author Geoffrey Killen's“Egyptian Woodworking and Furniture," describes the range of wood species Egyptian woodworkers used in their projects, fashioning lumber with awls, chisels, saws and planes, and in mitering joints.

“Probably the earliest imported timber to be used was cedar, Cedrus libani." Killen writes. "Large quantities were imported into Egypt from Lebanon." .During the reign of the Fourth Dynasty Pharoah Senferu, it is reported that 40 ships were dispatched to the Syrian coast, where Egyptians felled trees, then towed the logs home for use by carpenters and joiners.

But the legacy of Egyptian wood manufacturing is alive and well, and will survive the political turmoil intact.The 300-employee Asal Furniture in the port city Damietta, handcrafts reproductions of French furniture, employing dozens of subcontractor family workshops in producing its output.

Asal Furniture, established fifty years ago, exports classic, antique and hotel furniture to more than 27 countries, and is seen in showrooms in Europe, U.S. and Middle East. "We import French beech wood from France and Yugoslavia, dry it in our factory according to universal standards from 8% to 12% humidity, and import glue from Italy," says the company's website.

"We are known for creating classic, antique bedroom, occasional, accent and hotel furniture. We are also capable of executing furniture designs specified by clients." Three manufacturing plants total about 150,000 square feet.

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