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8 Skills You’ll Need to Become a Successful Carpenter

May 3, 2022 · 4 minutes to read

Carpenters at work - observing a product

There are many carpentry skills you will need to master on your way to becoming a carpenter. There’s a lot to learn—from general carpentry skills, like working with power tools and understanding the qualities of wood, to finish carpentry skills, such as fitting doors and installing flooring. But some of the abilities you’ll need to succeed may be less obvious.

Carpentry also tests your observation and reasoning. It can be physically and mentally demanding work that often requires you to adapt quickly to changes and do some creative problem-solving. You may need to develop skills beyond woodworking to get the job done!

Here are eight unexpected skills that every carpenter should have:

1. Math

Carpenters use math every day to plan projects. Accurately measuring spaces and materials is a big part of the job. However, this isn’t the only math you may need to practice. You’ll likely need to calculate the cost of materials and labor, as well as track your spending to ensure you stay on budget. If you run your own business, then accounting and bookkeeping may also be essential math-based carpentry skills.

2. Attention to Detail

Precision is a key element of carpentry work. Exact measurements are part of this, as well as being able to accurately read a blueprint or building plan and assess a project. However, carpenters must also understand licensing regulations, file for building permits, and follow building codes. These all require you to have keen attention to detail, as one small mistake could jeopardize your entire business!

3. Critical Thinking

Projects rarely go exactly to plan. Carpenters can use critical thinking and logic to not just solve problems but also anticipate them. Critical thinking skills might be needed during the planning phase of a project and when ordering supplies. You’ll also need time management and project management skills to keep your schedule on track and meet your deadlines.

4. Ability to Adapt

Mistakes happen, and some things are simply beyond your control. A good carpenter can roll with the punches and adapt to changes on the job. Modifying plans and calmly coming up with fixes in a pinch can help you finish projects on time despite accidents or mistakes. If you learn from your mistakes, you can hopefully avoid them in the future.

5. Strength and Stamina

Carpentry is physically demanding work. You may need to lift and carry heavy loads, climb ladders or scaffolding, and crouch in awkward spaces. Your stamina can also be tested when projects run long, and you need to put in some overtime. If you are considering becoming a carpenter, you might want to speak to your doctor about protecting your health through diet and exercise.

6. Communication

Carpentry takes teamwork, even if you are a sole proprietor. You’ll likely find yourself working side-by-side with other tradespeople and professionals, from electricians and plumbers to interior designers and decorators. Being able to communicate clearly with them could help the job go smoothly and help avoid unnecessary conflicts.

7. Customer Service

Your customers keep your business alive, so taking care of them should be a top priority! Building a good relationship with clients can be simple. A friendly smile, showing up on time, promptly replying to messages, and cleaning up your mess at the end of the day are easy ways to provide excellent customer service.

8. Risk Management

Every business faces potential risks. Identifying hazards that could threaten your carpentry business could help you minimize them. A risk management plan is the steps you take to avoid accidents and other negative events. These steps might include always disconnecting power tools when not in use, clearing worksites of nails and sharp objects, and buying business insurance.

The Carpentry Skills You Need to Succeed

Do you have what it takes to become a carpenter? Let’s recap eight carpentry skills you might not have considered:

  • Math – Geometry, Algebra, measuring, estimation, budgeting, basic accounting, etc.
  • Attention to detail – Reading blueprints, assessing a project’s needs, following complex building codes, licensing and permit requirements, etc.
  • Critical thinking – Problem-solving, time management, ordering, etc.
  • Ability to adapt – Troubleshooting, learning from mistakes, etc.
  • Strength and stamina – Lifting and carrying heavy loads, climbing, crouching, bending, etc.
  • Communication – Written and verbal interaction, conflict resolution, etc.
  • Customer service – Showing up on time, replying promptly, keeping workspace tidy, respecting client’s property, etc.
  • Risk management – Disconnecting power tools, properly disposing of hazardous materials, having General Liability and other forms of insurance coverage, etc.

If you have mastered these seven areas, along with traditional woodworking and carpentry skills, you may be well on your way to becoming a carpenter.

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