The Definitive Guide to Joinery
Joiners are vital workers in the construction industry, creating products and structures from timber that are used in the construction process. Here is our guide to the joinery trade, how it differs from carpentry and the options for getting started as a joiner.
What is joinery?
A joiner works with wood and other materials to make structures, furniture and fittings that are installed within buildings. Joiners are trained craftspeople who create bespoke products, work closely with suppliers and sub-contractors and are expert in using both traditional tools and state of the art technology.
Carpentry versus Joinery
Carpentry and Joinery are often used as interchangeable terms, but they are not the same occupation. What is the difference between them?
What is bespoke joinery?
Bespoke joinery are custom-designed products that are made for customers to fit their specific requirements or spaces. Bespoke products add value to buildings because they maximise the available space and are generally made to a higher specification than factory or mass-produced items. Joiners are employed to create bespoke products because they can put their skills to use on items that meet the precise requirements of customers, going above and beyond a general standard of craftsmanship.
What does a joiner do?
Through their training and experience a joiner becomes an expert in joining pieces of wood together and learning how to cut a range of different types of joint, such as bridle joints, mortise and tenon joints, rabbet joints and biscuit joints. Joiners also measure, mark and cut wood according to technical designs, conduct site surveys, understand technical drawings, produce cutting lists and estimate the materials needed for a job.
Joiners will be trained to use machinery such as lathes, sanding wheels and circular saws, smaller hand tools as well as computerised cutting equipment, CAD drawing and design software.
How to get a job in joinery?
There are several different ways to get started in a career in joinery.
College courses are available in joinery and carpentry. Ask your local college if they provide the following courses:
- Level 2 Diploma in Bench Joinery
- Level 2 Award in Timber & Panel Products
- Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Carpentry and Joinery
- Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Wood Machining.
You will usually need 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 for a Level 2 course, and 4 or more passes at grades 9 to 4 for Level 3 courses.
You could take an apprenticeship in joinery and carpentry (they are usually bundled together) to train as a site carpenter or architectural joiner. You could work with an employer who specialises in a particular area of joinery.
Another option is to complete an intermediate apprenticeship as a wood product manufacturing operative. For entry onto an apprenticeship some GCSEs are usually needed.
You could apply direct to a construction company – some firms may take on school leavers as assistants to learn the trade. An aptitude for woodworking, perhaps from school, will always help.
Work experience looks good on a CV and could help you to gain a foothold in the industry. You could get this through your school, working at weekends or school holidays if you have a relative who works as a joiner.