Basic Carpentry Skills

Carpentry is more than just owning a set of hand tools and using them. It’s about the craft and skill behind it. Without those, any project you do will turn into a mess. That being said, here are the skills and knowledge that you have to know in order to be a great carpenter


Figure out What Type of Carpenter You Are

You may choose to learn everything, but this may spread you too thin. Instead, you can choose to specialize in a certain type of carpentry. Either way, you have to know the types of carpenter to know what to learn how to budget your learning. These are the following:


Rough Carpenters

These are the people that usually begin the project. When it comes to a large scale project – like a house – they are in charge of creating the structural framing and roofing.


Finish Carpenters

In a house project, finish carpenters are those that work towards the end of the job. They usually do the interior trimming, molding, detailing, mill work, stairs, and paneling.


Cabinet Makers

These people are certain type of finish carpenters that specialize in creating built-in cabinets, book cases, and other furnishing.


General Skills

Any carpentry should have or learn the following skills:

  • Understanding and following blueprints and building codes
  • Basic mathematics and geometry (with an emphasis on calculation of angles).
  • Knowledge regarding lumber and other carpentry materials.
  • Knowledge of construction methods
    • Roof framing
    • Floor framing and installation
    • Door and window framing
    • Exterior and interior finishing
    • Rough framing
    • Rigging


Knowledge of Materials

Lumber is the primary material used for carpentry. There are different types with different properties and any good carpentry should know this. This is so that he can know what lumber is suitable for framing, trims on the exterior and interior, and floor and roof construction. Different nails and fasteners must also be used with certain type of lumber.


The lack of knowledge in lumber can actually lead to many design flaws that will make any project unstable. In the case of a house, building codes will be violated and the said home will be a hazard to live in.


Occasionally, carpenters also need to work with concrete, plastic, and composites. Knowledge about these materials is also a must.


Proficiency with Hand Tools and other Equipment

Cutting, drilling, nailing, etc. are all requirements when it comes to building projects. Thus, any good carpenter must be skilled in using hand tools like chisels, wood planers, hammers, and saws; power tools like drivers, nailers, drills, and routers.


For the power tools, safety is an absolute must for the worker’s healthy and life. Maintenance is also a must in order to make sure that these are always in proper working order.


Measuring tools are also amongst the commonly used tools that any carpenter must master. These include:

  • Tape measure
  • Rigid measures
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Framing square
  • Calipers
  • Bubble level
  • Plumb bob
  • Laser level



Now that you know the skills you need to learn, you need to know where you can learn them. The best way to learn is actually on the job; with hands-on training. Many carpenters actually look for numerous assistants and project laborers. Also, trade unions offer pain apprenticeships in which aspiring carpenters can learn from 3-4 years of OTJ training and classroom teachings.


Key Takeaway

Now that you know the skills needed and where to get the training for them, go out there and learn what you need. It’ll be a fun process to learn how to use hand tools efficiently and be able to create small to large projects with them. Imagine being able to build an entire house and it will all start by learning some basics of using hand tools.

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