A Comprehensive Guide to becoming a Cabinet Maker

Cabinet makers specialise in timber-based products with a wide variety of other materials that can be used to make cabinets and other forms of furniture of all kinds of varieties.

As is true with trades of any variety, it’s one that requires time, training and technique to become a skilled cabinet maker. If you are creating a custom cabinet, or a fine piece of furniture the precision level is going to be different than just framing a house.

Cabinet makers are one of the most skilled woodworkers. They use anything from tools of the 18th century to modern computers and production equipment. It takes years of hard work to become a master of the craft. Noted below are a few of the requirements and skills needed to become a great cabinet maker.

What are the Personal Requirements of a Cabinet Maker?

In order to be a good cabinet maker, you should possess the following skills:

  • Enjoying working with one’s hands
  • An ability to follow directions
  • Capable of complete technical accuracy
  • Proficient with mathematical calculations
  • Able to communicate well
  • Accurate hand-eye coordination
  • Teamwork and strong work ethic
  • No dust allergy

What are the Duties & Tasks of a Cabinet Maker?

Like any other skilled labour position, a cabinet maker must complete several duties and tasks in order to successfully complete a project.

While specific duties will vary based on individual jobs, here are some of the general tasks that most cabinet makers will need to undertake:

  • Figure out what exactly the client wants
  • Use proper materials and styles to fit the client
  • Make correct estimates of cost to the client
  • Draw and measure designs and layouts for manufactured pieces
  • Interpret and read work-related papers to accurately create cutting lists
  • Operate CAD or computer aided design or CNC (computer numerical control) machines
  • Have a proper understanding of and correctly select timber products for furniture production
  • Create custom furniture designs
  • Assemble and prepare cabinets or prefab installation
  • Correctly select and install handles and hinges
  • Complete repairs or adjustment on cabinets onsite
  • Keep work areas tidy to create a safe work environment
  • Repair or refurbish old antiques or furniture
  • Adding custom details to furniture and cabinetry using a steady hand

The Training Requirements for Cabinet Makers

While cabinetmaking is typically an apprentice type career, there are certificate programs that take about a year or two to complete at many universities, colleges, and vocational schools. These courses typically consist of computer-based cabinetmaking, deciphering different kinds of wood, how to estimate and order materials, and how to turn those materials into a finished product.

Even though an official degree isn’t a requirement nowadays, it does provide employers a sense of comfort to know that someone has been trained properly for a job and could possibly be the reason if you get hired or not. Studying industry trends, reading books and frequenting trade shows to keep up with the latest technology are all great ideas on making yourself stand out.

Gaining Experience

Gaining experience is a very important part of becoming skilled in any skilled trade. It is said that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to become a master of any skill and it can take about a year to learn just the basics of cabinetmaking. Certificates and degrees provide essential hands-on training to help cabinet makers more skilled and could potentially lessen some work experience requirements.

By working about 2,000 hours per year as an apprentice will help you learn the required skill set to become a cabinet maker, such as using hand and power tools, correct measurements, joining and fitting techniques, material choice and safety standards. For those that wish to work commercially, there are bachelors and even master’s degrees in woodwork technology and engineering.

What are the Risks with Cabinet Making?

As with any manual labour job, cabinetmaking has its fair share of risks. Some of these risks include physical strain due to heavy materials, injury due to tool misuse, and more. A great way to avoid these risks is by simply being aware of the hazards that surround you. Be sure to use proper ventilation and safety tools to reduce the risk of injury. Insurance options for cabinet makers should also be considered.


Employment Opportunities for a Cabinet maker

There are a lot of different career paths for a cabinet maker to follow. In some instances, they can become employed by large furniture manufacturers who create cabinetry for bathrooms, kitchens, or other prefab wood materials. Most of these companies are small businesses that have focused consumers, like homeowners, apartment complexes, or residential and commercial customers.

There are also opportunities for experienced cabinet makers to become supervisors, managers, or even operate their own business. This is an industry that is truly a sky’s the limit vocation, where a candidate’s effort and desire make a big impact on their career opportunities.

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