Geometric Ornamentation by guest bloggers Truc Truong and Abigail Sales

Ever since the 16th century, carving wood has been a way for many people to express their artistic creativity. One of the ways that historic homes expressed their true and unique character was through the wood technique called fretwork. Fretwork is a decorative design done with a piece of equipment called a fretsaw. A fretsaw is useful for making small and intricate details in fine wood. The details can be seen in clocks and furniture and musical instruments as the designs are generally cut to render small intertwined patterns.


In the 19th century, fretwork gained huge popularity within the American middle class as people sought a new way to spend their leisure time. Even veterans from the Civil War were jumping on this bandwagon hobby; a prime example would be J. T. Genn of Wamego who donated dozens of his utilitarian household creations, featuring beautiful fretwork, to museums across Kansas.


A great deal of fretwork ornamentations are geometric in style. To create the