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List of Woodworking Careers

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Wood and the many products made with it play an important role in commerce. Skilled woodworkers are relied on to determine which wood works for specific uses, and to set up and operate the machinery used to make products. Woodworkers also serve as craftspeople, working with hand tools to create works of art.

Furniture Finishers

Finishers work with antiques, restoring them to their original state. The work is detailed and requires knowledge of history, and how to preserve and refinish fine pieces of woodwork. Finishers also work in commercial manufacturing. They provide the final touches by brush or spray to finish furniture before it’s shipped. No formal education is required to learn how to be a finisher. You can learn from an experienced professional. You need good vision, manual dexterity and the ability to match colors to perform the work.

Cabinet Makers

Cabinet makers design and build custom cabinets to specifications provided by builders and architects. They also create free-standing cabinets by cutting, shaping and assembling finished wood. They study and read blueprints; match grains and color; use power tools; and install hinges and pulls. Cabinet makers often serve as apprentices before earning a journeyman’s card from the state in which they work.

Machine Operators

Machine operators work in manufacturing facilities as setters, operators and tenders. They run lathes, presses, drills, sanders and planers in large and small factories and shops. Wood sawing machine setters are highly trained to operate specific machinery. Most machine operators learn on the job and take about three years to master the operations. Certifications to demonstrate competency are available through the Architectural Woodwork Institute and the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America.

Craft Woodworking Artists

Craft woodworking artists create individual pieces of functional art with wood. By turning pieces of wood, they design and complete bowls and plates. Crafts people take small pieces of wood and create a useful item, relying on the grain and shape of the wood to define its outcome. Craft artists also may make custom pieces of furniture. They may take courses in design and art through a university or trade school, but most learn through practice.


Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

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