Becoming a carpenter at 26/27.

Wood working questions and answers in here please

Moderator: Moderators

Post Reply
BennyDCFC
Newly registered Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:22 pm
Has thanked: 0
Been thanked: 0

Becoming a carpenter at 26/27.

Post by BennyDCFC » Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:23 pm

Hi all,

I'm 26 (27 in under 3 weeks) and I am considering becoming a carpenter.

What would the process be in becoming one at my age and is it still possible?

I have a brother in law who is a carpenter (at least I think he is, he might be better described as being a joiner) who worked for the Royal Opera House putting together their sets. He's now self-employed. Would working with him constitute the practical experiencen necessary in order to call myself a proper carpenter? Also, would qualifications be necessary?

If not, any help would be much appreciated. Feel free to tell me I'm being unrealistic at this point.

Ben
User avatar
Job and Knock
Old School Chippie
Posts: 6356
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 3:27 pm
Location: Lancashire
Has thanked: 629 times
Been thanked: 1477 times

Re: Becoming a carpenter at 26/27.

Post by Job and Knock » Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:58 pm

:welcomeuhm:

Joiner and carpenter are used differently between the north and the south of England at least. Up here (in the north) I'm often referred to as a "site joiner" - in London that would be "site carpenter" (in reality I specialise in listed building work and interior fit-out, which is a tad more specialised). In reality I'm a carpenter and joiner because back in the day you had to be able to undertake both site and bench work, and understand the theory, to become a proper tradesman. Since the mid- to late-1980s (later ion some parts of the UK) the trade has been more and more split between joiners (who work on the bench making stuff and rarely visit site) and carpenters (who install on site but don't make up on the bench). So to answer you question "Would working with him constitute the practical experience necessary in order to call myself a proper carpenter?", NO - all that makes you is a carpenter's he;lper or assistant in my eyes and to the question, "...would qualifications be necessary?" the answer is YES. There is no such thing as a proper carpenter of joiner (or for that matter ANY tradesman) unless they are both qualified and have relevant experience - the training is only part of what makes you a finished man.

Unfortunately the process is to go to college on day-release to do at least a City & Guilds Level 2 (1 year) and then level 3 (1 year) on an appropriate course e.g C&G 6706. As you (probably) cannot demonstrate previous depth of knowledge or skills you may also need to do the Level 1 course before proceeding to Level 2. The 6706 qualification encompasses the trades of site carpenter, bench joiner or shopfitter joiner depending on the modules taken. You could try to wing it with an OSAT (On-Site Assessment and Training) assessment (leading to an NVQ2), but your lack of experience would soon show you up in the real world (and nobody likes getting sacked, do they?). To get any job on site these days (in England) requires a Level 2 (blue) CSCS card at the very least - which requires formal qualifications.

If you think you are a site carpenter, could you do the following:

- Install a staircase, including newel posts, spindles, handrails, etc?
- Swing a new exterior door in an existing opening, lock-out and install the ironmongery?
- Level-up a dipped floor, take out excess spring and then re-plank the floor with T&G timber planking?
- Install a basic kitchen with provisions for water, electrical and waste connections (laminate top)?
- Install wall plates then install a pre-manufactured timber truss roof?

If you don't know how to do all of these (and a lot more besides) then you don't deserve to call yourself any sort of carpenter, really. On the other hand I've worked with good Level 2 apprentices (only a couple of times) who could tackle all of the above competently

It's a hard road to follow, but if you enjoy working with wood and can take the inevitable financial hit then it may be worth the effort, but remember there's a lot more to doing the job than just rocking up to site and talking a good job!

BTW, from what you say your BIL is probably what they call a "set carpenter" in the theatre. Not quite a carpenter in my experience as it employs only a limited part of a carpenters knowledge, but potentially requires a lot more imagination
Last edited by Job and Knock on Thu Nov 29, 2018 6:04 pm, edited 4 times in total.
"The person who never made a mistake, never made anything" - Albert Einstein

"I too will something make, And joy in the making" - Robert Bridges, 1844~1930

"Success is 99% failure" - Soichiro Honda
User avatar
Dave54
Senior Member
Posts: 4030
Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:20 pm
Has thanked: 1011 times
Been thanked: 931 times

Re: Becoming a carpenter at 26/27.

Post by Dave54 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:59 pm

:welcomeuhm:
Actually gets asked a fair bit.
Not all carpentry related but a forum search for "career change" gives this
https://bit.ly/2AyYIV7
BennyDCFC
Newly registered Member
Posts: 2
Joined: Thu Nov 29, 2018 5:22 pm
Has thanked: 0
Been thanked: 0

Re: Becoming a carpenter at 26/27.

Post by BennyDCFC » Thu Nov 29, 2018 7:02 pm

Job and Knock wrote::welcomeuhm:

Joiner and carpenter are used differently between the north and the south of England at least. Up here (in the north) I'm often referred to as a "site joiner" - in London that would be "site carpenter" (in reality I specialise in listed building work and interior fit-out, which is a tad more specialised). In reality I'm a carpenter and joiner because back in the day you had to be able to undertake both site and bench work, and understand the theory, to become a proper tradesman. Since the mid- to late-1980s (later ion some parts of the UK) the trade has been more and more split between joiners (who work on the bench making stuff and rarely visit site) and carpenters (who install on site but don't make up on the bench). So to answer you question "Would working with him constitute the practical experience necessary in order to call myself a proper carpenter?", NO - all that makes you is a carpenter's he;lper or assistant in my eyes and to the question, "...would qualifications be necessary?" the answer is YES. There is no such thing as a proper carpenter of joiner (or for that matter ANY tradesman) unless they are both qualified and have relevant experience - the training is only part of what makes you a finished man.

Unfortunately the process is to go to college on day-release to do at least a City & Guilds Level 2 (1 year) and then level 3 (1 year) on an appropriate course e.g C&G 6706. As you (probably) cannot demonstrate previous depth of knowledge or skills you may also need to do the Level 1 course before proceeding to Level 2. The 6706 qualification encompasses the trades of site carpenter, bench joiner or shopfitter joiner depending on the modules taken. You could try to wing it with an OSAT (On-Site Assessment and Training) assessment (leading to an NVQ2), but your lack of experience would soon show you up in the real world (and nobody likes getting sacked, do they?). To get any job on site these days (in England) requires a Level 2 (blue) CSCS card at the very least - which requires formal qualifications.

If you think you are a site carpenter, could you do the following:

- Install a staircase, including newel posts, spindles, handrails, etc?
- Swing a new exterior door in an existing opening, lock-out and install the ironmongery?
- Level-up a dipped floor, take out excess spring and then re-plank the floor with T&G timber planking?
- Install a basic kitchen with provisions for water, electrical and waste connections (laminate top)?
- Install wall plates then install a pre-manufactured timber truss roof?

If you don't know how to do all of these (and a lot more besides) then you don't deserve to call yourself any sort of carpenter, really. On the other hand I've worked with good Level 2 apprentices (only a couple of times) who could tackle all of the above competently

It's a hard road to follow, but if you enjoy working with wood and can take the inevitable financial hit then it may be worth the effort, but remember there's a lot more to doing the job than just rocking up to site and talking a good job!

BTW, from what you say your BIL is probably what they call a "set carpenter" in the theatre. Not quite a carpenter in my experience as it employs only a limited part of a carpenters knowledge, but potentially requires a lot more imagination
Could I start working with him (whilst getting my qualifications done) and then take that forward to a carpenter who might be willing to train me further to cover more aspects of the job?

Even though he was/is a set carpenter, another carpenter could be willing to train me for a shorter period of time. Would you agree with this?
User avatar
Job and Knock
Old School Chippie
Posts: 6356
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 3:27 pm
Location: Lancashire
Has thanked: 629 times
Been thanked: 1477 times

Re: Becoming a carpenter at 26/27.

Post by Job and Knock » Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:10 pm

BennyDCFC wrote:Could I start working with him (whilst getting my qualifications done) and then take that forward to a carpenter who might be willing to train me further to cover more aspects of the job?
Being with someone whilst you do your qualifications is good, but does he actually do any general carpentry work, e.g. installing windows and door frames, building stud walls, boarding out (e.g. plaster boarding ceilings, walls, etc), installing door casings, skirtings, architraves, then swinging doors? If he doesn't, just how do you intend to get the practical part of your training? I'm pointing this out because it is really important to do this whilst you are doing your C&Gs or NVQs, NOT afterwards, and in truth you shouldn't just go out and do "foreigners" on paying customers houses to get experience (if only because there won't be a guiding hand to put you right when you make mistakes - and you will make mistakes and maybe even end up on Rogue Traders in BBC's Watchdog programme.....). Without solid practical experience, and at least some ability to handle the many "gotchas" which come up in any trade, you won't ever make a decent tradesman.
BennyDCFC wrote:Even though he was/is a set carpenter, another carpenter could be willing to train me for a shorter period of time. Would you agree with this?
Here's the rub. If I (or any chippie) take on an apprentice I need to spend quite a bit of time with him explaining what I am doing and why I am doing it, spend time keeping an eye on him (or her) to ensure that they don't screw-up, say, a £100 fire door, or your £400 plunge saw, or have an accident through carelessness/inexperience/stupidity* (* - delete as appropriate). On top of that I will have to earn a living despite losing maybe 8 to 10 hours of my working week teaching someone else. And for taking all this on board I have to pay him. You can find people willing to do this, but they aren't common and you would need to sell yourself well to get a position whilst at the same time keeping a weather eye out for the charlatans and cheats who just regard you as cheap, unskilled labour. It's a big ask IMHO. TBH you are probably better looking for a small to medium-sized joinery contractor who has a sufficiently large workforrce to be able to carry one or more apprentices and/or improvers. That means a firm with more than 20 employees in my experience
"The person who never made a mistake, never made anything" - Albert Einstein

"I too will something make, And joy in the making" - Robert Bridges, 1844~1930

"Success is 99% failure" - Soichiro Honda
User avatar
steviejoiner74
Senior Member
Posts: 8000
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 7:04 pm
Location: Fife
Has thanked: 747 times
Been thanked: 1616 times

Re: Becoming a carpenter at 26/27.

Post by steviejoiner74 » Thu Nov 29, 2018 9:29 pm

Up here in Scotland it’s a 4 year apprenticeship with a trade test at the end which you must pass.
Year 1 and 2 are on site work with weekly block release every month and some employers will send you a 3rd year block release to do your advanced craft, 4th year is all on site,
At the end of your time you’ll either have an nvq 3 or advanced craft,both gain you a gold cscs card.
Now that’s just the start of your career as it enables you to work on site and not be out of your depth whilst still learning and improving as the years go by which only comes with experience.
There is no shortcut way of becoming a chippie regardless of all these 6 week courses being advertised.
Carpentry,I can explain it to you but I cannot understand it for you.
Grendel
Senior Member
Posts: 1500
Joined: Sat Nov 21, 2015 7:08 pm
Has thanked: 105 times
Been thanked: 277 times

Re: Becoming a carpenter at 26/27.

Post by Grendel » Fri Nov 30, 2018 8:23 am

Always remember working on a job in South Wales when the conversation turned to apprenticeships and training. 3or 4 year apprenticeships seemed about the norm and we'd all served them except for one guy who had formally been a farmer. He said to us " well you lot must be f*ing thick , it only took me six weeks to learn" . He might have had a point as none of us were able to frame an answer , we just stood there open mouthed and speechless :lol:
On a related point , not trying to knock the value of training and apprenticeships but how often are people asked to produce their quailifications? I've only been self employed for a little under seven years and I've never been asked to show anything. Likewise my CSCS card had long expired when I was made redundant and renewed it while on the dole ( free that way) but again I've never been asked to produce it , not that it's current now of course.
User avatar
Job and Knock
Old School Chippie
Posts: 6356
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 3:27 pm
Location: Lancashire
Has thanked: 629 times
Been thanked: 1477 times

Re: Becoming a carpenter at 26/27.

Post by Job and Knock » Fri Nov 30, 2018 12:42 pm

Grendel wrote:On a related point , not trying to knock the value of training and apprenticeships but how often are people asked to produce their quailifications?
If you want to work on site (and let's face it there's a very large amount of work on construction sites) it's about 90% certain that you'll be required to show a current, valid CSCS card - and to get one of those you need to produce your formal qualifications, so......

.....but then I tend to be working on sites run by bigger firms, and I get asked to produce it almost every time I start a new job. Without a CSCS card you are just restricting your own employment prospects IMHO
"The person who never made a mistake, never made anything" - Albert Einstein

"I too will something make, And joy in the making" - Robert Bridges, 1844~1930

"Success is 99% failure" - Soichiro Honda
Grendel
Senior Member
Posts: 1500
Joined: Sat Nov 21, 2015 7:08 pm
Has thanked: 105 times
Been thanked: 277 times

Re: Becoming a carpenter at 26/27.

Post by Grendel » Fri Nov 30, 2018 1:40 pm

I'm not trying to argue against pieces of paper qualifications ( or plastic cards if one is perdantic) you understand it's more of a interest which to be fair is probably a gap in my knowledge.
For most of my working life I was employed by the same firm that put me thrrrough my apprenticeship and CSCS lark . Actually with the CSCS card we never actually saw the cards but then we very rarely worked on anybody else's sites. When they run out the firm was pretty slow to renew them.
Last firm I worked for subbed to corillion and we were asked if we had the cards . Non of us did but our site agent said we all had them and there was never any follow up or checks .
Self employed and I don't go on big jobs anymore but do go on small projects ( refurbs or a single building) run by a couple of property developers. Again I've never been asked to provide anything.
As I say my experience is limited and I'm not looking at going back to travelling miles and miles to work on huge jobs as I've more than enough work locally on small jobs but was generally interested as to how often qualifications are asked to be provided or are checked.
User avatar
steviejoiner74
Senior Member
Posts: 8000
Joined: Sun Aug 18, 2013 7:04 pm
Location: Fife
Has thanked: 747 times
Been thanked: 1616 times

Re: Becoming a carpenter at 26/27.

Post by steviejoiner74 » Fri Nov 30, 2018 4:18 pm

Any site I’ve been on in the last 5 years wont let you on without a cscs card,it also has to be gold if you are a tradesman as well or you get knocked back. It’s a money making racket for sure but as j&k says you’re narrowing your employability not having one and at 60 quid every 5 years it’s rrally not an issue imo
Carpentry,I can explain it to you but I cannot understand it for you.
Grendel
Senior Member
Posts: 1500
Joined: Sat Nov 21, 2015 7:08 pm
Has thanked: 105 times
Been thanked: 277 times

Re: Becoming a carpenter at 26/27.

Post by Grendel » Fri Nov 30, 2018 5:42 pm

Thanks for the input Steve . The cynic in me thinks it's a glorified tax on working although I recognise h&s is an important thing. I guess in my admittedly smallish experience I've been lucky , or unlucky depending on one's point of view, to have been on sites where things have been a tad more lax shall we say.
User avatar
Job and Knock
Old School Chippie
Posts: 6356
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 3:27 pm
Location: Lancashire
Has thanked: 629 times
Been thanked: 1477 times

Re: Becoming a carpenter at 26/27.

Post by Job and Knock » Fri Nov 30, 2018 6:53 pm

Grendel wrote:I guess in my admittedly smallish experience I've been lucky , or unlucky depending on one's point of view, to have been on sites where things have been a tad more lax shall we say.
I think you have been. I worked on a number of Carillion sites and they were always pretty hot on appropriate CSCS cards in my experience. The same was true of ISG, Wates, Keir, Grahams, Rennaker and a load of others, plus the NHS and councils. Even some shopping centres now require it if you need access onto their premises to do work. On older buildings UKATA Asbestos Awareness is becoming almost mandatory as well these days - and that one's only valid for 12 months, but at least it can be done on-line and costs about £30. It's all very well saying that it's all a con, etc but when it's my responsibility to check this sort of stuff these bits of plastic make my life easier - as well as helping keep the HSE and insurance company off my back. At least you know that if someone turns up with a CSCS trade card they hold the appropriate qualification and that they've done a safety assessment in the last 5 years
"The person who never made a mistake, never made anything" - Albert Einstein

"I too will something make, And joy in the making" - Robert Bridges, 1844~1930

"Success is 99% failure" - Soichiro Honda
Grendel
Senior Member
Posts: 1500
Joined: Sat Nov 21, 2015 7:08 pm
Has thanked: 105 times
Been thanked: 277 times

Re: Becoming a carpenter at 26/27.

Post by Grendel » Sat Dec 01, 2018 8:31 am

Yes I must admit the experience on the carillon site was odd. It was a pretty large contract and when we were asked I fully expected not to be working there but just taking the word of our site agent , who himself didn't have one , without any actual checks seemed strange. Oddly enough the sae firm did put uss through an asbestos course.
Another question ( and I apologise to benny if this seems to be going off track) which j&k may be able to answer seeing as he says it's his responsibility to check but do forgeries crop up at all? Listening to the radio the other day it was talking about stamps being forged which are less than a pound in value so something that costs £60 could very well attract interest. I presume cards can be cross referenced to prove they are legitimate ? Is that done regularly or even randomly?
User avatar
Job and Knock
Old School Chippie
Posts: 6356
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 3:27 pm
Location: Lancashire
Has thanked: 629 times
Been thanked: 1477 times

Re: Becoming a carpenter at 26/27.

Post by Job and Knock » Sat Dec 01, 2018 12:17 pm

Grendel wrote:.... do forgeries crop up at all? Listening to the radio the other day it was talking about stamps being forged which are less than a pound in value so something that costs £60 could very well attract interest. I presume cards can be cross referenced to prove they are legitimate ? Is that done regularly or even randomly?
Yes they do. If you are a foreman (as I sometimes am) you are generally expected to check that the cards you've been presented with are legit. It's a simple task - make a phone calll or go on the website of the relevant issuing authority. Not all main contractors require it, but it covers yoir own arris fr when the H&S auditor comes round. Never been presented with a fake myself, but for example last year I as on a larger fit-out where we had a number of Bulgarians turn up with forged IPAF cards (although oddly their CSCS cards were in order). So it does happen. They got dumped out the door sharpish and both IPAF and CITB were informed.
These users thanked the author Job and Knock for the post:
Grendel
Rating: 7.14%
"The person who never made a mistake, never made anything" - Albert Einstein

"I too will something make, And joy in the making" - Robert Bridges, 1844~1930

"Success is 99% failure" - Soichiro Honda
Grendel
Senior Member
Posts: 1500
Joined: Sat Nov 21, 2015 7:08 pm
Has thanked: 105 times
Been thanked: 277 times

Re: Becoming a carpenter at 26/27.

Post by Grendel » Sat Dec 01, 2018 6:05 pm

Job and Knock wrote:
Grendel wrote:.... do forgeries crop up at all?
Yes they do. If you are a foreman (as I sometimes am) you are generally expected to check that the cards you've been presented with are legit..
Depressing if not at all surprising. It's been a good few years ( well decades) since I last ran a small job or two so I have understandable lack of knowledge in certain upto date matters.
Post Reply

Return to “Carpentry/Joinery Forum”