Our guide to carpentry
Kristina K

Our guide to carpentry

First published date September 26 2013 Amended date April 17 2015

Are you creative and good with your hands? Do you jump at the opportunity to build every single thing in the house, from your own wardrobe to photo frames? Why not get serious with your hobby and train in carpentry? Or, if you’re already in the trade, improve your skills and increase your specialist areas on the range of carpentry courses we’ve got available.


Carpentry for amateurs

If you love a little bit tinkering around the house, you can get started on some DIY woodworking courses. Projects like crafting storage boxes,  bookshelves, workbenches, wine racks and candle holders are great in getting you comfortable with the basics of building with wood. Of course, there’s nothing holding you back from getting on carpentry and joinery courses, even if it’s just for the sake of filling up your spare time. The courses are great for DIY enthusiasts and ideal for those thinking of a career switch.  


Carpentry for master craftsmen/women

If you’re already a carpenter and make money from your trade, then gaining more skills and qualifications will only see you progress further and be able to offer more services. Carpentry and joinery courses are great for developing your hand skills, with more specialist and traditional craft skills included. On some of the courses, you’ll gain an increased knowledge with a better understanding of the construction industry, allowing you the option of moving into supervision, management or technician positions.


Build your own specialist area

Many woodworkers create one-off, exclusive tailor-made items. These include unique, bespoke drawers, desks, beds and doors. Not many people can do this, which explains why items like these are so exorbitantly priced. Look up cabinet making courses if you wish to pursue this lucrative career.


Construct big dreams

Working as a carpenter is not contained to commercial and residential buildings. You can end up building bridges, iconic buildings, churches, stadiums and even palaces. Your job scope is huge and varied. No dreams are too big to construct – think of the Great Pyramid, the Colosseum  or St Paul’s Cathedral. They’re some of the world’s greatest examples of carpentry and building construction.


The industry

The UK construction industry is constantly changing and developing to meet the challenges of erecting buildings that are bigger for the growing population and create greener living environments with better designs. There’s always a need for people with skills to help meet the country’s demand for schools, hospitals, libraries, homes and offices.  


Study routes

An education in carpentry can be gained through paid apprenticeships, meaning you don’t need to fund your course yourself and will actually earn money as you study. You could be a homebuilder’s assistant, a general contractor or a maintenance carpenter. Upon completion, you can get trade certification or licensing.

Carpentry courses will give you a certificate or an associate degree, and they normally last between one and two years if you’re studying full time. There are also part time courses available for working carpenters, allowing the flexibility for you to fit in both work and study.


What will you learn?

Whether you’re studying basic or advanced carpentry courses, you’ll learn to read plans, measure materials for cutting, and use hand and power tools safely. You’ll be able to cut, assemble and install materials according to written plans, research the latest building methods and construction technology. You’ll also cover topics on erecting complex structural carcassing, maintaining carpentry components and using fixed and transportable machinery.    



The City and Guilds award in carpentry is designed to give students practical training in basic carpentry and joinery techniques, scaffolding, brickwork, painting and decorating, plastering, health and safety, and communication skills. This qualification is applicable to those who have no experience in the construction industry at all right up to experienced carpenters who wish to obtain diplomas.

You can also choose to do apprenticeships, which are mostly designed to meet the needs of a diverse range of organisations. You’ll get a chance to create drawings, cut traditional joints, manufacture carpentry and joinery components like windows, doors and staircases, and also calculate and cost materials.


Some carpentry jokes...

For 30 years, carpenter Al had arrived at work at 7a.m on the dot. He had never missed a day and was never late. Consequently, when on one particular day, 7a.m passed without carpenter Al’s arrival. It caused a lot of commotion. All work stopped and the boss, looking at his watch and muttering, came out into the corridor. Finally, at 8a.m, carpenter Al showed up, clothes dusty and torn, face scratched and bruised, glasses bent. He limped painfully to the boss and said: ‘I tripped and rolled down two flights of stairs in the train station. Nearly killed myself.’ The boss said: ‘And to roll down two flights of stairs, that took you a whole hour?’


Law of construction – Cut it large and kick it into place.

Law of force – If it doesn’t fit, you’re not hitting it hard enough.

Law of force II – Don’t force it, get a larger hammer. If it jams, force it. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway!


Carpentry facts

The average salary for a carpenter in the UK is £30,000 (as of 2013).

An increasing number of women are joining the traditionally male dominated professions.  

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