Carpentry & Joinery

Carpentry and joinery are both construction trades. In its most simplest and traditional sense, joiners ‘join’ wood in a workshop, whereas carpenters construct the building elements on-site. These craftspeople can work in many locations, for instance on construction sites, but also workshops, fitting out stores and bars, and building sets for film and television.

What is carpentry?

Carpenters need to be able to follow technical drawings and designs, and have a good understanding of maths to make measurements and work out angles. Moreover, they need a keen eye for detail and, of course, a great deal of manual dexterity. They tend to specialise in certain areas; some carpenters, for example, do a lot of bench joinery, which is making staircases, fitted furniture, doors and window frames.

Others in this industry specialise fixing. They work on building sites, either fitting staircases, floors, window and door frames, roof timbers, or putting in doors, handles and locks, cupboards and shelving. Other carpenters are experts in erecting wooden frames for houses and fixing roof structures.

Another area of carpentry work is formwork. This is a very precise line of work. Carpenters build wood structures in the shape of, say, a section of bridge or house’s foundations, into which concrete is poured. Machining is another area of carpentry and is all about cutting and preparing timber for things like frames and floorboards.

What is joinery?

A joiner is essentially someone who makes the product that a carpenter installs or repairs. Traditionally, joiners work in workshops, producing the components for carpenters to fix – the formation of various joints is made easier by the use of non-portable, powered machinery. A joiner usually produces items such as interior and exterior doors, windows, stairs, tables, bookshelves, cabinets and furniture. In shipbuilding a marine joiner might work with materials other than wood such as linoleum, fiberglass, hardware, and gaskets.

Carpentry & joinery apprenticeships

School leavers wanting to work in carpentry and joinery could do an Intermediate Apprenticeship (Level 2) in a relevant role after taking GCSEs, and then go onto an Advanced Apprenticeship (Level 3), learning the trade and earning a salary at the same time.

School leavers interested in this industry could also look at the various courses on offer at further education colleges.

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