What are the Different Carpenter Jobs?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Different terms for carpenter jobs are used in different parts of the English-speaking world, and even within the United States, carpenter jobs can be named in different ways. One scheme, for example, refers to carpenters by the overall place in which they work. Thus, a residential carpenter does work on all kinds of residential structures, completing a wide variety of tasks from layout to framing to door and window installation, and including finishing, stair building, and roofing. A commercial carpenter, by contrast, builds commercial and public structures, working on buildings of various heights, and doing the same kinds of tasks as a residential carpenter, but in a different setting, and similarly for an industrial carpenter. A ship’s carpenter builds and repairs ships, including their structural woodwork, as well as nautical cabinetry, while a scenic carpenter does whatever building is needed for film-making, theater, and television set scenery.

A jointer, which is used in carpentry.
A jointer, which is used in carpentry.

A second scheme looks at the specific carpenter jobs within the workplace, no matter what the workplace is. So a rough carpenter builds rough wooden structures of whatever type needed and wherever needed. A framing carpenter or framer creates the framework or structure of buildings. A finish carpenter or joiner is involved in cabinetry, parquet, and other fine woodwork.

A carpenter may find work installing windows.
A carpenter may find work installing windows.

Although a carpenter is defined as a worker skilled in the making, finishing, and repairing of wooden structures and objects, some building jobs are referred to as being carpenter jobs when wood is not necessarily a significant part of them. For example, the Carpenters Training Committee for Northern California refers to acoustical installers who hang ceiling systems, insulators who install fiberglass insulation products, millwrights who install and maintain industrial equipment and machinery, pile drivers who build foundations, and scaffold erectors who build and dismantle staging areas for work as careers in carpentry. They also list several specialties that would be more readily recognized as carpenters work, such as hardwood floor laying and shingling.

A carpenter's job may consist of building furniture.
A carpenter's job may consist of building furniture.

In the UK, different terms are used. For example, on a UK jobs website, the main field is considered to combine carpentry and joinery, and there are four kinds. Bench joiners make doors, skirting boards, and roof timbers. Formwork carpenters make forms for concrete that is poured to create anything from staircases to bridges, to multistory buildings. Shopfitters are carpenters who specialize in the interiors and fronts of shops. Lastly, site carpenters fit prefabricated items into buildings.

A carpenter may build and repair structural woodwork.
A carpenter may build and repair structural woodwork.
Carpenters must know how to safely operate machinery and power tools, including miter saws.
Carpenters must know how to safely operate machinery and power tools, including miter saws.
Carpenters may focus on building furniture pieces.
Carpenters may focus on building furniture pieces.
Chairs are one type of furniture a carpenter may build.
Chairs are one type of furniture a carpenter may build.
Joinery is a type of woodworking.
Joinery is a type of woodworking.
Carpenters may install new siding on a house.
Carpenters may install new siding on a house.
Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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