The job of a finish carpenter includes measuring, cutting, and installing elements of a home or building that the owner will see upon moving in. These can include trim, stairs, siding, roofing, and custom cabinets. Most upper end homes require the knowledge and experience of a good finish carpenter because even the slightest discrepancy in the trim and other areas will be noticeable.
In many cases, the finish carpenter starts out as a rough carpenter. This is the person who builds the frame of the structure, along with the exterior walls. As he learns to make cuts and use precision tools more accurately and with greater detail, he may begin to do various types of finish work. Many times, practicing on pieces which will not be used in the home is a good idea, because items like trim and molding must be finished accurately and with great precision.
Sometimes the carpenter will perform both rough and finish work in the same job. This can be more convenient for him because if a separate rough carpenter doesn’t install the walls or flooring perfectly accurate, he will have a hard time making up for those mistakes while installing the trim. By doing both jobs, he ensures that everything is measured and cut properly.
Oftentimes a finish carpenter will get his training working as an apprentice for a more experienced professional. He will likely be required to use hand tools, do rough carpentry work, and observe closely how the more intricate jobs are done. Apprentices are usually paid a small wage for their work, but an experienced finish carpenter can make a very good income once he has been properly trained.
In some cases a carpenter will also do installations for components that will be seen on the outside of the home. This can include siding and roofing materials. Both of these things have to be installed, and since they are the first thing owners will notice, they must be done properly. Extra training or experience may be needed in order to provide these additional services, although many tradesmen are proficient in multiple areas of construction.
Most areas do not require that a finish carpenter have any sort of specialized formal education. Most skills are learned on the job, but this may vary based on location and employer.