Cabinet making is a woodworking trade that involves designing and building cabinets. It is a precision trade that requires a variety of stationary power tools, hand tools, and measuring equipment, and involves many tasks that are useful in other trades, such as furniture making. A cabinetmaker must be able to accurately dimension, cut, and shape lumber; do complex joinery; and apply a finish to completed projects. Related cabinet making jobs include marquetry and woodcarving, glass cutting, and design consultation.
Unlike a construction carpenter, a cabinetmaker usually works in a shop equipped with a variety of precision power tools. The centerpiece of a cabinet making shop is the table saw, which is usually much more powerful than one on a construction site and more accurately tuned. Among the other common power equipment in a cabinet making shop are a heavy duty jointer and planer for making accurately dimensioned lumber, a lathe for turning spindles, a drill press for boring, and a table-mounted router for shaping. A cabinetmaker is also likely to have a wide assortment of chisels, hand planes, mallets, clamps, and screwdrivers. No cabinet making shop would be complete without a large, flat assembly table.
While most cabinets can be completed in a cabinet making shop, occasionally a cabinetmaker will work on-site. For example, when constructing a built-in cabinet, most of the cutting and milling will be conducted in the shop, but the cabinet will be assembled in place. Since this sometimes requires modifications to the building structure and surrounding walls, a cabinet maker should also have a grasp of basic carpentry, drywall, and painting techniques. The sense of aesthetics and proportion possessed by a good cabinetmaker is a valuable asset to the homeowner seeking cabinets that blend with the house decor in a pleasing way.
It usually takes more training to be a cabinet maker than it does to do work in other woodworking trades. Many of the cutting, shaping, and joinery procedures are complex and require a degree of precision that takes years to develop. While an aspiring cabinetmaker can get appropriate training by taking courses offered by community colleges and vocational schools, most employers also require a period of formal apprenticeship. Apprentices working in an established cabinet making shop usually begin by doing many of the most routine and time-consuming cabinet making jobs, like cutting trim and doing simple assembly, until they have developed sufficient familiarity with the tools to attempt more refined ones.