They both work with wood and are tradespeople that work on building projects and renovations, both commercial and domestic. But what is the difference?

Joinery is a broad term that covers all sorts of woodworking. Joinery is a word that describes the joining of pieces of wood together. There are various techniques for doing this such as cutting precise notches so that two or  more pieces of wood securely fit together. This process may also include pressurising or heating the pieces to strengthen the finish. 

Joinery and carpentry are two terms that are used interchangeably but take a closer look, and there are clear differences between the two. 

Distinct yet overlapping – the difference between joinery and carpentry

They may overlap but joinery and carpentry are two separate trades.

Carpenters will often work on projects ‘in the field’, including first and second fix installations. As well as fitting structural elements of a project such as staircases, they may also produce high-end ‘artistic pieces’ such as bespoke handmade furniture, garden features or sculptures.

Generally speaking, carpenters work with the large elements of construction away from a workshop. Carpenters as a result, are often involved in a building project right from the start.

Both joiners and carpenters are experts in a wide range of different wood joints and techniques, as well as being professions that uphold the highest professional standards. It’s not uncommon to find carpenters and experienced joiners as site managers.

What does a joiner do?

A joiner may make or repair the products that carpenters install in a build. Professional joiners will be an integral tradesperson in renovation projects, as well as construction and development of new and old buildings, both commercial and residential.

They produce all kinds of different pieces of wood work, such as:

Depending on the skills and methods used, a lot of this work happens in the workshop. Even joiners using modern techniques will find that they will need to rely on equipment and skills of old.

The range of joinery skills takes time to learn with joinery apprentices taking years to up skill to the same level as their mentors, it goes without saying, that the more experience a joiner has, the better these skills are.

Do the differences between joinery and carpentry matter?

In some ways no, but for many carpenters and joiners, it is important that the differences remain – and are celebrated. Joiners and carpenters will often overlap in their skills on site, with some carpenters also working in the joiner’s workshop.

In essence, when you commission a bespoke piece of joinery, you want to know that the person or team producing it do so with utmost care and skill. And this is why a joiner is the right person to commission for your next project. 

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