Joiner Or Carpenter?

Many people confuse the terms Joiner and Carpenter. This post hopes to make clear the difference between the two trades.

Wikipedia gives the following definition:

A joiner differs from a carpenter in that he or she cuts and fits joints in wood that do not use nails, usually in a workshop environment since the formation of the various joints generally requires non-portable machinery. A carpenter would normally work on site. Cabinet makers who specialise in manufacturing furniture are regarded as producing fine joinery.

The “joinery” and “joiner” usage is obsolete in the USA, although the main carpenters’ trade union still calls itself the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

A “joiner” would generally produce items such as interior and exterior doors, windows, stairs, tables, bookshelves, etc.

In the UK a wood occupations apprentice could choose to study Bench Joinery or Site Carpentry and Joinery. Bench Joinery being the preparation, setting out and manufacture of joinery components. Site Carpentry and Joinery focuses on the setting out and fabrication of timber elements of construction and installation of the joinery components. On site the carpentry can be roughly designated to the timber work installed before the plaster does his work and joinery can be seen as that timber work installed or fitted after.

I hope that has clarified the difference between joiners and carpenters. Please feel free to add your comments below.


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