Carpentry is a skilled trade in which the primary work performed is the cutting, shaping and installation of building materials during the construction of buildings, ships, timber bridges, concrete formwork, etc. Carpenters traditionally worked with natural wood and did the rougher work such as framing, but today many other materials are also used and sometimes the finer trades of cabinetmaking and furniture building are considered carpentry. Carpentry in the United States is almost always done by men. With 98.5% of carpenters being male, it was the fourth most male-dominated occupation in the country in 1999. and there were about 1.5 million positions in 2006.
- 1 Etymology
- 2 Training
- 3 Materials used
- 4 Types and occupations
- 5 Notable carpenters
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
The word "carpenter" is the English rendering of the Old French word carpentier (later, charpentier) which is derived from the Latin carpentrius [artifex], "(maker) of a carriage. The Middle English and Scots word (in the sense of "builder") was wright (from the Old English wryhta), which could be used in compound forms such as wheelwright or boatwright. In British slang, a carpenter is sometimes referred to as a "chippy".
Use of terms in the United Kingdom
In the UK, carpentry is more correctly used to describe the skill involved only in first fixing of timber items and mainly covers the construction of roofs, floors and timber framed buildings, i.e., those areas of construction that are normally hidden in a finished building. Second fix work, the construction of items such as skirting boards, architraves, and doors, is more correctly referred to as joinery. Carpentry is also used to construct the formwork into which concrete is poured during the building of structures such as roads and highway overpasses. In the UK, the skill of making timber formwork for poured, or in situ, concrete, is referred to as shuttering. While the primary material used in carpentry is wood, the construction of walls with metal studs and concrete formwork with reusable metal forms is considered a carpentry skill.
Use of terms in the United States
Carpentry in the United States is historically defined similarly to the United Kingdom as the "heavier and stronger" work distinguished from a joiner "...who does lighter and more ornamental work than that of a carpenter..." although the "...work of a carpenter and joiner are often combined." Joiner is less common than the terms finish carpenter or cabinetmaker. The terms housewright and barnwright were used historically, now occasionally used by carpenters who work using traditional methods and materials. Someone who builds custom concrete formwork is a form carpenter.
Carpentry requires training which involves both acquiring knowledge and physical practice. In formal training a carpenter begins as an apprentice became a journeyman and with enough experience and competency becomes a master carpenter. Today pre-apprenticeship training may be gained through non-union vocational programs such as high school shop classes and community colleges.
Informally a laborer may simply work alongside carpenters for years learning skills by observation and peripheral assistance. While such an individual may obtain journeyman status by paying the union entry fee and obtaining a journeyman's card (which provides the right to work on a union carpentry crew) the carpenter foreman will, by necessity, dismiss any worker who presents the card but does not demonstrate the expected skill level.
Carpenters may work for an employer or be self-employed. No matter what kind of training a carpenter has had, some U. S. states require contractors to be licensed which requires passing a written test and having minimum levels of insurance.
Carpentry schools and programs
Formal training in the carpentry trade is available in seminars, certificate programs, high school programs, online classes, associate degree programs, and advanced college degrees in the new construction, restoration, and preservation carpentry fields. Sometimes these programs are called pre-apprenticeship training.
In the modern British construction industry, carpenters are trained through apprenticeship schemes where general certificate of secondary educations (GCSE) in Mathematics, English, and Technology help but are not essential. However, this is deemed the preferred route, as young people can earn and gain field experience whilst training towards a nationally recognized qualification.
There are two main divisions of training: 1) construction carpentry, and 2) cabinetmaking. During pre-apprenticeship, trainees in each of these divisions spend 30 hours a week for 12 weeks in classrooms and indoor workshops learning mathematics, trade terminology, and skill in the use of hand and power tools. Construction carpentry trainees also participate in calisthenics to prepare for the physical aspect of the work.
Upon completion of pre-apprenticeship, trainees who have successfully passed the graded curriculum (taught by highly experienced journeyman carpenters) are assigned to a local union and to union carpentry crews at work on construction sites or in cabinet shops as First Year Apprentices. Over the next four years, as they progress in status to Second Year, Third Year, and Fourth Year Apprentice, apprentices periodically return to the training facility every three months for a week of more detailed training in specific aspects of the trade.
Apprenticeships and Journeymen carpenters
Tradesmen in countries such as Germany are required to fulfill a formal apprenticeship (usually three years) to work as a professional carpenter. Upon graduation from the apprenticeship, he or she is known as a journeyman carpenter.
Up through the 19th and even the early 20th century, the journeyman traveled to another region of the country to learn the building styles and techniques of that area before (usually) returning home. In modern times, journeymen are not required to travel, and the term now refers to a level of proficiency and skill. Union carpenters in the United States, that is, members of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, are required to pass a skills test to be granted official journeyman status, but uncertified professional carpenters may also be known as journeymen based on their skill level, years of experience, or simply because they support themselves in the trade and not due to any certification or formal woodworking education.
Professional status as a journeyman carpenter in the United States may be obtained in a number of ways. Formal training is acquired in a four-year apprenticeship program administered by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, in which journeyman status is obtained after successful completion of twelve weeks of pre-apprenticeship training, followed by four years of on-the-job field training working alongside journeyman carpenters. The Timber Framers Guild also has a formal apprenticeship program for traditional timber framing. Training is also available in groups like the Kim Bồng woodworking village in Vietnam where apprentices live and work to learn woodworking and carpentry skills.
In Canada, each province sets its own standards for apprenticeship. The average length of time is four years and includes a minimum number of hours of both on-the-job training and technical instruction at a college or other institution. Depending on the number of hours of instruction an apprentice receives, he or she can earn a Certificate of Proficiency, making him or her a journeyman, or a Certificate of Qualification, which allows him or her to practice a more limited amount of carpentry. Canadian carpenters also have the option of acquiring an additional Interprovincial Red Seal that allows them to practice anywhere in Canada. The Red Seal requires the completion of an apprenticeship and an additional examination.
After working as a journeyman for a while, a carpenter may go on to study or test as a master carpenter. In some countries, such as Germany and Japan, this is an arduous and expensive process, requiring extensive knowledge (including economic and legal knowledge) and skill to achieve master certification; these countries generally require master status for anyone employing and teaching apprentices in the craft. In others, 'master carpenter' can be a loosely used term to describe any skilled carpenter.
Carpenters traditionally worked with natural wood which has been called lumber (American English) or timber (British English). Today there are many building materials a carpenter may use which are typically prepared by others and delivered to the job site.
Types and occupations
A finish carpenter (North America), also called a joiner (a traditional name now rare in North America), is one who does finish carpentry, that is, cabinetry, furniture making, fine woodworking, model building, instrument making, parquetry, joinery, or other carpentry where exact joints and minimal margins of error are important. Some large-scale construction may be of an exactitude and artistry that it is classed as finish carpentry.
A trim carpenter specializes in molding and trim, such as door and window casings, mantels, baseboards, and other types of ornamental work. Cabinet installers may also be referred to as trim carpenters.
A ship's carpenter specializes in shipbuilding, maintenance, and repair techniques (see also shipwright) and carpentry specific to nautical needs; usually the term refers to a carpenter who has a post on a specific ship. Steel warships as well as wooden ones need ship's carpenters, especially for making emergency repairs in the case of battle or storm damage.
A framer is a carpenter who builds the skeletal structure or wooden framework of buildings, most often in the platform framing method. Historically, balloon framing was used until the 1950s when fire safety concerns made platform framing inherently better. A carpenter who specializes in building with timbers rather than studs is known as a timber framer and does traditional timber framing with wooden joints, including mortise-and-tenon joinery, post and beam work with metal connectors, or pole building framing.
A luthier is someone who makes or repairs stringed instruments. The word luthier comes from the French word for lute, "luth".
In Japanese carpentry, daiku is the simple term for carpenter, a miya-daiku (temple carpenter) performs the work of both architect and builder of shrines and temples, and a sukiya-daiku works on teahouse construction and houses. Sashimono-shi build furniture and tateguya do interior finishing work.
A restoration carpenter is a carpenter who works in historic building restoration.
Green carpentry is the specialization in the use of environmentally friendly, energy-efficient and sustainable sources of building materials for use in construction projects. They also practice building methods that require using less material and material that has the same structural soundness.
- Roza, Greg. A career as a carpenter. New York: Rosen Pub., 2011. 6. Print.
- "Evidence From Census 2000 About Earnings by Detailed Occupation for Men and Women. Census 2000 Special Reports, May 2004." (PDF). Retrieved 2006-09-02.
- Roza, Greg. A career as a carpenter. New York: Rosen Pub., 2011. 7. Print.
- The American heritage dictionary of the English language - Etymology of the word "carpenter"
- The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000.
- "Carpenter." Def. 1. Oxford English Dictionary Second Edition on CD-ROM (v. 4.0) © Oxford University Press 2009
- Whitney, William D., ed.. "Carpenter." Def, 1. The Century Dictionary: An Encyclopedic Lexicon of the English Language vol. 1. New York. The Century Co. 1895. 830. Print.
- Lee Butler, "Patronage and the Building Arts in Tokugawa Japan", Early Modern Japan. Fall-Winter 2004 
- "Environmentally Friendly Building Materials". McMullen Carpenters And Joiners. 2009-04-10. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- "A Green Home Begins with ENERGY STAR Blue". Energystar. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
- "Green Building Basics". Ciwmb.ca.gov. Retrieved 2012-05-21.
- "Defining Green-Collar Jobs". "There is no consensus on how to define green-collar jobs. A very broad interpretation of green jobs would include all existing and new jobs that contribute to environmental quality through improved efficiencies, better resource management, and other technologies that successfully address the environmental challenges facing society. Probably the most concise, general definition is “well-paid, career track jobs that contribute directly to preserving or enhancing environmental quality” (Apollo Alliance 2008, 3). This definition suggests that green-collar jobs directly contribute to improving environmental quality, but would not include low-wage jobs that provide little mobility. Most discussion of green-collar jobs does not refer to positions that require a college degree, but they typically do involve training beyond high school. Many of the positions are similar to skilled, blue-collar jobs, such as electricians, welders, carpenters, etc."
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