13 business ideas for self-employed carpenters

Are you considering becoming a self-employed carpenter? It may pay to choose a specialty. Selling yourself as a niche carpenter could help you find clients looking for your particular set of skills who are willing to spend more for someone with true expertise.

There are many types of carpenter roles you may be able to fill. Depending on your talents, you might not need additional training to get started.

Let’s explore 13 sole trader carpenter ideas, as well as how to protect your business with carpenter insurance so you can keep making money for years to come.

Rough vs. Finish Carpentry: Understanding the Difference

Before we dive into the sole trader carpenter ideas, it’s important to understand how these roles are classified.

There are generally two overall types of carpentry that you may specialize in: rough carpentry and finish carpentry.

  • Rough carpentry, sometimes called “framing” or “general carpentry”, is the structural work of a building. Rough carpentry is not visible when a building is complete, but it’s vital to the strength and durability of the structure.
  • Finish carpentry is anything that comes after rough carpentry. Because their work is visible in a finished structure, finish carpenters must produce a neat final product that looks nice.

As you can probably guess, rough carpenters and finish carpenters often work on different parts of the same projects. A rough carpenter will start a job, and the finish carpenter finishes it. It’s also common for carpenters to have both rough and finish carpentry skills, even if they have a specialty skill.

Sole Trader Carpenter Ideas

Here are 13 business ideas for self-employed carpenters.

1. Framing Carpenter

A framing carpenter, or “framer”, constructs a building’s framework. They build the skeleton that the entire project rests on, including the walls, floors and roof. Framers must follow blueprints to create buildings that are structurally sound.

Framing carpentry is generally in high demand. They are a vital part of both residential and commercial construction projects.

2. Formwork

Formwork carpenters build temporary structures to mold concrete or help support a structure until it can support itself. As a formwork carpenter, you may work with materials other than wood, such as plastic, steel or fibreglass.

Formwork carpentry is essential for many residential and commercial builds. However, it is also used in highways, bridges, and other infrastructure projects.

3. Roofing Carpenter

As the name suggests, a roofing carpenter or “roofer” is someone who works on a building’s roof. It can either refer to a rough carpenter who builds the structure that supports the roof or to a finish carpenter who installs and maintains the shingles, tiles or metal sheets that complete it.

4. Joister

Joisting is a type of rough carpentry that involves laying joists, the horizontal support for a building’s floors. These types of carpenters are often in high demand. Their expertise is crucial to creating structurally strong buildings that stand the test of time.

5. Flooring Installation

A flooring installer is a finish carpenter who installs hardwood flooring, as well as tiles, laminate, carpeting and other floor coverings. Special skills and tools are required to properly cut, sand and finish these materials, so your expertise may be in high demand.

6. Cabinetmaker

Cabinetmaking is a type of finish carpentry that focuses on building and installing custom cabinets and shelving. You will need a high degree of skill to work as a cabinetmaker, as your clients will expect precision woodworking.

7. Millworker

Millworkers make wooden pieces used in finish carpentry, including doors, windows, molding, wainscoting, trims, and stairways. Many millworkers are also cabinetmakers, as both require the same level of precision and skill.

8. Fencing and Deck Building

These types of carpenters focus on fencing and gates that help secure a property or decks that can transform an outdoor living space. Your work will primarily be completed outside, so working in different weather conditions is part of the job.

Recommended reading: Insurance for Fencing Contractors

9. Restoration Carpentry

Restoration carpenters specialize in restoring aging structures. As a restoration carpenter, you may work to preserve and modernize historic buildings. You may also be responsible for helping them meet current accessibility or energy efficiency standards.

10. Ship Carpentry

Ship carpenters, also known as “shipwrights”, use their skills in shipbuilding, repair, and maintenance. This is a rather niche woodworking business idea, and it may be best suited to carpenters living near the ocean or a major river.

11. Stage Carpentry

A stage carpenter builds sets and stage elements for theatre productions, television, and film. Your work must be safe and sturdy but also easily moved or disassembled. Most stage carpenters work in major cities with many theatres or sound stages.

12. Furniture Making

Wooden furniture is still a favourite with homeowners and interior designers. Though technically a type of woodworking (creating more decorative or artistic items from wood), furniture making does combine many rough and finish carpentry skills.

13. Kitchen and Decorative Woodworking

Another woodworking business option, creating kitchen or decorative items from wood, could also be a solid sole trader carpenter idea. Put your finish carpentry skills to the test making kitchen utensils, dishware and bowls, picture frames, jewelry boxes, and other household items from wood.

Protecting your business with carpenter insurance

There are many options for self-employed carpenters looking to build their own small businesses. Each can be a rewarding way to work for yourself, provide an in-demand service, and make money.

And while you’re starting your carpentry or woodworking business, consider carpenter insurance to protect it.

Carpenter insurance—the different types of cover available to carpenters and woodworkers—can help shield your wallet against the cost of claims, lawsuits, and unplanned expenses. Carpenters in Australia often consider:

Public Liability – This covers legal fees and compensation costs if a customer, member of the public, or a supplier claims against you for injury or damage to their property as a result of your alleged negligent business activity.

Professional Indemnity – Covers you for losses claimed by a third party & defence costs due to alleged or actual negligence in your professional services or advice.

Business Insurance – An insurance package designed to provide cover for your business contents, stock, tools and commercial premises when an insured event occurs (such as fire, storm, theft or even accidental damage).

Personal Accident & Illness – Provides a weekly income benefit following an accidental injury or illness once signed off from work by a medical practitioner for a set amount of time.

If comparing quotes for these and other types of carpenter insurance sounds too hard, don’t stress! BizCover makes it easy to compare policies from selected leading Australian insurers online and get covered in minutes.

Get your carpenter insurance sorted during morning tea, between jobs, or whenever you like! Start now.

This information is general only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It should not be relied upon as advice. As with any insurance, cover will be subject to the terms, conditions and exclusions contained in the policy wording.
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