How to become a carpenter

Wood is one of the most ancient and favorite building and ornamental materials of mankind. From wood people built houses, churches, made furniture and dishes, household items, and tools. It would seem that anyone can work with wood. In practice, most often it happens that a person decides to trim the legs of the stool, and eventually cuts off everything. That’s why if we need to make something out of wood, we turn to a wood specialist – a carpenter.

It should be noted that quite often the profession of a carpenter is confused with a related profession of a woodworker. These are two fundamentally different professions: if to speak figuratively, the carpenter builds houses, and the woodworker handles interior items (in other words, the work of the woodworker is more delicate and elegant). Also, the profession of a carpenter has several features, because of which not everyone can master it at the proper level. What are these features? You can learn about how to become a carpenter right now.

What does a carpenter do

A carpenter is a highly skilled worker, master, and craftsman who makes and sharpens wood or wood-based products with the possible use of laminating or veneering.

The name of the profession comes from the Polish stolarz (table). This may indicate that in the 18th century when the profession of carpenter emerged as a separate field of activity, such craftsmen specialized in the production of furniture only. Let us mention at once that it is impossible to consider the 18th century as the date of formation of this profession, so it appeared in ancient times when a man understood – wood, it is an excellent material not only for maintaining the flame in the hearth but also for the manufacture of various objects and things.

The sphere of activity of modern carpenters has considerably expanded in comparison with the 18th century. Today, these craftsmen make complex furniture, doors, windows, stairs, cornices, skirting boards, arches, wooden elements of sea and airplanes, micromodels on a wooden base, etc. If you list the main professional duties of a carpenter, they will look approximately as follows:

  • woodworking jobs;
  • manufacturing and restoration of furniture;
  • installation and installation of window openings, doors;
  • insertion of locks, handles;
  • repair of wooden parts;
  • installation of built-in furniture;
  • grinding and polishing of wood;
  • manufacturing of small items from wood: from sports equipment to wooden caskets;
  • carpentry work with different fasteners, paints, and varnishes.

That is, the carpenter is a specialist of a wide profile, who carries out all the stages of manufacturing wooden items in person: from the choice of blank and material to the final finishing of finished products. The expansion of the field of application of work of the carpenter has led to narrow specializations within the profession:

  • carpenters that  make and repair furniture (including antique furniture);
  • carpenters working on construction sites – specialize in interior decoration of the house, manufacturing, and installation of windows, doors, built-in furniture. Carpenters at ship- and aircraft plants, by the way, do the same;
  • carpenters who make musical instruments – the most famous of “musical” carpenters – Antonio Stradivari.

By the way, the secret of the famous Stradivarius violins has not been revealed yet, so young specialists have every chance to unravel it and thus to write their name in history.

In the old days, wood was one of the most popular materials for making a variety of products. But, as in many cases, everything depends on the craftsmanship of the manufacturer – whether it is an unsightly chair or an elegant frame that will survive several centuries. Even today, when many production processes are automated, the work of a professional carpenter is still highly valued.

Professions related to woodworking have been valued since ancient times. Which is not surprising, as it used to be a basic building material. Nowadays, of course, it has been squeezed out by much more economical, practical, and durable raw materials (reinforced concrete, steel, brick, and stone). However, wood still has many more applications. It is valued for its eco-friendliness, ease of processing, and aesthetic qualities. This is why carpenters are not going anywhere and are unlikely to be out of work in the coming years. 

What personal qualities do you need to become a carpenter?

A carpenter differs from a carpenter in that he makes relatively small items. They can be both furniture items and elements of furniture fittings, dishes, household items, stairs, doors. The most skilled carpenters are engaged in the manufacture of musical instruments and wooden jewelry. Whatever type of products or specialized carpenter, he must be able to work with drawings and sketches. As a rule, he receives them from the customer, but sometimes the carpenter has to make them himself. At first, the carpenter makes preparations for the future product. As a rule, he darts them out and cuts them out of solid pieces of wood. The carpenter then assembles the parts by gluing them together. To perform all these manipulations, he must have good coordination and an eye meter. In his work, the carpenter must be as careful and attentive as possible, since wood is a material that can be easily spoilt.

Almost the whole working day a carpenter spends on his feet, so good health and endurance is the key to the successful development of professional qualities of the master. In this case, the work of a carpenter is one of the most traumatic. His tools: planes, saws, axes – require careful attitude and strict compliance with safety regulations, so responsibility, attentiveness, high concentration, and accuracy – are essential personal qualities of a true professional. Besides, because it is also a creative profession, the master must have such personal qualities as:

  • an accurate eye;
  • good thinking;
  • a sense of beauty, composition, and proportions;
  • the ability to distinguish not only colors but also the smallest shades of them;
  • neatness;
  • creativity;
  • patience;
  • responsibility;
  • meticulousness;
  • advanced movement coordination.

Also, a carpenter must have extensive knowledge. He must understand the difference in the wood species (e.g. white, softer, and red, harder and more expensive), determine the quality of the workpiece, and choose the most suitable one for each case. This is especially important for those who work with furniture or musical instruments. Carpenters also need to know the chemical composition of glue and paintwork materials. Among other things, the carpenter needs to be able to read drawings, and a high-class master – and develop them.

Benefits of the carpenter’s profession 

Since the carpenter’s profession is one of the working professions, the shortage of which is felt today more acute than ever, its main advantage, of course, can be called demand. And such specialists are in demand everywhere: on construction sites, furniture production, shipbuilding, etc. Therefore, the diploma of the carpenter guarantees trouble-free employment in the specialty and quite a decent level of payment (the average monthly salary of a carpenter in Russia today is about 40-50 thousand rubles).

One more advantage of a profession of the carpenter can be considered the big possibilities for additional earnings. The tool at the carpenter is not complicated (a saw, a hammer, a jigsaw, screwdrivers, pliers, etc.) and accessible in the acquisition, and to carry it too it is simple enough. To find customers, it is enough to place ads once, for example, in the newspaper or on the Internet resource, and therefore already earn “sundered radio” and there will be regular customers who need to pull furniture, fix the sofa, restore grandma’s chest of drawers or rebuild the wardrobe.

It is also worth noting that in Russia, the profession of a carpenter from ancient times used to be honored and respected. Good masters were revered no less than crowned persons. Because after many years of “reign” of wood products of mass production in modern society again began to appreciate individually carved furniture, unique elements of decoration and original items of the interior made of wood carpenters, as before, took their rightful place in society.

Disadvantages of the carpenter’s profession 

The disadvantages of carpenter’s profession are directly related to the working conditions. A carpenter works with tools that can cause serious injury if handled carelessly. Waste materials (chips and chips) can also hurt a professional. An even bigger problem is the varnish, paint, and glue that professional deals with while working. Their toxic fumes can cause poisoning, allergies, and respiratory problems.

Also, the carpentry workshop is constant noise and vibration, which can cause a professional to have hearing loss and nervous system diseases. Therefore, the carpenter has to work not only in working clothes and safety glasses but also in earplugs. Agree, when it is hot outside it is not very comfortable to work in such clothes.

Special features of the profession

In kinship with the carpentry profession – the profession of carpenter. But carpentry is thinner than carpentry. A carpenter can build a house, and a carpenter can build everything that’s inside. The level of qualification of a carpenter is indicated by a category. The highest level is 6. The simplest works: selection, sorting of lumber, preparation of bars, etc. – belong to 2-3 discharges. The carpenter of 4 digits makes and collects objects of rectangular form. Workers of 6 categories make, install and restore particularly complex-shaped and sculpted handrails, skirting boards, casings, etc.

  • The carpenter can specialize in a certain direction. For example, in the manufacture of furniture, windows, doors, stairs, musical instruments, etc. The carpenter may specialize in a certain direction.
  • Among the carpenters of furniture is a small group of cabinetmakers. They construct new furniture, restore the old one, carry out individual orders.
  • A ship carpenter sets and fixes furniture on ships.
  • Carpenter construction is engaged in the decoration of houses.
  • Carpenter for the manufacture and repair of musical instruments saws azures and contours of parts, components.

When working on a product, a qualified carpenter relies on a sketch and drawing (which he develops himself or receives from the designer/customer). He then selects the right lumber for the job, makes the workpieces, and turns them into parts. By connecting them, he receives the finished product.

Depending on his specialization, the joiner works outdoors or indoors. Sometimes – at high altitude (carpenters-constructors). In this case, the master has to saw, sharpen, glue, etc. In this case, he uses a workbench, circular saw, hacksaw, ax, hammer, planes, and many other tools and materials. Working with them requires skill and compliance with safety regulations. Not doing so can lead to injuries (mainly injuries to the limbs, eyes) and occupational diseases.

A carpenter has to breathe in lacquers, paints, and wood dust. Some tools create strong noise and vibration. All of this can cause occupational diseases: respiratory diseases, spinal diseases, hearing loss (in carpenters). Fortunately, all this can be avoided if you keep an eye on the comfort of your workplace, use safety goggles, mask, earplugs, etc., as well as alternate work with active rest, sports. Many carpenters work successfully until old age.


Carpenters work at enterprises of the woodworking, wood, wood chemical industry, at the construction and repair enterprises, shipbuilding and ship repair enterprises, in administrative and economic departments of organizations and establishments. If you have good qualifications, you can work individually.

Important qualities

The propensity to work with hands, artistic taste, developed eye, spatial imagination, correct color perception, good vision and hearing, coordination of movements, accuracy, attentiveness, balance.

Diseases accompanied by loss of consciousness, rheumatic diseases, skin diseases, impaired coordination of movements can be considered contraindications for carpentry work.

However, some operations (sawing, planing, polishing small parts, adjusting the knots, fastening to small table equipment with hand and power tools) may be performed by people with limited mobility of legs.

Knowledge and carpentry skills

A carpenter needs to be able to “read” drawings and sketches. The carpenter, working individually, should be able to make sketches and drawings of future products independently. You need to know the properties of wood, know how to process it, how to make, fit, and hang carpentry.

Where can I learn carpentry?

There are several ways to acquire the profession of a carpenter. First, you can enroll as an apprentice in production, and master the basics of the profession under the guidance of an experienced master. Secondly, you can enter a specialized carpentry school or college, based on which qualified carpenters are trained. If you want to become a cabinetmaker of the highest class, you need to combine both methods of obtaining this profession. That is, finish vocational school, and then get a job as an apprentice to an experienced master.

Note that it is very difficult to become a really good master without professional education. And above all, because educational institutions provide an excellent theoretical basis, thanks to which practical experience is learned much better and faster. Also, the diploma inspires greater confidence in employers and thus increases the chances of successful employment. 

Another option for acquiring skills and knowledge in the carpentry trade is in-service training. In other words, if you want to become a carpenter, you get a job at a company where you are placed as an apprentice to a more experienced colleague who teaches you to read drawings, navigate through wood types, and use carpentry equipment. At the same time, it should be borne in mind that not every organization will take on the challenge of training a young professional. They prefer to take either carpenter with work experience or at least with specialized education. Also, you can learn carpentry from special courses that exist at educational centers. The main advantage of this type of education is that the centers have many options for forms of education. Carpenters have wide opportunities for development in the chosen industry, as well as prospects for career growth. Thus, they can attend training courses, learn new work techniques, and thus increase their level. Or he can follow the management line. For example, upon reaching the highest category, a carpenter may apply for a position of foreman. Besides, the specialist may go to higher education to become a master, engineer, or foreman.

Carpenter salary

The average hourly pay for a Carpenter is $20.29. So if you are interested in how much do carpenters make – they pay is pretty good. Moreover, carpenters make good money selling their masterpieces on Etsy and similar services.

Julia Simon: “Woodworking is my second passion. I’m going to be a carpenter after my career.” 

French biathlete Julia Simon told how she spends her time free from the early end of the season.

“I’m in the carpentry business. I have quite a few projects, including a coffee table for my coach.

Woodworking is my second passion. By the way, I’m going to be a carpenter after my career,” Simon said.

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