There are two main categories: structural carpenters who build and maintain structures, and detail carpenters who concentrate on interior cosmetic applications. All carpenters perform numerous tasks. They may be required to install prefabricated structures such as window frames, doors or shelves, build foundations, install beams and subflooring, or erect walls and roofing systems. They also build stairways and wall partitions, install fixtures in kitchens and bathrooms, apply drywall, plaster or insulation material to both ceilings and walls, and install moldings, parquet flooring and tiles.
Carpenters use the latest technology in hand and power tools, including computerized machinery, to cut, fit and assemble wood and other materials in the construction of buildings, docks, industrial plants and many other structures. They start with the drawings or blueprints that define the scope of the specific project, measure and mark the layout, cut and shape the materials with hand and power tools, join the materials, check the work and make any necessary adjustments. Their duties often include arranging for sub-contractors, preparing cost estimates and writing progress reports also.
Carpentry is both physically and intellectually demanding. Much of the work requires physical effort and working with your hands to lift, saw, hammer and carry materials. It also calls for foresight, concentration, mathematical skill and an ability to read and interpret plans, blueprints, drawings and sketches to determine specifications and requirements. You must be able to organize your work carefully and carry out tasks with little or no supervision. Interpersonal communication and problem-solving skills are important when dealing with co-workers and clients. You will be expected to have good writing and speaking skills to explain what you intend to do for the client and estimate the costs involved in the project. If you intend to work as an independent contractor you need to possess excellent entrepreneurial skills as well.
Carpenters can be self-employed contractors working on a project-by-project basis or employed by construction companies. Each job offers a new set of challenges, the opportunity to accomplish a variety of tasks and the opportunity to see the results of your labour. Carpenters are employed in both the residential and the commercial/industrial sectors. They may work indoors or outdoors, often standing bending or kneeling for long periods in small enclosed spaces or at great heights. The largest percentage of construction tradespeople are carpenters, since they are needed in all types of construction.
- Building Contractor