Cabinetmakers & Bench Carpenters


Cabinetmakers and bench carpenters build and repair wooden cabinets and furniture
Have a keen eye for detail? Are you handy with tools and woodworking? Learn a craft that will allow you to put both to work!
Why Should You Consider This Career?

1. Work with a variety of materials. 2. Work with a variety of tools. 3. Work with a variety of people

That's $3,300 per bi-weekly paycheck
That's 2000 new jobs in Utah per year (30% growth)
Less Physical                                         More Physical
Less Training                                          More Training
More Structure                                     Less Structure
Cabinet Assembler, Cabinet Builder, Cabinet Installer, Cabinetmaker, Double End Tenon Operator, Frame Builder, Framer, Woodworker

Cabinetmaker Career Guide: Salary Insights, Overview, and Steps to Join the Trade

Cabinetmaking is a skilled trade that involves crafting and installing cabinets, furniture, and other wooden structures. If you're considering a career in cabinetmaking, this career guide will provide you with salary insights, an overview of the profession, and the steps you need to take to join the trade.

Overview of Cabinetmakers | What do Cabinetmakers do?

Before diving into the details, let's understand what cabinetmakers do. Cabinetmakers are skilled craftsmen who design, build, and install cabinets and other wooden structures. They work with various tools, such as saws, drills, and lathes, to shape and assemble wood into functional and aesthetically pleasing pieces.

Cabinetmakers often work with different types of wood, including hardwoods like oak and cherry, as well as engineered timber products like plywood. They may also work with laminates, veneers, and other materials to add finishing touches to their creations.

When it comes to designing cabinets, cabinetmakers employ their creativity and expertise to create unique and customized pieces. They consider factors such as the available space, the client's preferences, and the overall style of the room or space where the cabinets will be installed. Cabinetmakers often collaborate with interior designers or architects to ensure that the cabinets seamlessly blend with the overall design scheme.

Once the design is finalized, cabinetmakers meticulously select the appropriate materials for the project. They carefully inspect the wood for any imperfections, ensuring that only the highest quality materials are used. Cabinetmakers also take into account the durability and longevity of the chosen materials, as cabinets are expected to withstand daily use and last for many years.

Using their extensive knowledge of woodworking techniques, cabinetmakers transform raw materials into functional pieces of furniture. They carefully measure, cut, and shape the wood, paying attention to every detail to ensure precise and accurate construction. Cabinetmakers use a variety of joinery methods, such as dovetail joints and mortise and tenon joints, to create strong and durable connections between different parts of the cabinets.

Once the individual components are ready, cabinetmakers skillfully assemble them, ensuring that everything fits together perfectly. They use clamps, adhesives, and fasteners to secure the pieces in place, creating sturdy and stable cabinets. Cabinetmakers also pay close attention to the alignment and symmetry of the cabinets, ensuring that they are aesthetically pleasing and visually balanced.

After the cabinets are built, cabinetmakers meticulously sand and finish the surfaces. They use sandpaper and various finishing techniques to achieve a smooth and polished appearance. Cabinetmakers may also apply stains, paints, or varnishes to enhance the natural beauty of the wood or to match the desired color scheme.

Once the cabinets are complete, cabinetmakers carefully install them in the designated space. They ensure that the cabinets are level, properly aligned, and securely attached to the walls or floor. Cabinetmakers also make any necessary adjustments or modifications to ensure a perfect fit and functionality.

In addition to cabinets, cabinetmakers may also create other wooden structures, such as bookcases, entertainment centers, and custom furniture pieces. They have the skills and expertise to bring any woodworking project to life, providing functional and beautiful solutions for residential and commercial spaces alike.

Cabinetmaker Salary | How much do Cabinetmakers make?

When considering a career as a cabinetmaker, it is important to have a clear understanding of the potential salary that comes with the profession. The salary of a cabinetmaker can vary significantly based on a multitude of factors such as experience, location, and the type of employer.

According to recent data, the median annual wage for cabinetmakers in the United States is $37,760. However, it is important to note that this figure is merely an average and should not be considered as an absolute reflection of the salary range. The actual salary can deviate from this figure, depending on various factors that influence the cabinetmaker's earning potential.

Experience is a crucial determinant of a cabinetmaker's salary. Entry-level cabinetmakers, who are just starting their careers, can expect to earn around $24,000 annually. As they gain more experience and refine their skills, their earning potential increases significantly. Highly experienced cabinetmakers, who have honed their craft over the years, can earn over $57,000 per year.

Aside from experience, the location in which a cabinetmaker practices their craft can also impact their salary. Different regions have varying demands for cabinetmakers, which can affect the compensation offered. For instance, cabinetmakers working in metropolitan areas or regions with a high demand for custom-made furniture may enjoy higher salaries compared to those working in rural areas with less demand.

Furthermore, the type of employer a cabinetmaker works for can also influence their salary. Cabinetmakers who are employed by large furniture manufacturing companies or high-end custom furniture shops may receive higher salaries due to the size and reputation of the company. On the other hand, cabinetmakers who are self-employed or work for smaller, local businesses may have more control over their pricing and profit margins.

It is important to note that the figures mentioned above are approximate and can vary depending on various factors. Cabinetmakers should consider these factors when evaluating their earning potential and negotiating their salaries. Additionally, it is crucial for cabinetmakers to continuously update their skills and stay informed about industry trends in order to remain competitive in the job market and potentially increase their earning potential.

A Day in the Life of a Cabinetmaker

Now that you have an overview of cabinetmakers and their salaries, let's dive into a typical day in the life of a cabinetmaker.

In the morning, a cabinetmaker may start their day by reviewing plans and measurements for upcoming projects. They may discuss the details with clients or project managers to ensure clear communication and understanding of expectations.

Once the plans are reviewed, a cabinetmaker will proceed to select the appropriate materials for the project. They may inspect the quality of the wood and make necessary adjustments if needed.

Next, the cabinetmaker will use their skills and tools to shape the wood into the required pieces. This involves cutting, joining, and assembling the various components. Precise measurements and attention to detail are critical at this stage.

After the pieces are ready, the cabinetmaker will apply finishes, such as varnish or paint, to enhance the appearance and protect the wood. They may also install hardware, such as handles or hinges, to complete the project.

Throughout the day, a cabinetmaker may also communicate with clients, suppliers, and other team members to ensure smooth progress and successful completion of projects.

In addition to their technical skills, cabinetmakers often possess a deep knowledge of wood species and their characteristics. They understand how different types of wood behave and can choose the most suitable material for each project. This expertise allows them to create cabinets that are not only visually appealing but also durable and long-lasting.

Furthermore, cabinetmakers are skilled problem solvers. They encounter various challenges during the construction process, such as fitting cabinets into tight spaces or addressing structural issues. They have the ability to think creatively and find innovative solutions to these problems, ensuring that the final product meets the client's needs and expectations.

Another important aspect of a cabinetmaker's day is maintaining a clean and organized workspace. They understand the importance of cleanliness and safety in their profession. By keeping their tools and work area tidy, they can work efficiently and minimize the risk of accidents or mistakes.

Moreover, cabinetmakers often have a keen eye for design. They understand the principles of aesthetics and can create cabinets that harmonize with the overall style of a space. Whether it's a modern, minimalist kitchen or a traditional, rustic living room, cabinetmakers have the ability to tailor their work to suit the client's desired aesthetic.

Lastly, a cabinetmaker's day is not just about technical skills and craftsmanship. They also need to have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. They interact with clients, suppliers, and other team members on a regular basis, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and that projects run smoothly. Effective communication is key to building strong relationships and delivering high-quality work.

Ideal Traits and Skills for a Cabinetmaker

Being a cabinetmaker requires a unique combination of skills and traits. Let's explore some of the key qualities that can contribute to success in this profession.

Attention to detail: Cabinetmakers must pay close attention to details to ensure precise measurements and seamless craftsmanship. A tiny mistake can affect the functionality and aesthetics of the final product.

Manual dexterity: Working with various tools and materials requires excellent hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. Cabinetmakers must be comfortable using saws, drills, and other equipment with precision.

Creativity: As cabinetmakers, creativity plays a crucial role in designing and crafting unique pieces. The ability to visualize the end product and make creative decisions is essential.

Problem-solving skills: Cabinetmakers often encounter challenges while working on projects. Quick problem-solving skills allow them to overcome obstacles and find efficient solutions.

Patience: Crafting cabinets and furniture can be a time-consuming process. Patience is necessary to ensure meticulous work and achieve high-quality results.

In addition to these fundamental traits and skills, there are several other aspects that contribute to the success of a cabinetmaker. One such aspect is a solid understanding of different types of wood and their characteristics. Each type of wood has its own unique properties, such as grain patterns, durability, and susceptibility to moisture. A skilled cabinetmaker knows how to select the right type of wood for each project, taking into consideration factors such as the intended use of the piece, the desired aesthetic, and the client's preferences.

Another important skill for a cabinetmaker is the ability to read and interpret blueprints and technical drawings. These documents provide detailed instructions and measurements for each component of a cabinet or piece of furniture. Being able to accurately understand and follow these instructions is crucial to ensure that the final product meets the client's specifications.

Furthermore, a cabinetmaker must have a good understanding of different joinery techniques. Joinery refers to the method used to connect different pieces of wood together, such as dovetail joints, mortise and tenon joints, and biscuit joints. Each technique has its own strengths and weaknesses, and a skilled cabinetmaker knows when and how to use each one to create strong and durable connections.

Additionally, knowledge of finishing techniques is essential for a cabinetmaker. Finishing involves the application of coatings, such as varnish or lacquer, to protect the wood and enhance its appearance. Cabinetmakers must have a good understanding of different finishing techniques, as well as the ability to achieve smooth and even finishes.

Lastly, a successful cabinetmaker must possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills. This profession often involves working closely with clients, interior designers, and other professionals in the construction industry. Effective communication is necessary to understand the client's vision, provide updates on the progress of a project, and address any concerns or changes that may arise during the process.

In conclusion, being a cabinetmaker requires a combination of technical skills, creativity, attention to detail, problem-solving abilities, patience, and a deep understanding of wood and its properties. By possessing these qualities and continuously honing their craft, cabinetmakers can create beautiful and functional pieces of furniture that stand the test of time.

How long will it take to become a Cabinetmaker | Training and Educational Path for Cabinetmakers

If you're interested in becoming a cabinetmaker, you may wonder about the training and educational path involved. The duration and requirements can vary depending on your location and personal circumstances.

In general, aspiring cabinetmakers can pursue formal training programs, such as vocational schools or community college courses. These programs typically range from several months to two years.

During the training, you'll learn about woodworking techniques, reading blueprints, using tools, and other essential aspects of the trade. Hands-on practice is a crucial part of developing the necessary skills and expertise.

Woodworking techniques encompass a wide range of skills, including joinery, shaping, and finishing. Joinery involves creating strong and seamless joints between pieces of wood, ensuring the stability and durability of the final product. Shaping refers to the process of carving and sculpting wood to achieve specific designs and forms. Finishing techniques involve applying stains, varnishes, or paints to enhance the appearance of the cabinets.

Reading blueprints is another vital skill for cabinetmakers. Blueprints provide detailed instructions and measurements for constructing cabinets. Understanding how to interpret these blueprints accurately is essential to ensure precise and accurate craftsmanship.

Using tools is a fundamental aspect of a cabinetmaker's work. From hand tools like chisels, saws, and planes to power tools like table saws, routers, and sanders, cabinetmakers must be proficient in utilizing a wide array of tools. Learning how to handle these tools safely and efficiently is crucial for both productivity and personal safety.

After completing the initial training, gaining practical experience through apprenticeships or entry-level positions can further enhance your skills and knowledge. Working under the guidance of experienced cabinetmakers allows you to refine your craft and learn industry-specific techniques.

During apprenticeships, you'll have the opportunity to work on real projects, collaborating with experienced professionals and applying the skills you've learned. This hands-on experience is invaluable for developing problem-solving abilities and honing your craftsmanship.

Entry-level positions in cabinetmaking can also provide valuable learning opportunities. These positions often involve working in a team environment, where you can learn from your colleagues and gain exposure to different styles and approaches to cabinetry.

Additionally, engaging in continuous learning and staying updated with industry trends and advancements is essential for cabinetmakers. The field of woodworking is constantly evolving, with new materials, techniques, and technologies emerging. By attending workshops, seminars, and trade shows, you can expand your knowledge and stay at the forefront of the industry.

In conclusion, the path to becoming a cabinetmaker involves formal training programs, hands-on practice, apprenticeships, and continuous learning. The duration of the journey can vary depending on various factors, but with dedication, passion, and a commitment to honing your craft, you can embark on a fulfilling career as a skilled cabinetmaker.

Necessary Certifications for Cabinetmakers

While there are no specific certifications required to become a cabinetmaker, obtaining industry-recognized certifications can demonstrate your expertise and give you a competitive edge in the job market.

Becoming a skilled cabinetmaker requires a combination of technical knowledge, practical skills, and a keen eye for detail. It is a craft that demands precision and creativity. While experience and a strong portfolio are crucial for success in this field, certifications can further enhance your professional profile.

One of the leading organizations that offer certifications for cabinetmakers is the Woodwork Career Alliance (WCA). The WCA offers a comprehensive certification program that evaluates and verifies an individual's woodworking skills. This certification program covers a wide range of competencies, including tool identification, safety protocols, joinery techniques, and finishing methods.

By obtaining the WCA certification, you not only demonstrate your technical proficiency but also showcase your commitment to maintaining industry standards. This certification can be a valuable asset when applying for jobs, as it provides potential employers with a tangible measure of your skills and expertise.

In addition to the WCA certification, another notable organization that offers certifications for cabinetmakers is the Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI). The AWI certification program focuses on the specific requirements of architectural woodwork and millwork projects. This certification is particularly valuable for cabinetmakers who work on high-end residential or commercial projects.

The AWI certification program assesses a cabinetmaker's ability to interpret architectural drawings, produce accurate shop drawings, and execute complex joinery. It also evaluates their knowledge of different wood species, finishing techniques, and installation practices. By earning the AWI certification, you demonstrate your ability to meet the rigorous standards set by the architectural woodworking industry.

It is important to note that certification requirements may vary among different organizations and regions. Therefore, it is essential to research and choose certifications that align with your career goals and location. Some certifications may require a combination of written exams, practical assessments, and documented work experience. It is advisable to thoroughly review the certification requirements and prepare accordingly.

Ultimately, obtaining industry-recognized certifications can help you stand out in a competitive job market. They provide employers with confidence in your abilities and can open doors to exciting opportunities in the cabinetmaking industry. So, if you aspire to be a highly skilled cabinetmaker, consider pursuing certifications that showcase your expertise and dedication to your craft.

Career Advancement in Cabinetmaking

With experience and continuous learning, cabinetmakers can advance in their careers and take on more challenging and rewarding roles. Here are some potential career advancement opportunities for cabinetmakers:

  1. Lead Cabinetmaker: In this role, you'll oversee a team of cabinetmakers, coordinate projects, and ensure quality control.
  2. Specialized Cabinetmaker: By developing expertise in specific areas, such as custom furniture or architectural millwork, you can become a sought-after specialist.
  3. Self-Employment: With the necessary skills and business acumen, you can start your own cabinetmaking business and work on projects of your choosing.

Remember, career advancement in cabinetmaking is often a result of dedication, continuous learning, and building a strong reputation in the industry.

Why Choose a Career in Cabinetmaking?

Choosing a career in cabinetmaking offers several benefits and opportunities. Let's explore some compelling reasons to consider this trade:

  • Creativity: Cabinetmaking allows you to express your creativity and bring your design ideas to life through woodwork.
  • Job Satisfaction: Seeing a project come together and knowing that your skills and craftsmanship have contributed to someone's home or workplace can provide a great sense of satisfaction.
  • Continuous Demand: The need for cabinets and furniture is ever-present. As a cabinetmaker, you can expect a steady demand for your skills.
  • Career Stability: Skilled trades, like cabinetmaking, often provide stable career paths with room for growth and advancement.

If you enjoy working with your hands, have a passion for woodworking, and appreciate the beauty of well-crafted furniture, a career in cabinetmaking can be a fulfilling choice.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cabinetmakers

Here are some common questions often asked about cabinetmakers:

  1. 1. Is cabinetmaking physically demanding?
    Yes, cabinetmaking can be physically demanding as it involves manual labor, lifting heavy materials, and standing for extended periods. However, proper tools and techniques can help minimize strain and ensure safety.
  2. 2. Can I work as a cabinetmaker part-time?
    Yes, part-time opportunities may be available in the cabinetmaking industry. These could be freelance projects or working with smaller businesses that require occasional help.
  3. 3. Are there any health and safety considerations for cabinetmakers?
    Yes, cabinetmakers should follow proper safety protocols, including wearing protective gear, using tools correctly, and maintaining a clean and organized workspace. Attention to ergonomics is also important to prevent strains or injuries.
  4. 4. Are there opportunities to specialize in specific types of cabinetmaking?
    Absolutely! Cabinetmakers can specialize in areas like kitchen cabinets, fine furniture, architectural millwork, or custom cabinetry. Specializing can open doors to unique projects and higher-earning potential.

These are just a few of the frequently asked questions. As you embark on your cabinetmaking journey, don't hesitate to seek guidance from experienced professionals or industry associations for more information.

With this comprehensive cabinetmaker career guide, you now have valuable insights into the profession, salary expectations, the necessary skills, and the steps required to join the trade. Whether you're considering a career change or exploring new opportunities, cabinetmaking offers a rewarding path that combines craftsmanship, creativity, and job stability.

At A Glance in US
Wage loader
398,000 (35%)
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398,000 (35%)
398,000 (35%)
Cabinet Assembler, Cabinet Builder, Cabinet Installer, Cabinetmaker, Double End Tenon Operator, Frame Builder, Framer, Woodworker
A Typical Day Icon

Your Typical Day:

  • Verify dimensions or check the quality or fit of pieces to ensure adherence to specifications.
  • Produce or assemble components of articles, such as store fixtures, office equipment, cabinets, or high-grade furniture.
  • Measure and mark dimensions of parts on paper or lumber stock prior to cutting, following blueprints, to ensure a tight fit and quality product.
  • Set up or operate machines, including power saws, jointers, mortisers, tenoners, molders, or shapers, to cut, mold, or shape woodstock or wood substitutes.
  • Establish the specifications of articles to be constructed or repaired, or plan the methods or operations for shaping or assembling parts, based on blueprints, drawings, diagrams, or oral or written instructions.
  • Attach parts or subassemblies together to form completed units, using glue, dowels, nails, screws, or clamps.
  • Reinforce joints with nails or other fasteners to prepare articles for finishing.
  • Install hardware, such as hinges, handles, catches, or drawer pulls, using hand tools.
  • Trim, sand, or scrape surfaces or joints to prepare articles for finishing.
  • Match materials for color, grain, or texture, giving attention to knots or other features of the wood.
wage icon

Wages in the US:

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Per Hour Base Income
Total Compensation
Your Responsibilities Icon

Your Responsibilities

  • Measure dimensions of completed products or workpieces to verify conformance to specifications.
  • Assemble wood products.
  • Measure materials to mark reference points, cutting lines, or other indicators.
  • Operate woodworking equipment.
  • Read work orders or other instructions to determine product specifications or materials requirements.
  • Review blueprints or other instructions to determine operational methods or sequences.
  • Estimate costs of products, services, or materials.
  • Estimate material requirements for production.
  • Trim excess material from workpieces.
  • Attach decorative or functional accessories to products.
Your Knowledge Icon

Knowledge You Will Learn

  • Mathematics

Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications. 80/100

  • Building and Construction

Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads. 71/100

  • Production and Processing

Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods. 67/100

  • Design

Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models. 61/100

  • Mechanical

Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance. 61/100

  • Engineering and Technology

Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services. 51/100

  • Education and Training

Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects. 36/100

  • English Language

Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar. 31/100

  • Administration and Management

Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources. 30/100

  • Public Safety and Security

Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions. 28/100

Tools of the Trade Icon

Tools of the Trade

  • Power saws
  • Planes
  • Wood chisels
  • Hand clamps
  • Power routers
  • Saws
  • Hold down clamps
  • Compasses
  • Squares
  • Biscuit jointers
  • Power planes
  • Screwdrivers
  • Calipers
  • Drilling machines
  • Utility knives
  • Milling machines
  • Cold press
  • Tracer or duplicating or contouring lathe
  • Boring machines
  • Power nail guns
  • Power sanders
  • Positioning jig
  • Sanding machines
  • C clamps
  • Mill saw file
  • Bandsaw wheel
  • Staple guns
  • Paint application system
  • Micrometers
  • Putty knives
  • Tape measures
  • Drill press or radial drill
  • Automatic lathe or chucking machine
  • Razor knives
  • Levels
  • Viscosimeters
  • Sawing machines
  • Power trimmers
  • Scribers
  • Banders
  • Grinding wheels
  • Sanding blocks
  • Bench dog
  • Rulers
  • Power grinders
  • Goggles
  • Paint brushes
  • Blade sharpener
  • Metal markers or holders
  • Punches or nail sets or drifts
  • Ear plugs
  • Hand or push drill
  • Scroll saw
  • Grinding machines
  • Shears
  • Pneumatic nail drivers
  • Paint rollers
  • Adjustable wrenches
  • Cutting machines
  • T squares
  • Paint sprayers
  • Claw hammer
  • Cheesegrater file
  • Miter saw
  • Augers
  • Bevels
  • Bastard cut file
  • Belt sander
  • Power screwguns
  • Mallets
  • Bench vises
  • Awls
  • Safety glasses
  • Power drills
  • Moisture meters
  • Plumb bobs
  • Locking pliers
  • Personal computers
  • Templates
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