Carpentry vs Woodworking — The Big Difference

Many people confuse one for the other. A carpenter and a woodworker, don’t they have the same job? While both are skilled in wood-related projects, and frequently use the same tools, they have very different jobs. So what is the main difference between carpentry and woodworking? Let’s start with a small explanation of both and continue to compare the two. 

What is Carpentry

carpentry vs woodworking

A carpenter is a person you will find on a job site, from start to finish. They are in charge of the structure of the buildings they get hired to work on. Like laying out floors, walls, installing windows and door frames. Carpentry is really a catch-all for mainly wood-related projects that happen during the construction phase of a building. There are many variations on carpenters, For example, a trim carpenter is concerned with moldings and installing baseboards. A framer is concerned with creating the skeletal structure of buildings. 

A good carpenter will be skilled in a bit of everything. They will most likely also install molding and floors, even though it’s not their specialty. I always say don’t trust the guy who needs to call his buddy to install your floors. 😉

I consider myself first and foremost a carpenter. I get hired to come to your house to install or fix your floors, install crown molding, your deck, etc. I love working on the job site and taking care of the framing and molding .. but I do my fair share of woodworking as well. For example, I enjoy creating small trinkets from wood or build basic furniture for people’s homes. However, while I’m trained and skilled in carpentry, I would not say I’m a woodworker persé. At best I’m a carpenter with a slant of woodworking skills. There are many woodworkers I know that are far more skilled at their job than me. 

What is Woodworking

carpentry vs woodworking

A woodworker is someone who you will rarely find on a job site. They mostly work out of their own shop. Woodworkers are considered to be more artistic than your average carpenter. They are the ones who create furniture from wood, think cabinets, dressers any type of furniture but also smaller things like picture frames and shelves. 

The Difference — carpentry vs woodworking

Both a carpenter and a woodworker are highly skilled and know their way around wood, they often use the same kind of tools. However, a carpenter is someone who is part of a construction crew. The look and feel of the building, both inside and outside is very much the concern of the carpenter. Whereas the furniture you will find in a building, such as cabinets, dressers, and other furniture is the concern of a woodworker. 

Conclusion

I hope by now the difference between carpentry vs woodworking is a little more clear. If anyone asks, just say tell them the woodworker is the one who makes the cabinet and the carpenter is the one who installs said cabinet. 


Q&A

DO CARPENTERS MAKE FURNITURE?

No carpenters do not make furniture. At least not traditionally. Furniture making is the concern of the woodworker. A carpenter is the one who might install the furniture. 

Is a cabinetmaker a carpenter?

Technically, a true “cabinetmaker” is a woodworker, not a carpenter. However, some carpenters can make cabinets and do offer it as part of their service.

Are carpentry and woodworking the same thing?

No, they are not. Both are different professions. One (the carpenter) wears a tool belt and works mostly on the job site and concerns themselves with the building process of a house or building, like the structure but also installations of flooring, crown molding, baseboards, etc. While a woodworker is someone who creates art and furniture from wood. 

Is woodworking and carpentry considered art?

Carpentry is considered a trade, but woodworking can be considered a form of art. 

Can I apply my carpentry skills to become a woodworker? 

I would say yes, as you would be trained to work with the same tools. However, a carpenter is a little less precise (my woodworker friends would say a lot less) than a woodworker. Woodworkers have to be more accurate to create a cabinet for example, than a carpenter has to be to install flooring.

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