If the smell of fresh sawdust is something you would like to experience every day, or you have enjoyed a past experience of woodworking, a job in woodwork might be a good fit. There are two ways a person typically starts a woodworking career; an apprenticeship, or a Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) course.
An apprenticeship is a great way to learn a trade. You'll earn a wage whilst gaining valuable experience on the job, in addition to attending college on a part-time basis. At the end of your apprenticeship, the employer may take you on full-time, though this isn't a guarantee.
However, taking a course at your local college may be a better way for you to learn - everyone is different. You should consider both options to find what works best for you, but it helps to know about the types of woodwork career you could pursue.
Carpentry and joinery
These are the most prominent roles in woodworking. Carpenters and joiners work on the more obvious woodwork tasks, like working on building sites and making wooden products like doors in a workshop.
A site carpenter or joiner usually plies their trade on construction sites. Their skills are needed for the woodworking aspects of building, including roofing, laying floorboards and fitting skirting boards. Site carpenters and joiners will also work on projects in people's workplaces or homes, helping with jobs like loft conversions or even simple tasks like hanging a new door. With site work, you get a wide range of tasks, and you might even be able to go self-employed.
A bench carpenter or joiner, on the other hand, is a slightly more specialised job. You work is done at a workbench, where you will create items like windows, doors, conservatories and gates. Bench joiners are often required to build things to very specific measurements and will use static machines to sand or plane the timber they work with.
A skilled bench carpenter or joiner can expect steady work and a good income. Whichever type of carpentry or joinery appeals to you, a CITB course will provide good all-round training. The CITB may also be able to help you get in touch with a local company.
Another role you can try in the woodwork trade is to be a furniture maker. These tradespeople usually have a keen eye for design and have an instinct for paying close attention to detail.
Most furniture people buy is mass-produced, but the products a furniture maker builds are custom-made and unique. They may also work on restoring old pieces of furniture, either returning them to their former glory or creatively up-cycling for an entirely new piece. If this sounds appealing to you, the best route is to take an apprenticeship or find a specialist training course.
A woodworking machinist is placed in a workshop, whether large or small, where they use woodwork machinery to build wood products. They may even work in a timber mill, producing wood that can be sold to merchants. The machines used include everything from planers to Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machines, which cut wood to the measurements specified in a digital drawing.
It's a steady job, but the work is not as varied as in other woodworking careers. To take this route, you'll want to pursue an apprenticeship with your local college. These apprenticeships are not as widely available as those for carpentry and joinery, so you will have to do your own research.
If you are certain you want a career in woodwork, but can't decide which route to pursue, a carpentry or joinery course will give you a broad skill-base. You may not enjoy all the woodworking tasks, but you will learn what you're good at and what you do enjoy. This will help you choose how you proceed once the course is completed.
Published by Ruby Daub