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The construction of a home, a commercial building or a highway construction project typically requires the work of many skilled tradesmen and artisans at various stages of the job. Form carpenters are also known as a rough carpenters, and they work in the early stages of a construction project to frame houses, build scaffolding and make concrete forms. The forms are filled with concrete to mold concrete for bridges, highways or home foundations.
A form carpenter uses building blueprints and diagrams to determine the proper dimensions, shape and design of a form structure. The form carpenter uses precise measurements to cut and assemble boards, timbers or plywood to the necessary size as he builds a wooden form in the shape of a house's foundation or a section of bridge. The forms are typically secured with nails, bolts, screws or anchor rods. Once the form is secure, concrete is poured between the walls of the form. The concrete is molded and shaped by the design of the form as it cures and hardens.
A form carpenter must have good basic carpentry skills to perform his job effectively. A carpenter must be able to solve mathematical problems to properly measure for the amount of materials needed to construct a form. A form carpenter should also be organized to plan the sequence of work from start to finish, and he must be able to use carpentry tools such as hand saws, electric saws and drills. A form carpenter should have a good eye for detail and be able to check that the work is level, plumb and square. He must also be able to read and understand blueprints, diagrams, and local and national building codes.
Most form carpenters work on a job site outdoors in a variety of weather conditions including extreme heat, cold and precipitation. The work may be labor-intensive as rough carpentry typically involves lifting and positioning of large sections of wood, manual cutting of wood sections and hammering of nails. Some job sites also require a form carpenter to climb in and out of foundation pits or along scaffolding situated above the ground.
Most employers do not require a carpenter to have a college degree, but a high school diploma and some carpentry experience is often preferred. Form carpenters typically learn their trade on the job or through apprenticeships. Many high schools and trade schools also offer carpentry training that can provide the qualifications necessary for employment as a form carpentry position.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, earnings for carpenters in May 2008 were between $14.42 and $25.37 per hour. The lowest 10 percent of salaried carpenters earned less than $11.66 per hour and the highest 10 percent of carpenters earned more than $33.34 per hour. As of May 2008, job growth for carpenters was expected to grow as much as 13 percent through 2018.