Updated: Mar 22
Many people don’t even realize that there are different types of carpenters. It’s not really something you think about that much until you’re in the market for one. However, when you do stop to think about it, it makes sense that carpentry, like many professions, has different facets to it. Just like some doctors practice general medicine, some carpenters practice general carpentry. And just like some doctors specialize in a particular part of the body, like the heart or the kidneys, some carpenters specialize in a particular type of woodworking, such as cabinet building or woodcarving.
So what type of carpenter do you need? Well, at a broad level, there are two categories of carpentry: rough carpentry and finish carpentry. And the kind of carpenter you need depends on the type of woodwork you need.
If you’re building a home or doing a remodel that involves erecting interior walls, exterior walls, beams, or roofs (basically, anything structural), then you’ll need a rough carpenter. A framer is a common example of rough carpenter.
If you’re remodeling a home or you’re in the later stages of building a new home, you’ll need the work of a finish carpenter. A finish carpenter will add the “finishing” touches to your home that require more care and precision, such as wooden cabinets, window and door trim, molding, baseboards, fireplace mantles, stair railings, deck handrails, etc. Finish carpenters also sometimes specialize in crafting custom furniture or musical instruments.
And because it’s hard to imagine a situation where you would need a rough carpenter and not need a finish carpenter later, these jobs are frequently done by the same person. A carpenter might start off doing rough carpentry, and then study (often alongside a more experienced carpenter), the fine art of finish carpentry. When you can find one carpenter, or a team of carpenters, who can serve all your home carpentry needs, then your home renovation project will run a lot smoother.
And finally, if you’re a filmmaker, you may need to employ a scenic carpenter to build the set for your next big hit. That is, unless you’re filming on a boat, in which case, you might just need a ship carpenter.