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What Do Carpenters Do? Here’s a Breakdown

A carpenter or builder is a vital contributor to the construction trade. Carpenters construct, repair, and install building frameworks and structures made from wood and other materials, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many work indoors on fine details for cabinetry, walls and even furniture, while other carpenters work outdoors on the skeleton of a building or the temporary bracing for large-scale structures like bridges or sewers.

Woodworkers rely on carpentry tools to craft and shape their materials. Door frames, stairwells, rafters, and many other residential and commercial building elements are made of wood. Therefore, these professionals use basic carpentry tools—from tape measures to table saws—to help accomplish daily tasks.

Types of Carpenters

Like doctors, there are different types of carpenters. You wouldn’t go to a surgeon for a sore throat, and you wouldn’t hire a cabinetmaker to install door frames for a strip mall. Often, professionals focus on a specific area within the carpentry and building trade. Let’s review some common types of carpenters and explore their specialties.

  • Cabinetmaker

This carpenter does fine and detailed work, specifically wardrobes, chests and built-in pantries.

  • Joiner

This carpenter does finish work where exact joints are critical, such as furniture making and model building.

  • Formwork carpenter

This carpenter creates falsework, or temporary structures used to support a permanent structure until it is complete enough to support itself.

  • Framer

This carpenter builds the framework of buildings.

  • Trim carpenter

This carpenter does molding, trim, door and window casings, baseboards and mantels

  • Green carpenter

This carpenter practices environmentally friendly, energy efficient and sustainable methods and often uses fewer materials to achieve structural accuracy.


3 Industries Where Carpenters Work

Carpenters can be highly valuable trade workers for several industries. Their hands-on training, attention to detail and knowledge of woodworking make them assets on a jobsite and for growing the nation’s infrastructure. The three main industries that employ carpenters are:

  • Residential

Carpenters in the residential construction industry help to build single-family homes, apartments and condos. They assemble the framework and walls, lay flooring and complete finish work, such as built-in cabinetry, moldings, mantels and trim.

  • Commercial

Carpenters in this field work on retail stores, malls, office buildings, high-rise buildings and restaurants. They interpret construction plans, build framework and install windows and doors, all using power tools and hands-on skills.

  • Industrial

Carpenters who work in the industrial field specialize in large projects like dams, tunnels and sewers. They may provide the temporary bracing, called falsework, required to hold up the structure during construction. Sawing, shaping, installing and repairing comprise some of their common tasks in the industrial industry.


So, You Want to Be a Carpenter?

Now that you know a little more about the carpentry trades and the different types of carpenters, you may have a clearer idea about your future. If your passions include working with your hands or constructing something completely new—carpentry might be a good fit for you! Check out our Construction & Building Skills Program to see what you could learn in 900 hours split between the classroom and the shop.

*Apex Technical School and its instructors are licensed by the State of New York, New York State Education Department.

Disclaimer: Apex Technical School provides training for entry-level jobs. Not everything you may read about the industry is covered in our training programs.