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Some people have a natural affinity with wood. They love the smell of freshly sawn timber, the feel of a strip of freshly hewn pine in their hands, and the sense of a job well done after they have crafted a piece of timber furniture.

To the untrained eye, joinery and carpentry are one and the same trade. However, whilst there are a lot of similarities between the two, there are also some key differences.

If you want a long-lasting career with plenty of job satisfaction and a decent wage, joinery and carpentry are both a smart choice. There is high demand for manual trades these days, and not just in the construction sector.

Housebuilding is on the rise and people look to carpenters and joiners to carry out essential work. Here is a quick guide to the main differences between these essential trades, so you know what to expect if you want to work with wood.


Carpenters have been around for millennia. They are highly skilled tradesmen who work with wood to construct furniture, boats, and building structures. Just to illustrate the longevity of carpentry as a trade, remember that Jesus of Nazareth was a carpenter!

In the construction industry, carpenters build roof trusses, erect timber walls and lay floors. They are involved at all stages in a construction project and without their specialist skills, houses wouldn’t be built. Attention to detail is in the carpenter job description and these guys are invaluable.

Carpenters earn around $44k a year, but the top 10% earn a very respectable $34 per hour.


Joiners do a very similar job, but the main difference is that they don’t use metal fastenings in their work. At its simplest, a joiner “joins” wood. He will work with wood to produce items of furniture.

Unlike a carpenter, he doesn’t need metal screws, bolts, and other fastenings. Instead, he is skilled at creating joints to hold two pieces of timber together. He might use wooden pegs, but a screw gun is not in his toolbox.

Skilled joiners usually work in a workshop whereas carpenters typically work on-site. Joiners are very similar to cabinet makers in terms of their skillsets, and again, there is some crossover between the two trades.

Joiners earn a similar wage to carpenters, although like any profession, it is very much based on supply and demand.

Which Trade Do You Need?

If you are building a home or your existing house needs a new roof or a partition wall, call a carpenter. He or she will have the skills you need.

If, on the other hand, you would like a handmade coffee table for your living room or you would like a custom-made bookcase for the bedroom, you should look for a skilled joiner in your local neighborhood.

The best way to become a joiner or carpenter is by finding a skilled professional to take you on as an apprentice. This is how the older guys learned their trade. But, you can also sign up for a college course if you want to divide your time between the classroom and on-the-job training.


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