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What is The Difference Between Carpentry and Woodworking?

May 16, 2023

If you want to learn the main differences between carpenters and woodworkers, this article is for you. Both industries work within their craft to build and create using wood materials. These crafters and tradespeople utilize various tools and machinery to bring a client’s vision to life. From an outsider’s perspective, a carpenter and a woodworker seem like the same occupation; however, they are not. We’ll discuss each job and their industry differences.


Carpentry is installing items like cabinets, flooring, framework, and other construction-related projects. A carpenter is a subcontractor who installs building components made from wood. Since carpenters install various wooden structures like framing, they often work on job sites. If you think about home building, then you can think about carpentry.

If you look around at your home, you’ll quickly see the work of a carpenter. Your kitchen cabinets, mounted and installed with precision, are thanks to a skilled carpenter. Your windows and doors are framed and secured with the work of a talented carpenter. When you’re a business owner, you’ve planned every square foot of your building, and you can thank a carpenter for framing and installing items to your specifications.


Joinery is another term you should be familiar with as we discuss the differences between carpentry and woodworking. According to the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, “Joiners are employed in a workshop producing complex building components by setting out, marking out and producing assembled components requiring advanced skilled work including the full range of woodworking machines. There will sometimes be a need for refurbishment/repair work of bespoke pieces. They have an in-depth knowledge of various manufacturing components from a range of hardwoods and softwoods.”

Carpentry has various additional job titles and descriptions like the joiner title. Each similar title uses these tools and others.

Tools Carpenters Use:

  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Levels
  • Plane
  • Mallet
  • Steel Square
  • Pencil
  • Tin snips
  • Circular Saws
  • Clamps
  • Table Saw
  • Chalk Line
  • Tape Measurer
  • Drills
  • Nail Pullers


Woodworking is an artistic and creative industry focusing on details like engraving. Woodworkers generally have more freedom with the design and creation process. They may use similar tools in various ways; however, woodworkers use CNC machinery. These crafters use the CNC mills and routers to create their projects, especially on a larger scale for mass production of furniture items and cabinetry. Woodworkers craft both large and small-scale creations using natural and engineered wood. After production, these skilled artisans add architectural details, intricate engravings, and distinctive features that elevate their work.

Generally, woodworkers create in a warehouse-like building, where suppliers bring lumber and materials for these people to build and manufacture items. Woodworkers also create figurines, sculptures, trinkets, etc. These items require precision with carving tools and drill bits after carvers cut the initial materials. Take a look around your home. You’ll notice the craftsmanship in everything from the detailed cabinetry to the ornate designs on doors and the carvings adorning tables and chairs. These elegant pieces are the handiwork of skilled woodworkers.

There are also various additional occupations within the woodworking industry. Terms you can be familiar with:

  • Carver: wood sculpture
  • Furniture Makers: creates furniture
  • Framers: frame flooring, windows, doors
  • Luthiers: build musical instruments
  • Whittlers: hobbyist woodworker
  • Wood Burners: burns wood as an art

Each industry also uses more than we might list, but these are the tools woodworkers and similar occupations use.

Tools Woodworkers Use:

  • CNC Router
  • CNC Router
  • Saws
  • Shapers
  • Planers
  • Carving Tools
  • Sanders
  • Drill Presses
  • Wood-fastening Machines
  • Hammer
  • Nails

Carpentry and Woodworking Education

You should know a few things if you’re interested in starting a career in carpentry or woodworking. If you’re looking to pick this occupation up, you’ll need to invest in education and the tools of the trade. Consider a career as an architectural woodworker, where the standards and quality are high. If you’re interested in what AWI offers, check out our post. Check out our Quality Certification Programs for more education information.

You can invest in carpentry education through various programs local to your area. You can also check out the National Association of Remodeling Industry. They offer many programs within the remodeling community, and they also provide a Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC) program. Another great resource is the National Center for Construction Education and Resources. They offer an in-depth apprenticeship program that matches the U.S. Department of Labor’s standards. If you’re looking for a faster career route, they also provide trainee programs for finish and form carpenters.

Carpenters and woodworkers each work with wood materials and manufacture wood items. However, their occupations use different tools, require unique education and certification, and require various techniques for creation and installation.

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