How can I get into the field of carpentry with no experience? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 46 Old 09-13-2020, 09:23 PM Thread Starter
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How can I get into the field of carpentry with no experience?

Hello everyone; I am new to the forum. I've wanted to become a carpenter since early high school, but I have no experience in the field. How can I get into the field without any experience. Most of the carpenter helper jobs that I have seen require at least one year's experience, and I don't know how I could compete with others for jobs that don't require any experience at all. The carpenter's union in my state is closed indefinitely as of now. Could someone please provide some advice on how I could get into the field?

Thank you.
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post #2 of 46 Old 09-13-2020, 09:27 PM
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welcome to the forum, Enwar.
what part of the world do you live in ?
how old are you now ?
what kind of woodworking / carpentry do you want to do ?

.

there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks.
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post #3 of 46 Old 09-13-2020, 09:42 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Smith_inFL View Post
welcome to the forum, Enwar.
what part of the world do you live in ?
how old are you now ?
what kind of woodworking / carpentry do you want to do ?

.
Thank you for the welcome.

I am in the United States, on the East Coast. I just graduated high school, and the type of carpentry doesn't particularly matter to me.
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post #4 of 46 Old 09-13-2020, 10:05 PM
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I don't mean this to be sarcastic or condescending in any way:
the US Navy has a job skill called "Builder" with the SeaBees.
I served two tours with the SeaBees and they are one highly specialized unit
that can do anything with anything at any time.
a "Builder" is trained in all aspects of carpentry and woodworking.
and they work in unison with the metal workers, welders, equipment operators,
engineers, and a bunch of other tradesmen that I can't even think of right now.
we are in some very serious times right now with the Covid and finding a job
that you really want may be extremely hard.
if you think that the military may be an option, go talk with your local Navy Recruiter
and insist on seeing information on the "Builder" rate.
after all, it is free room and board, a steady paycheck every two weeks, 30 days paid
vacation every year and you get to see all parts of the world you never would see otherwise.
IF you do go see a recruiter, and he tries to talk you into another job, like being a cook,
give him my number and ask him to call me. (when-if you cross that bridge later).
wishing you all the best - and good luck.
stay safe.

HOORA !! Construimus, Batuimus.

.
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there is no educational alternative to having a front row seat in the School of Hard Knocks.
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post #5 of 46 Old 09-13-2020, 10:51 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Smith_inFL View Post
I don't mean this to be sarcastic or condescending in any way:
the US Navy has a job skill called "Builder" with the SeaBees.
I served two tours with the SeaBees and they are one highly specialized unit
that can do anything with anything at any time.
a "Builder" is trained in all aspects of carpentry and woodworking.
and they work in unison with the metal workers, welders, equipment operators,
engineers, and a bunch of other tradesmen that I can't even think of right now.
we are in some very serious times right now with the Covid and finding a job
that you really want may be extremely hard.
if you think that the military may be an option, go talk with your local Navy Recruiter
and insist on seeing information on the "Builder" rate.
after all, it is free room and board, a steady paycheck every two weeks, 30 days paid
vacation every year and you get to see all parts of the world you never would see otherwise.
IF you do go see a recruiter, and he tries to talk you into another job, like being a cook,
give him my number and ask him to call me. (when-if you cross that bridge later).
wishing you all the best - and good luck.
stay safe.

HOORA !! Construimus, Batuimus.

.
This honestly sounds awesome. I would love to do this, but my parents unfortunately would never let me. I'm enrolled in a college but have been granted a one year deferral. I plan to drop out if being a carpenter helper works out well, because carpentry is what I want to do; but my parents want me to go to college and expect me to go. I'm sure that I can convince them to let me drop out once the time comes, but joining the military would be impossible right now.

I appreciate your help.
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post #6 of 46 Old 09-13-2020, 11:03 PM
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if this is something that appeals to you, you can attend college while in the military.
I got my four year degree which cost probably less than $500.00 (30 years ago).
my wife is always poking fun at me that it took me 20 years to finish college LOL.
that was way before computers, email, cell phones and texting.
now, you can actually take college courses via the internet at your own pace
while working in the field that you like.
I forgot to tell you about the Builder (BU) rate in the Navy. after completing boot camp, you go to trade school to learn the basics of the carpenter trade. you don't just walk out of boot camp onto a jobsite in the field - you have to go to school first.
the "BU" school is 14 weeks long, and it is located in Gulfport, Mississippi.
and you actually get PAID while going to school !!!!
wow - the internet is AWESOME !! I just did a 10 second search and found this:
https://www.navycs.com/navy-jobs/builder.html
go see a recruiter - get the information offered - sit down with your parents.

.
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Last edited by John Smith_inFL; 09-13-2020 at 11:06 PM.
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post #7 of 46 Old 09-13-2020, 11:20 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Smith_inFL View Post
if this is something that appeals to you, you can attend college while in the military.
I got my four year degree which cost probably less than $500.00 (30 years ago).
my wife is always poking fun at me that it took me 20 years to finish college LOL.
that was way before computers, email, cell phones and texting.
now, you can actually take college courses via the internet at your own pace
while working in the field that you like.
I forgot to tell you about the Builder (BU) rate in the Navy. after completing boot camp, you go to trade school to learn the basics of the carpenter trade. you don't just walk out of boot camp onto a jobsite in the field - you have to go to school first.
the "BU" school is 14 weeks long, and it is located in Gulfport, Mississippi.
and you actually get PAID while going to school !!!!
wow - the internet is AWESOME !! I just did a 10 second search and found this:
https://www.navycs.com/navy-jobs/builder.html
go see a recruiter - get the information offered - sit down with your parents.

.
It's unfortunate, but my parents would not let me join the military in any circumstance, ever. They simply would never agree to it.
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post #8 of 46 Old 09-14-2020, 02:03 AM
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As a career woodworker, I would advise going ahead and getting as much education as you can. Trade schools are the way to go as far as I am concerned. No one wants to learn the trades now and going to trade school is a big plus. You can take a course in construction and easily find a job in that field later.

Construction has always been feast or famine for most carpenters, unless you specialize. There are so many different woodworking areas out there. I will say this though, if you don't own the company, you will never get rich woodworking. You can make a living but making a lot of money isn't going to happen working for the other guy.

IMHO, the areas I did best and made the most money was in Trim work, Stair building and restoration of antique homes. These are the better areas to make pretty good money. I did contract work but you best know what you are doing or you can lose your shirt quickly contracting. Always have a back up plan, you can never know if times will get really hard, and with no back up plan, you are in trouble.

http://www.diychatroom.com/

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Anything is possible IF you don't know what you are talking about.
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post #9 of 46 Old 09-14-2020, 06:01 AM
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First of all watch a few utubes. Then make something simple to start. Such a pity you did not do woodwork at school where I had a couple years tuition and made a small stool with tenons and rebates to accept a top. Lots of ideas on the net. Perhaps your parents will allow you to take up as a hobby. So a folding workbench such as a Workmate, Power drill/driver, a few hand planes and a set of chisels. All non electric tools on Ebay etc.
good luck. My two years tuition has saved me thousands. Perhaps an evening class to start.
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post #10 of 46 Old 09-14-2020, 06:44 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enwar View Post
It's unfortunate, but my parents would not let me join the military in any circumstance, ever. They simply would never agree to it.

Unless your parents are wealthy I would think that the financial benefits of learning a trade through the military would appeal to them. Then there are the VA college finance benefits.


Far too many youngsters go to college and study courses that have no financial future. they come out of college owing a large debt and no job that pays enough to pay for that debt.


You need to check my next statement yourself too determine if I am correct or wrong. I believe that after age 18 a person can join the military without parental approval.



If you do not like the Navy there is always the Air Force Red Horse or Civil Engineering. I am sure the Army has a similar.


George
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post #11 of 46 Old 09-14-2020, 07:11 AM
where's my table saw?
 
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You will need to "sell" yourself ........

There is a difference between rough construction, finish carpentry and fine woodworking even though each type use some of the same equipment or machines.

If you want to do construction/carpentry, find a small construction company that is not a family owned business. Family owned and run businesses are rather tight with who they will hire as family comes first. Do your own research on this company and see how many 5 star reviews they get. Do not settle for any company that does not have a great reputation. When you show up in person, bring up the fact that you want to work "here" because of their excellent reputation for quality work and good relations. Convince this company that you have the same quality standards and are willing to start at the bottom to prove it.

If they are willing to give you a "trial run", show up early, work hard, ask questions, look neat and clean, wear safety appropriate clothing and safety shoes. Be well organized, work hard and stay late. Don't curse, don't smoke and say "Yes Sir and No Sir when spoken to. Put your smart phone away well out of reach. These are the qualities of a good employee. This will go a long way in getting you hired. The skills on construction will come from doing the actual work as you learn on the job. You will probably be a "gopher" bringing materials, stacking them, and helping the other carpenters do their job better and faster. Time is money as they say, so the faster the crew can do their work, the more money everyone will make. You want to make yourself a "valuable asset" for the company so they will want to keep you on as a permanent employee.

Start collecting hand tools if you can afford any. Look for a good hammer in the 16 oz to 20 oz weight class. Practice driving nails at all different angles in 2 x 4 scrap wood. The secret to driving nails is the pieces of wood need to be backed up solidly so it doesn't shift around from the hammer blows. AND the face of the hammer can be angled/oriented to drive the nail in any direction you need. Of course many construction crews now use air powered nailers, but hammer skills are basic to the trade.

Using a hand held circular saw is also a basic skill, but they are always dangerous, even in highly skilled hands. This carpenter is the best one I've seen on You Tube. You will learn more from him than you will ever need to know....LOL
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzr...TmuFUS8IfXtXmg

Here's a great one on advanced use of the skilsaw. Notice how he is dressed, wearing a tool belt with pouches for all the stuff he needs on the job:


For someone starting out, you'll find this interesting from an experts point of view:

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 09-14-2020 at 09:58 AM.
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post #12 of 46 Old 09-14-2020, 07:27 AM
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I don't know how things are now because of the virus but people today generally don't want to do physical work anymore. There is a shortage of craftsman which is getting shorter all the time. Looking at it from the contractors point of view it's overwhelming to try to accumulate a staff that will actually show up for work every day. They are reluctant to invest money in training someone to have them leave in a month or two is why they want experienced help. Still there may be as many companies out there that would take a chance on anyone they can just to get someone to show up so I would keep looking. You find such a company and are dependable you would have certain job security.
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post #13 of 46 Old 09-14-2020, 09:44 AM
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I see two ways to go about it: go to a trade school, or on the job training. I think the vast majority of carpenter jobs are not union, but that's around me.

I worked in construction summers in high school. I started out toting lumber, fetching, cleaning up, etc. I was anxious to learn, and pretty soon I was a cut man, and soon after that I was hammering nails (this was the early 70's air nailers weren't that popular yet).

So one option is to find a job as a carpenter's helper. But you're going to have to overcome the common thinking that your generation is allergic to manual labor. Show them you're willing to work and most guys will teach you what they know.
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post #14 of 46 Old 09-14-2020, 10:09 AM
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Cabinet shops often hire without experience. You just have to sell yourself.. won't pay much but that how we all start....
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post #15 of 46 Old 09-14-2020, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Smith_inFL View Post
if this is something that appeals to you, you can attend college while in the military.
I got my four year degree which cost probably less than $500.00 (30 years ago).
.
I did the same thing myself, joining the Air Force back in 1990 right out of high school. I signed up for 6 years and ended up doing 8. Every place I was stationed I had easy access to college, even when I spent a year working on a Greek air base. My final station was in Okinawa where I spent my last 4 years of service. The University of Maryland had an extension right on the base which made finishing up my degree very simple.

Back then my tuition was covered at 90%. Now I hear that tuition is covered at 100% and they even cover the cost of books for any college courses you take while on active duty. I think if I had to do it all over again I'd do the same thing. Sign up for 4 to 6 years and focus on finishing up college as quickly as possible. Leaving the military with some great working experience and a fully paid for college degree would be a great foundation to build any life off of.
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post #16 of 46 Old 09-14-2020, 11:22 AM
where's my table saw?
 
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The difference between construction and fine woodworking

Let's start out with the environment. Fine woodworking is always done inside a shop, most likely air conditioned and heated. Construction is almost always outside in the elements, heat, rain, snow or wind and you had better like that or be willing to suffer with it at least.


Construction work is often done on a roof high off the ground, so you should not be leery of heights. Safety harnesses will hold you from falling, but roof sheathing can be very slippery, having slid off a roof I know from experience. Construction requires lifting and moving long and heavy joists and sheets of plywood. How strong are you? Fine woodworking may very occasionally require moving a heavy plank for a large table top, unless making them from thick slabs is the order of the day. There will be much more accuracy required in fine woodworking where the seams and glue line can not show.


There will be considerably more hand planing and chiseling in fine woodworking than in construction UNLESS you are a timber framer.
Timber framing combines the best of both worlds, if you are not aware of it, look it up! It's a skill set all unto itself!

In fine woodworking the 4 basic machines you'll find in the shop
are a table saw, a jointer, a thickness planer and a bandsaw. Router tables and shapers are also very common as are drum sanders or wide belt sanders found in cabinet shops.

In construction work you'll find a miter saw and possibly a job site table saw and skil saws, drill drivers and impact drivers, mostly hand held tools and now days battery powered. Occasionally a skil saw is used in fine woodworking but mostly to break down larger sheets of materials so they can be better managed on the table saw.

Fine woodworking requires the worker to turn rough sawn lumber into precisely dimensioned stock using the basic machines mentioned above. Construction work uses the pre-dimensioned lumber as is, but then is cut to the length at dimensions for rafters, joists and studs. Very little softwood is used in fine woodworking, mostly hardwoods. Very little hardwood is used in construction, with stair cases being the exception, but that's done by a finish carpenter, not a framer.

So, those are the major differences if that will help you focus on what you are more interested in or suited for .... I donno?

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)

Last edited by woodnthings; 09-14-2020 at 02:15 PM.
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post #17 of 46 Old 09-14-2020, 11:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enwar View Post
This honestly sounds awesome. I would love to do this, but my parents unfortunately would never let me. I'm enrolled in a college but have been granted a one year deferral. I plan to drop out if being a carpenter helper works out well, because carpentry is what I want to do; but my parents want me to go to college and expect me to go. I'm sure that I can convince them to let me drop out once the time comes, but joining the military would be impossible right now.

I appreciate your help.
Im assuming youre 18 (or older) since you are out of High School. You dont need your parents permission or blessing to join the military (although it would be nice). Go talk to a recruiter, no commitment is necessary. If you like what he says, talk to your parents and explain that this is what you want to do.
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post #18 of 46 Old 09-14-2020, 11:43 AM
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Carpenter to military?
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post #19 of 46 Old 09-14-2020, 12:00 PM
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I joined the Navy with a ticket into the SteelWorker trade with the SeaBees.
during the qualification testing, we had to climb a steel girder simulating a 100 foot tall bridge leg.
cut some parts with a oxy/acet torch and weld on a new part.
needless to say, that weeded out probably 90% of the WannaBees, including me.
I am terrified of heights with nothing to hold onto.
so, without a back-up plan, I caught a Destroyer down in Key West, FL as a Storekeeper.
years later, I had the "privilege" of serving with two CB units in Italy as a support Storekeeper.
in my off time, I worked with the different Construction Trades, builders, equipment operators, welders, and even learned how to operate a 12 ton cherry picker crane.
then, got certified to drive the LCM6 cargo Mike Boat.
there is just so much to see and do outside of your little town.
Bud G. has offered some really good information.

.
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Last edited by John Smith_inFL; 09-14-2020 at 01:03 PM.
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post #20 of 46 Old 09-14-2020, 12:24 PM
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You would drop out of college to do carpentry?

I hate to say it, but it's looks fun but it's not. It's work....
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