With any speciality there is always a unique set of vocabulary that one must learn in order to sound intelligent and in the know. Chairmaking is not immune from the infection of jargonese. In fact because it is such an old craft the myriad of strange words is legion. Reaming, riving, scorps and adzes. Rails and stiles, rungs and spindles – which is which?
Perhaps one of the most beloved of these strange words is the term – bodger. Getting a decisive definition is an impossible task but Rachel Reynolds does an admiral job in her article “A Bodger is not a Botcher”. While the term has murky origins it seems in recent years to have adopted a modern meaning that may stick for a while. It now refers to green woodworkers who use pole lathes to fashion items out of wood, often chair parts.
As fascinating as word origins may be I need something more to really get excited about a word. Bodger is one of the words that I can get really excited about because I discovered I have a personal connection with it. That’s right. I’m about to add another layer of mystery to the word. My last name is Godber. Godber is an old Anglo Saxon name with deep roots in the British Isles. If you were to rearrange the letters in my last name one of the combinations you would arrive at is bodger. That’s right. My name is actually an anagram.
Godber-bodger. Now the question must be asked is bodger not perhaps an anagram for Godber. Or were my ancestors perhaps part of a secret guild of green woodworking chair makers who hid their true identity behind a clever anagram. I like the intrigue of that idea. I also like the idea that I am once again shouldering the mantle of a green woodworking, pole lathe using chair maker. Sometimes a name just makes sense!