Author: Larry Westfall

Carpenters are involved in many different kinds of construction
activity. They cut, fit, and assemble wood and other materials
for the construction of buildings, highways, bridges, docks,
industrial plants, boats, and many other structures. Carpenters’
duties vary by type of employer. Builders increasingly are using
specialty trade contractors who, in turn, hire carpenters who
specialize in just one or two activities. Such activities
include setting forms for concrete construction; erecting
scaffolding; or doing finishing work, such as installing
interior and exterior trim. However, a carpenter directly
employed by a general building contractor often must perform a
variety of the tasks associated with new construction, such as
framing walls and partitions, putting in doors and windows,
building stairs, laying hardwood floors, and hanging kitchen
cabinets. Carpenters also build brattices (ventilation walls or
partitions) in underground passageways to control the proper
circulation of air through these passageways and to worksites.

Because local building codes often dictate where certain
materials can be used, carpenters must know these regulations.
Each carpentry task is somewhat different, but most involve the
same basic steps. Working from blueprints or instructions from
supervisors, carpenters first do the layout—measuring, marking,
and arranging materials. They cut and shape wood, plastic,
fiberglass, or drywall, using hand and power tools, such as
chisels, planes, saws, drills, and sanders. They then join the
materials with nails, screws, staples, or adhesives. In the
final step, carpenters check the accuracy of their work with
levels, rules, plumb bobs, and framing squares, and make any
necessary adjustments. When working with prefabricated
components, such as stairs or wall panels, the carpenter’s task
is somewhat simpler than above, because it does not require as
much layout work or the cutting and assembly of as many pieces.

Prefabricated components are designed for easy and fast
installation and generally can be installed in a single

Carpenters who remodel homes and other structures must be able
to do all aspects of a job—not just one task. Thus, individuals
with good basic overall training are at a distinct advantage,
because they can switch from residential building to commercial
construction or remodeling work, depending on which offers the
best work opportunities.

Carpenters employed outside the construction industry perform a
variety of installation and maintenance work. They may replace
panes of glass, ceiling tiles, and doors, as well as repair
desks, cabinets, and other furniture. Depending on the employer,
carpenters install partitions, doors, and windows; change locks;
and repair broken furniture. In manufacturing firms, carpenters
may assist in moving or installing machinery.

About the author:
Larry Westfall is the owner of http:://
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