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How to become a Carpenter/Joiner

carpenter/joiner careers

What does a Carpenter/Joiner do?

Carpenters and joiners make and install wooden structures, fixtures and fittings, which are used in a wide variety of construction projects. Jobs can range from fitting floorboards, skirting, window frames and doors in a domestic household to fixing roof trusses and partitions on a commercial project. They can also build up shop fronts, construct storage and shelving for retail outlets and prepare wooden casements to support setting concrete in structures such as bridges or foundation pillars.

Carpenters and joiners use a range of hand and power tools depending on the scale and type of work. The type of work normally falls into one of the categories below; they may use their skills across the whole range, or specialise in just one or two:

  • formwork - making temporary wooden structures to support and shape concrete until set
  • machining - preparing and shaping timber for floorboards, skirting boards and window frames (see Wood Machinist profile)
  • bench joinery - preparing and assembling doors, window frames, staircases and fitted furniture for buildings
  • first fixing (site work) - constructing the basic wooden structures of a building such as floor and roof joists, roof timbers, floorboards, staircases, partition walls, and door and window frames
  • second fixing (site work) - installing skirting boards, door surrounds, doors, cupboards and shelving, as well as door handles and locks
  • shopfitting - producing and fitting interiors for shops, hotels, restaurants, banks, offices and public buildings (see Shopfitter profile).

Depending on the job, carpenters and joiners may work in conjunction with other construction tradespeople, for example electricians and plumbers.

What's the working environment like working as a Carpenter/Joiner?

The usual working week is 39 hours, Monday to Friday, although overtime at weekends or evenings is common when deadlines must be met.

Carpenters and joiners often work in narrow or confined spaces and carry heavy materials and tools. Site work involves working in all weathers, climbing ladders and working on scaffolding or roofs. Bench joiners tend to work mainly in workshops where conditions can get dusty. Safety equipment such as helmets and boots are required on construction sites. Goggles or ear defenders may also be needed for some jobs.

Travel between sites is necessary and some periods working away from home may be required. A driving licence is useful.

What does it take to become a Carpenter/Joiner?

To be a carpenter or joiner you should:

  • be methodical and able to plan out work accurately
  • be able to follow technical drawings and plans
  • have good practical ability and manual skills
  • have numerical ability for measuring and making calculations
  • be physically fit
  • be able to work as part of a team and alone
  • be aware of health and safety issues.

Carpenter/Joiner Career Opportunities

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Carpenter/Joiner that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Bircham Newton
King's Lynn
PE31 6RH
Tel: 01485 577577

Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)
Tel: 0870 417 8777

Equal Opportunities Commission

The Institute of Carpenters (IOC)
c/o The Building Crafts College
Kennard Road
E15 1AH