This master piece is of the Compagnon François Rastoueix. Built in the early 20th century and has been

acquired in 1938 by the National Museum of Arts and Popular Traditions. Height of the piece: 47 cm

Each one of those great master pieces has a great story behind it.  It is encouraged to visit the site where the pictures are taken and read about each one of these.  Fascinating reads!

Photographs - Exposition de chefs-d'oeuvre de Compagnons à la Saline Royale d' Arc-et-Senans Octobre 2002,   source - http://erwan.levourch.pagesperso-orange.fr/chefsdoeuvre_saline1.htm
 It is only a natural order for the lower portion of these great master pieces be primarily of straight linear pieces. That is what the journeyman first learns on the Tour. These master pieces become progressively more complicated as you to look up, like the order of learning. 

   Traditionally, when the young journeyman on the Tour-de-France would arrive at a new shop to work, he would build a pair of sawhorses. He would build them for the obvious practical reasons, but to also prove to the Elder where he stands on the Tour-de-France.  The more complex he built it, the more time he’s been studying Le Trait. This would dictate to the Elder his position in the company and what level of complexity can be delegated to him. It would help the journeyman fix a suitable position in the company.

Small french trestle model

Source - http://www.folkcollection.com/spip.php?article1801

 Sawhorses or trestles, as we all know, are a very important item when we want to work. They help raise the work to a comfortable height, supports boards for sawing, used as a portable work table or a platform. Quite often built with scrap from the job site or shop and relatively simple to build. Basic in appearance and most people probably never thought that they would be able hold such beauty. 
Source - http://imagesdouvrages.free.fr/trait17.htm

A joiners saw horse

Source – http://imagesdouvrages.free.fr/trait18.htm

Source – Emile Delataille “L'art du trait pratique de charpente” premier parties
If we take a look at the great ‘epures’ in some of the Trait books, we can see how they can become complicated, very quickly. 
Source - http://compagnonnage.info/blog/blogs/blog1.php/2011/02/11/un-groupe-de-compagnons-charpentiers-a-identifier
Source - http://www.compagnons-boulangers-patissiers.com/crebesc/andre-michel-normand/
   This is where I got the inspiration from to build my master piece. I wanted to build something of this greatness. Not necessarily of this grandness, but of the complexity. I wanted to build something no one else has done before. Something that I hope, perhaps one day, someone will find the same inspiration in the piece I built that I found in the ones above.

Source - http://www.charpentiers.culture.fr/leshommes/lescompagnons/initiationetchefsd%E2%80%99oeuvre

Source - http://imagesdouvrages.free.fr/trait19.htm
A Master Piece saw horse
Source – http://les-tables-de-mr-loup.over-blog.com/article-element-declencheur-de-cette-passion-98597423.html
A Carpenters saw horse
Source - http://imagesdouvrages.free.fr/trait9.htm
Source - http://imagesdouvrages.free.fr/trait8.htm
Source -http://imagesdouvrages.free.fr/trait19.htm

Source - Unknown

Source - Unknown

Chris Hall's french trestle

Source - http://thecarpentryway.blogspot.ca/2010_01_24_archive.html
Typical job site sawhorses
Source - http://www.traditionaltimberframe.com/V1_0/index.php?mod=cours%20treteaux&ac=cours
Source - http://www.metabricoleur.com/t2969-realisation-treteaux-de-menuisier

Learn how to build one


Is this something that interests you?

Would you like to build one?


Consider taking an Art du Trait course. Either a workshop or online course.




The first French Trestle course in the Americas was held at the Marc Adam's School of Woodworking.

 For centuries, even up to the present day, journeymen build trestles.  We don’t need to look far to see the importance of trestle building. Take a look at these old photographs of youngsters on the Tour, posing with their ‘maquettes’. If you look closely, you’ll see miniature sawhorses amongst the other great pieces.
Who would have thought that the piece would end up in the Compagnons Museum in Tours, France? 




My master piece has since moved and is now on permanent exhibition at the Musée des Maîtres et Artisans du Québec,

Even on the cover of Emile Delataille’s book “L'art du trait pratique de charpente” premier partie, we can see two sawhorses.

 Chris Hall, from The Carpentry Way, has a great blog describing, step-by-step, how he built his French trestle.  The model comes straight out of the Mazerolle book.  Anyone interested to see how much effort it takes, simply visit Chris’ blog. He did a great job and in the end it looks fantastic! 

  As the journeyman progress on the Tour and with Le Trait, building a trestle becomes more complicated and acts less like a real sawhorse, that is, to be used on the job site. So to continue with the learning, the journeyman would build small tables or supports. These tables would later be used as a support for a master piece or it would be the first section built.

Source - http://imagesdouvrages.free.fr/trait8.htm
Here are a couple examples of some drawings and the respective model.
Source – Louis Mazerolle “Traite Théorique et Pratique de Charpente” Editions H.Vial

French trestles - treteaux

In 2017 I was really inspired to build another French Trestle. But this time I wanted to stick to a more classical design. I was really inspired by the photo below.

A young Aspirant's trestle

Source - http://www.metabricoleur.com/t2969-realisation-treteaux-de-menuisier

So after more then 450 hours of work I finally finished it. Here it is......

You can read a more in depth article on the building process here.

Source - Unknown

Photographs by the author

This is where the French ‘treteau’ is introduced. The direct translation of ‘treateau’ from French is trestle or sawhorse. The term ‘treteau’ is also used when the sawhorse is a piece of art or a master piece. Believe it or not, but trestles can be extremely complicated and beautiful to look at.