April 6, 2023
Many people often interchange the terms “carpenter” and “woodworker” because both words seem to have the same meaning. Yet, upon closer scrutiny, these two words have shades of difference. While they may both entail working with wood, the daily activities attached to each term may differ. For example, if you’re a carpenter, you are often seen at a construction site doing some construction stuff. On the other hand, if you’re a woodworker, you would be tinkering with wood and working at your workshop.
Carpenters should be familiar with many processes involved in building construction, like building doors and windows, adding insulation and drywall, framing floors, and many more. On the other hand, Woodworkers are usually engaged in tinkering with wood and dealing with tools and machines.
What Is Carpenter?
As mentioned above, a carpenter is often seen erecting and installing building parts and structures at construction sites. They also engage in building bridges, office buildings, private homes, and many other works, and they deal with varying construction materials. Moreover, carpenters can engage in multiple tasks. They could also specialize in a specific job.
Carpenters must know how to install and size various building fixtures and materials. Besides, they should master how to square and level. Moreover, carpenters are engaged in large projects like building office towers and bridges. These carpenters get referred to as rough carpenters, and they can construct wood forms for footings, pillars, and cement foundations.
Specific Responsibilities and Functions of Carpenters
Carpentry is a noble job, and it requires developing various skill sets. It’s as if you are masters of many skill sets. Below are the specific skillsets and responsibilities of carpenters:
- Carpenters calculate the number of materials for construction. Then, they place orders to purchase them.
- They follow building blueprints.
- They install fixtures, frameworks, structures, walls, doors, and windows.
- They install exterior and interior trims, flooring, siding, insulation, and drywall.
- They inspect and replace damaged parts of rooms and buildings.
- They engage in measuring, shaping, and cutting wood, building materials, and even plastic.
- They also engage in woodworking.
- Carpenters may use tools like nail guns, sanders, welding machines, chisels, circular saws, levels adhesives, squares, nails, and screws.
Different Types of Carpenters
When you’re young, you might think of carpenters in a typical fashion. Yet, as you indulge more in woodworking, you might realize that carpenters also have different types. Below are the different types of carpenters you can encounter:
- Joisters: Joisters are carpenters who focus on working with load-bearing structures. So, their primary tasks include laying floor joints, ceilings, and roofs.
- Ship Carpenters: Ship carpenters are those carpenters whose main function is to engage in ship carpentry. They focus more on carpentry works in shipbuilding and repairing ship structures.
- Roofers: Roofers are those carpenters who thrive in the installation of the roof. They are experts in the installation of tiles and shingles.
- Framers: Framers are those carpenters whom you will see on many construction sites. They follow the structural foundation, providing architectural shape while calculating the needed materials for framing.
- Trim Carpenters: Trim carpenters are those who are experts in trim work. They also specialize in ornamental and moldings.
What Is Woodworker?
Now that you understand the primary functions of carpenters, it will help to know the main jobs of woodworkers. Woodworking leans more toward the artistic aspect of carpentry. Both carpenters and woodworkers may use the same tools and materials, but woodworkers focus more on wood. Woodworkers also freely create and enhance existing woodworking designs.
Woodworkers, of course, have a range of responsibilities, from making cabinets and furniture to making sculptures and instruments. Most of these products are mass-produced. As such, many woodworkers work in manufacturing plants of furniture and cabinets. Woodworkers who work in manufacturing plants make use of advanced machinery and tools.
Jobs and Responsibilities of Woodworkers
If you’re raring to become a woodworker, it will be best to know what woodworkers do. Below are the specific jobs of real woodworkers:
- Woodworkers set up and maintain automated tools and machines in most woodworking plants.
- They know how to read shop drawings, blueprints, and schematics.
- They operate woodworking tools and automated machines like drill presses, various power saws, milling machines, and other machines for woodworking.
- They assemble wood parts and pieces and add adhesives and fasteners.
- They also install hardware.
- They engage in finishing the products by sanding, painting, or staining them.
- Woodworkers also use different tools like automated machines, CNC, saws, power tools, shapers, planers, sanders, wood fastening machines, and drill presses.
Different Types of Woodworker
Not all woodworkers are the same, for one woodworker might have specific expertise and focus, while another focuses on another expertise. So, if you intend to engage in woodworking, it will help to know the following different types of woodworkers:
- Wood Carvers: If you are a woodworker who engages in crafting things and sculpting wood, you belong to this type of woodworker. Woodcarvers engage in adding intricate details to the wood surface. They use specialized tools like Dremel bits.
- Luthiers: If you’re the woodworker who builds musical instruments, you are referred to as a luthier. Luthiers are those who make wood framing for various stringed instruments like guitars and violins.
- Framers: You are a framer if you’re the type of woodworker who assembles frames for roofing or flooring. Framers create frames for doors and windows by building those frames and fastening them with screws or nails.
- Furniture Makers: Furniture makers are those woodworkers who build furniture. These woodworkers are highly skilled and know how to deal with various wood species. They could also engage in the panel and framing construction. Cabinet makers, of course, fall under this category or type.
- Turners: You can also engage in woodturning; if you do, you are referred to as turners. Turners create bowls, cups, and dishes by turning wood.
- Wood Burning Artists: Woodburning artists are those who create intricate patterns and designs by burning wood. They use various woodburning techniques to produce these complex patterns and designs, and this job requires experience and expertise.
- Whittlers: You are still considered a woodworker even if you’re not an expert in making furniture and woodturning. You are referred to as a whittler if you are engaged in smaller woodworking projects. Whittlers engage in woodworking, but they are not professional woodworkers.
Woodworking and Carpentry: What’s the Difference?
At this point, you might have figured out some of the succinct differences between woodworking and carpentry. Yet, these two jobs are not opposed to each other. Thus, it will help to know their apparent similarities:
They Work With Almost the Same Material
Carpenters work with various types of materials like cement and concrete. Yet, they also work with wood. As such, they could also be considered woodworkers. So, both jobs deal with wood.
They Use Almost the Same Tools
When they work with wood, woodworkers and carpenters utilize almost the same tools and machines. Yet, woodworkers may use specialized machinery, which carpenters may also operate in some instances. Both types of workers, however, utilize saws, sanders, levels, shapers, nails, and screws.
They Both Know How to Make Joinery
Carpenters and woodworkers are expected to be good at making joinery. They should be equipped with these skills, though they may vary in levels of mastery. As a woodworker or carpenter, you will be expected to make joints and do them well. Of course, there are different types of joints, and the level of expertise of a carpenter and woodworker is often measured by how they make joinery.
Skillsets and Training
Although the skillsets and training of woodworkers and carpenters may vary slightly, they are still almost similar. Both carpenters and woodworkers undergo training to enhance and raise their levels of expertise. Many of them attend vocational and college schools, and some of them also undergo apprenticeships.
Both woodworkers and carpenters undergo intensive training. They also undergo training on safe working habits. Both can read blueprints and drawings, and both are trained to use the same tools.
Major Differences Between Carpentry and Woodworking
After knowing the similarities between woodworking and carpentry, it will also help if you are familiar with the following differences between these two jobs:
They Vary a Bit in What They Do
The most significant difference between carpentry and woodworking lies in the tasks and duties they perform. Woodworkers tinker with wood while carpenters set those items in place. Thus, woodworkers would usually make cabinets, shelves, and wooden furniture. On the other hand, Carpenters install these cabinets, shelves, and even wooden furniture. However, Carpenters have a more comprehensive range of work besides tinkering with wood. They also deal with a broader range of materials aside from wood.
Their Locations of Work Vary
As mentioned above, most carpenters are found on job sites and engaged in carpentry work. These job sites might be commercial, residential, outdoor, or indoor. On the other hand, Woodworkers tarry in manufacturing facilities and industrial production centers, and most of these places are indoors.
They Differ in Their Job Outlooks and Salaries
Another succinct difference between these two jobs lies in their job outlooks and salaries. Carpenters, of course, make more money than woodworkers, but this is not always the case. Besides, carpentry offers more job opportunities than woodworking. A typical carpenter can earn up to 46,000 dollars on average. Again, the job outlooks for carpentry can grow by eight percent up to 2026. Thus, it has a better-projected outlook than other occupations.
Woodworkers, on the other hand, make an average of $40,000 annually. However, the job outlook for woodworkers is expected to remain the same in the coming years. The reason might be due to the introduction of automated machines designed to produce more results.
Many people select carpentry over woodworking due to the greater chances of employment. Besides, there are many carpentry schools and training you can avail of. Yet, if money isn’t an issue for you, you will still find woodworking a more enthusing focus of your effort and time.
Woodworking and Carpentry: Which is More Difficult?
Well, almost all jobs entail a certain level of difficulty in this world. Similarly, carpentry and woodworking are challenging jobs because they entail sweating yourself out and exerting effort. Yet, both become less difficult if you have the right tools and skill sets. Besides, each of these jobs’ difficulty depends on the type of work and craft you engage in.
Woodworking entails working with wood pieces, while carpentry focuses more on other jobs like repair and installation. Yet, it still depends on the tasks and tools and skill sets you have.
Carpentry may be engaged in larger projects, so carpenters should be better equipped to handle larger and more complicated projects. Woodworking, however, requires a deeper understanding of wood and the ability to engage in smaller tasks requiring detailed attention. Since carpentry and woodworking require standard tools like hammers, saws, and chisels, they both necessitate awareness and precision in their works. Both also require basic construction knowledge and skills. They should also have a working knowledge of math that could come in handy when measuring materials and space.
If you’re considering a career in carpentry or woodworking, it will help if you are familiar with the abovementioned similarities and differences between these two terms and their job descriptions. This way, you can decide whether you want to become more like the carpenter or you would like to focus more on wood as a woodworker.
Jason is a 40-year-old woodworker, carpenter and author who have been involved in the woodworking and woodcraft industry with 17 years of experience. He is expertise in technical aspects, woodcraft and furniture building projects.