Carpentry is a highly skilled business that can be very lucrative if you have the right skillset to succeed. However, there may be important skills you’ve overlooked. If you are starting out in the carpentry business, or looking to improve your trade services, here are 6 skills that are essential for any successful carpenter.
1. Maths skills
Carpentry doesn’t require a degree in advanced mathematics, however every carpenter is going to use maths virtually every day in their work. You have to know how to measure accurately, how to use angles, how to scale up designs, and use other basic math proficiencies. Any mistakes can be costly or even dangerous, so be sure to carefully review your work and “measure twice, cut once”. Don’t panic if your mental arithmetic skills aren’t the best—even the cheapest mobile phones now include calculator apps!
2. Handling hardware
The carpentry business involves the use of many different types of machinery, ranging from a simple hammer to large table saws. You should try to familiarise yourself with as many different types of tools as possible, what they are for, how they are used, and most importantly how to protect yourself while using them. If necessary, sign up for additional classes or ask a more experienced carpenter you’re working with if they could show you how to use specific tools in the most effective way.
You don’t have to be able to run ultramarathons to be a carpenter, but a good level of physical fitness can help. Carpenters spend much of the day working on their feet, and the job involves a substantial amount of heavy lifting and may entail working in awkward positions for long periods. Even basic skills like sawing wood may require strength and endurance. Make sure you keep in shape, stay hydrated and eat a good diet. Taking classes, such as yoga or pilates, to keep yourself flexible could also pay dividends.
4. Interpersonal skills
Even if you’re a sole proprietor, you still might find yourself working in a team. Building projects may involve other carpenters, electricians, bricklayers, plumbers, gas engineers, architects and many others. Not all of these people are going to be from your same background, ethnicity or gender. Being able to get along with a wide range of people can help you collaborate more efficiently and create a better working environment.
5. An eye for detail
When you start working with more experienced carpenters, you will be amazed by how much they can assess by eye. People who have been in the trade for years can often assess distances and angles to within millimetres almost immediately. You won’t have this skill immediately, and it is never a substitute for measuring properly, but you should take every opportunity to develop your ability to visualise what is needed in any particular situation.
6. Creative problem-solving skills
This skill will help you with every aspect of carpentry, from creating your own designs to making repairs on other people’s work. You need to think creatively when you come up against problems that present significant challenges. Thinking “out of the box” to come up with innovative and original solutions is not only useful but highly satisfying. Many of the best carpenters also enjoy carpentry as a hobby, building their own creations and enhancing their problem-solving skills by doing so.
There is a lot to be learned if you want to be a success in the carpentry business. There are many ways to gain the necessary skills and experience, whether that’s attending carpentry courses full-time, becoming an apprentice to an experienced carpenter, learning on your own, or a combination of all three.
No matter how you choose to develop your carpentry skills, don’t forget to properly protect yourself against accidents and client claims that may happen in the course of your work. Carpentry insurance is one way to do this, by choosing policies to cover the common risks you are likely to face as a carpenter.
Learn more about Carpentry insurance.
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