A woodworker or carpenter is someone who, as the name implies, creates things using wood. There are hundreds of different types of jobs and careers available to a skilled carpenter, but the basic techniques of woodworking are essential to anyone who wants to work in the carpentry industry.
Fabrication is the process of building items from scratch. While production furniture is available commercially, it is almost always constructed with inferior joints and of inferior materials. Most commercially produced furniture is made of particle board and covered with veneer. This type of construction will literally disintegrate after being exposed to use and humidity for a few years. The particle board is so brittle that the joints can crumble just from being moved.
As a result of this, people are still willing to pay higher prices for custom wood furniture. In some cases a buyer’s needs are very specific and commercial furniture is not available to fit client’s need. Custom cabinets are an example of this. Cabinets have to be built to fit the kitchen, but building quality cabinets is far beyond the carpentry skill level of most general contractors.
Typically, a woodworker takes accurate measurements of the kitchen and builds the cabinets off-site in a wood fabrication shop. There is always a high demand for custom woodwork, but the demand is likely to soar once the housing market recovers. Kitchen tables are also often built to order. The possible exposure to spills makes a particle board table a very poor choice. Another item which is commonly custom-built is a wall unit or bookcase. Wall units also have to fit into a specific space and have shelves which fit the buyer’s TV, speakers, entertainment equipment, and display items. There are so many options available for a wall unit, that the only way to get one which suits your needs perfectly is to have it built to order.
Diverse techniques are used by woodworkers to achieve different results. A shop which primarily builds cabinets will use different tools and techniques than a shop which builds custom furniture, but there are a number of basic techniques which any woodworker must master. Measuring must be done perfectly. A single measuring mistake can mess up a project and cost thousands of dollars in materials and man hours. Cutting must also be performed perfectly whether making a strait cut or an angled cut.
Almost all basic woodwork is done with power tools, so most of the basic techniques consist of mastering these tools and using them accurately. Routers are used to round or shape edges. Routers can also be used with guides or jigs to make decorative cuts or texturing into the wood. Routers can also be used to inscribe letters into wood. Over the course of a woodworker’s career, they will spend more time sanding than doing any other task. Sanders are used to smooth the wood and prepare it for the finish. Last of all, finishing is an essential group of skills. Staining, painting, waxing, and clear-coating must all be mastered by woodworkers.
Many shops do mass produce woodwork. Products such as a desk may be put into production by a small shop. Enormous amounts of time and energy can be saved by mass production. A shop will set up to make one component and make a given number of the specific component. All jigs and measurements are saved for future productions. At the end of the production the components are assembled and the product is finished. This is a growing sector in the woodworking industry. In cabinet shops a commonly used type of drawer or door may be put into production to be used even on custom cabinets. Keeping components which are used often in stock can save energy during production, as well as give employees a productive task during a slow week.
Repairs And Maintenance
Wood is a relatively soft, natural material. As a result, it will suffer wear and tear over time. Changes in temperature and humidity cause small changes in the sizes of individual pieces of wood. This puts stress on the joints and finish. Since quality woodwork is often very expensive, there is always a demand for woodworkers who can repair and refinish custom woodwork.
There are many advanced finishing techniques which can be used to give a unique appearance to your work. This includes textured finishes, cracked finishes, and antique finishes. Laminating is another advanced technique. Multiple layers of wood may be laminated together to provide thicker stock or to achieve layers of different colored natural wood. Laminates can mimic a much more pronounced grain pattern. Another advanced technique is steam bending wood. This technique can be used to make beautiful curvy creations.
The techniques to work wood are endless, and a woodworker will continue learning throughout his or her entire career. It is important for a carpenter to be self motivated since carpenter often work under little or no supervision. Woodworking is a very rewarding and challenging career in which a person can benefit from a good imagination and a drive to create.
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