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Carpentry vs Woodworking: What Is the Difference?

HG_Carpentry Vs Woodworking

As a newcomer to the construction industry, the difference between carpentry and woodworking can be a hard puzzle to crack. Most people tend to assume that these two professions are the same. However, this is not always the case, and this is perhaps why most people are often confused between the two.

In this article, we will explore the classifications of the two as well as the different aspects of woodworking and carpentry. Read on to learn more.

wood divider

At a Glance

HG_Carpentry VS Woodworking
Image By: Left – Ksenia Chernaya, Pexels | Right – Jürgen Sieber, Pixabay


  • Average Salary (per year) $40,000–$49,000
  • ‌Installing wood items
  • Required Tools: Nail guns, sander, chisels, and other hand-usable gears
  • Working Zone: Commercial or home site


  • Average Salary (per year) $30,000–$55,000
  • Making wood items (door)
  • Required Tools: Computerized machinery, saws, sander, drill pressures, and so on
  • Working Zone: Big industry or factory

Overview of Carpentry

In general, the term carpentry refers to the production of structural components and larger pieces. Therefore, if your product is an integrated furniture building, framing work, or simply the structural framework for interior furnishings, then you are probably talking about carpentry. Either way, carpentry work is still referred to as finishing work.

Carpenters not only build houses and other residential properties, but they also build non-residential structures like schools and hospitals. Essentially, carpentry involves working with almost everything that involves creating living space structures while working with timber.

After the initial indoor space has been constructed, a carpenter is required to do the house finishes such as installing fixtures like cabinets, shelves, and even stairs. The carpenter may also install decking and flooring.

Despite popular belief, carpenters are not responsible for creating fine details on their operative materials; however, they are required to make precise shapes and cuts from their materials. Carpenters also need to be very well-versed in reading and interpreting construction blueprints so that they can utilize them when installing wooden fixtures on a property.

If you are a creative person who prefers to do individual DIY furnishings, carpentry might be too limiting for your taste. This is because you have to stick to pre-arranged plans. Nevertheless, carpentry is ideal for people looking to furnish their own interior space, while making the furnishing decisions.

Image By: mavo, Shutterstock

Tools Used by Carpenters

Carpenters work with manual hand tools like levels, chisels, and squares, among others. Since carpentry involves working with large structures, these professionals will also need nail guns, welding machines, circular saws, sanders, and other types of advanced wood machinery.

Types of Carpenters

  • Rough Carpenters: These kinds of carpenters have a similar job to woodworkers because of the framing jobs that they undertake. However, rough carpenters go a step further than framing jobs to work on large projects such as the building and installation of roofs and formworks.
  • Joisters: These are simply carpenters who work on wooden load-bearing structures called joisters. They are entrusted with laying roofs, floorjoints and ceilings.
  • Trim Carpenters: Trim work is considered a part of carpentry. Trim carpenters are not only expected to know how to trim, but also to deal with ornamental and molding jobs.
  • Ship Carpenters: Unlike their counterparts in industrial sites, ship carpenters build and repair various wooden structures in the interior of a ship.
  • Roofers: These are essentially carpenters tasked with roof installation jobs. Roofers may be similar to woodworkers, but they do the actual installation of tiles and shingles, not just the framing jobs.
  • Framers: These types of carpenters are common on construction sites and are usually tasked with following the progress of structure foundations. They advise the architects on the shape of the frames as well as the materials required for framing.
  • Job in high demand
  • Can work from home or at a commercial site
  • Skilled in a variety of tool use
  • Not a creative field
  • Need skills and training due to working with dangerous machinery

divider 1 Overview of Woodworking

Woodworking is a general term used for people who work with wood, usually, involving creativity while working with wood. These professionals work with wood products that are not directly related to construction.

This profession has existed for centuries, even before modern technology was invented. Based on information from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, modern-day woodworkers are not just craftspeople using tools to make detailed furniture and other wooden products. The modern woodworker is very technical, and their career involves dealing with advanced machinery and equipment.

Its provenance can be traced back to Middle English describing people who worked with logs and trees, converting them into planks or boards. This meaning has remained constant despite changes in language and society at large.

The woodworking process involves shaping wood into objects including furniture and decorative work. It entails cutting wood and joining the pieces together until they make solid pieces devoid of spaces between them.

The term woodworking can refer to the assembly of basic craft pieces or even more elaborate creations such as furniture. From a general perspective, woodworkers usually work with smaller wooden items, unlike carpenters. They also need to be familiar with several woodworking techniques and tools such as block planes, chisels, hammers, saws, and clamps.

carpenter using a planer in woodworking
Image Credit: Ono Kosuki, Pexels

Tools Used by Woodworkers

As you may have gathered by now, woodworkers need specialized tools to create highly detailed designs on wood products. Therefore, these professionals will need woodworking tools such as sanders, millers, planers, and drills at their job sites to shape wood into the required designs.

On top of that, they will also need a woodworking starter kit to get access to tools for the more intricate designs required in woodworking.

Types of Woodworkers

  • Carvers: Woodworking carvers essentially carve wood just like sculptors do, but instead they use wooden materials. Carvers add intricate details to their products to increase its appeal. In some situations, carvers even use dremel bitsto carve wood as well.
  • Luthiers: These are simply woodworking professionals who work on wooden musical instruments. This profession entails creating wooden frames for stringed instruments such as guitars and violins.
  • Framers: Framers might be a carpentry profession but in woodworking, they assemble frames for roofing and flooring. They are also involved in making door and window frames by fastening wooden products with nails.
  • Furniture Makers: These are woodworking professionals who are fond of making household items. However, they have more knowledge and skills in working with different wood varieties. This profession can even involve panel construction and framing. People who make household furniture also fall into this category, but they have to be well-versed in wood finishing.
  • Whittlers: Even if one is not interested in the intricacies of building furniture, one can still be considered a woodworker so long as he/she is working on smaller wooden pieces. Whittlers never consider woodwork as a professional career though.
  • Turners: Turners are specifically tasked with turning wood to make bowls, cups, and dishes.
  • Woodworking requires creativity
  • Various types of woodworking levels
  • Woodworking projects can be done for small or large projects
  • Woodworkers are not as highly paid as carpenters
  • Must pay close attention to small details

divider 1 Differences Between Woodworking and Carpentry

1. Skills Required

Woodworking with a dust mask

Carpentry primarily revolves around practical applications like constructing buildings. This profession is more of an art form and requires a high level of creativity to make it successful. For anyone to qualify for a woodworking profession, they have to be able to use tools like chisels, saws, and sanders. They should also have a good eye for details and be able to follow woodworking instructions and tips.

Carpentry, on the other hand, requires one’s ability to measure and accurately cut straight lines, you need to have a basic understanding of the usage of the various types of wood to make sturdy and durable structures.

2. Tools and Equipment

In carpentry, the operative tools are mostly hand tools. These include hammers, saws, and chisels. Woodworking uses both hand power tools. These include routers, latches, and sanders. Carpenters may need to mark and measure out their work before starting the process while woodworkers just start with an idea or a plan.

3. The Materials You Work With

Despite both professions using the same materials, the techniques and methods are different. Carpenters work with unfinished and rougher wood. Woodworkers, on the other hand, start with refined and polished pieces.

Moreover, the end goal of both professions is different. It is all determined by individual preference and project requirements. Nevertheless, both professions work with a variety of woods, ranging from hardwoods like oak and mahogany to softwoods like pine. The type of wood will depend on the budget and the project scope.

4. Applications

Carpentry involves working with wooden pieces to create structures, and this usually involves using tools like saws, hammers, and nails. On the other hand, woodworking involves working with wood to create artful projects and this involves using tools like chisels, saws, and sandpaper.

The methodology and tools may be different, but both require someone to understand how wood behaves in different circumstances. Furthermore, carpenters should know how to read blueprints as well as use power tools. Woodworkers need only have a keen eye for details and know how to use hand tools.

5. Work Location

Adult carpenter craftsman with a pencil and the carpenter's square trace the cutting line on a wooden table
Image Credit: Francescomoufotografo, Shutterstock

You cannot compare carpentry and work without looking at the worksite premises. Usually, woodworking happens indoors since construction projects are likely to need major manufacturing facilities. These would be woodworking clubs, workshops, and any other indoor spaces. In addition, unlike woodworkers, carpenters can do construction projects in indoor residential areas, industrial sites, and even commercial sites.

6. Job Outlooks and Salary Range

Career outlooks are another major difference between the two professions. Woodworkers can choose to take different career paths including furniture making and carving, however, the market may be slower than carpentry based on projections for 2026.

Carpenters also happen to make more money than woodworkers. On average, a carpenter can make a total of up to $46,590 in a year and the job industry is expected to grow by 8%, which is faster than all job occupations.

Woodworkers on the other hand can earn up to $38,640 per year and according to the outlook projections, this number is likely to increase by 2026. This can be attributed to the fact that advancements in automation and machinery are capable of producing more woodwork programs.

divider 1 Similarities Between Carpentry and Woodworking

1. Both Utilize Traditional Tools

Carpenter Cutting House Roof Supports On Building Site
Image Credit: Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock

A major similarity between the two professions is that they both primarily work with wood. As earlier mentioned, even though woodworkers have some modern tools in their toolboxes, they also have to rely on traditional tools to do their job.

2. Education and Training

Both professions require focus, hard work, and training for a particular skill set. Anyone interested has to attain vocational institutes and community colleges to polish their skills and talents. Usually, most of these experts start their professional careers as apprentices.

Training for both professions is not an easy process; it is long and tumultuous, and it has its vicissitudes. Learning the required skills takes years of practice and diligence. This is probably because the workers have to exercise safety precautions at the work site.

A simple error or miscalculation could land the workers in the hospital. The training duration and process are meant to ensure the safety of both workers and anyone around them

wood divider Conclusion

Carpentry and woodworking may be used interchangeably but they are two distinct professions. The difference between the two may not always be obvious, but it is useful to know the distinction, especially if you are interested in working with wood.

Carpentry usually revolves around working with wood to construct living spaces. On the other hand, woodworking involves working with wood to create intricate designs on wooden products. Both careers combine art, tradition, and science.

Featured Image Credit: Sarah Marchant, Shutterstock


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