By being a carpenter, you have chosen one of the oldest and most beautiful crafts. There aren’t many things as satisfying as building something with your own hands. You can decide to make a career out of it, or maybe a fulfilling hobby. You could choose to do some construction work, or you could find your passion for furniture making. Whichever it is, there are certain things you should know how to do, and have in mind, if you plan to be a successful carpenter. Here are some of them:
You need to be detail-oriented
Carpentry is not a job for those who do not care much for details. When making a piece of furniture, or building a roof on the house, everything needs to be level, and every inch counts. Of course, tools like spirit levels can help you here, but in the end, you will need to have a trained eye and catch any mistake on the go. If you don’t, problems might occur in the later stages of the job. Also, you’ll often find yourself in a situation where you’ll be adding some detailed woodworking finishing touches to the structure you’ve built. That’s where attention to detail comes in extremely handy.
Never neglect personal safety
Although carpentry is one of the most beautiful crafts, it is also one of the most dangerous, since you’ll be working with various power tools on a daily basis. Almost any of these tools can pose a severe threat to you if you’re not entirely concentrated on the task before you. So, there are specific guidelines you should always check before starting. You need to wear protective equipment, like earplugs, gloves and safety goggles, at all time. Making sure you wear them should be the first thing you do when you start a job. You should absolutely not use any alcohol or drugs before handling any tools, as they can impair your judgment, and make your reaction time much slower. Also, always make sure your tool blades and bits are sharp, as dull tools can not only make the job more challenging to finish but can also result in a kick-back or a bind.
Being organized is imperative
Sure, you can probably get by and get the job done even if your shop is messy and the tools are scattered all around the place. However, if you start to pay attention to organizing your gear correctly, you’ll notice just how much less time it takes you to finish a task. Every jig, tool, or machine should be within reach, just when you need them. Sloppiness and clutter can lead to some serious frustration in critical times. Sell or give away any tools you don’t and won’t use. Others that you’ll use regularly should be organized in maintenance trolleys or on tool boards. Screws and nails should be placed in properly marked containers. Machines should be organized in such order that it is easy to operate with each one of them, without having to rearrange the workshop every time.
You should develop math skills
Even if you didn’t like math in school, as a carpenter, you will need it on a daily basis. And you won’t be able to wing it. Every job you perform will require precise measurements because even the slightest miscalculation can give you a headache later on. A solid carpenter needs to know how to measure all the materials that need to be cut accurately. Also, you will need math skills to read blueprints or to draw projects and make measurements. Then, according to these plans, you will be able to make calculations and see how much material you’ll need for that project.
Always know how the wood behaves
Every skilled carpenter needs to understand wood and its behavior in certain conditions properly. Every species of wood has different traits. Some are better suited for construction work, while others are best for making furniture. When jointing and planing the board to desired thickness, you’ll need to know the grain orientation, to avoid any tearout. Also, you will have to understand how the wood contracts and expands as humidity fluctuates over the year. Failing to know this can lead to severe problems in construction.
Like mentioned above, woodworking and carpentry are some of the oldest skills humans have developed over history. Yet, today many people don’t know even how to use the essential woodworking tools. It is much easier to go to a branded store and buy a new, industrial piece of furniture, or to pay someone to do any construction work. However, every man should be confident enough to do at least some basic carpentry work around the house, and not rely on others. And with a couple of foundational skills, it is much easier to be a better craftsman.