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A furniture carpenter builds or repairs wooden desks, chairs, shelving units and other types of furniture. Many of these individuals are self-employed while others work for manufacturing firms, retailers or service companies. Some carpenters work with a wide range of materials or products while others specialize in crafting, repairing, or restoring specific types of goods.
In some nations, community colleges offer short-term vocational courses during which individuals are taught how to work with wood in a variety of different ways. Typically, these sessions cover carpentry in general rather than just furniture related work although some institutions offer classes on specific aspects of the trade that students can enlist in after completing the general courses. Many people employed in this field receive on-the-job training while working as apprentices, in which case someone wishing to become a furniture carpenter may seek employment with a firm that produces or repairs wooden products. In some areas, industry associations offer training classes that culminate in a practical examination; people who undergo this training may become certified master carpenters. As with college courses, many of these programs are designed to prepare people to work in the trade in general rather than focusing on one type of work.
A trained furniture carpenter may specialize in producing one type of product such as cribs, rocking chairs or dressers. In many instances, these professionals prefer to work with one type of wood such as pine, oak or cedar and a particular carpenter may produce a whole line of stylistically similar products that are produced with the same materials. A furniture carpenter may sell these goods to retailers or wholesale companies while other people working in this field run their own stores in which case they may even produce customized products for individual clients.
Aside from producing new products, some people working in this field focus on repairing items that were produced by other individuals. In some instances, carpenters replace sections of rotten, or damaged wood from beds, wardrobes or dressers while other types of repairs may involve smoothing out scratches or reapplying staining materials or varnish. Many pieces of antique furniture are decorated with paints that are no longer mass produced or feature ornate decorations that are difficult to replicate. Some carpenters study historic production techniques and specialize in restoring these unusual pieces of furniture.
Generally, a furniture carpenter who works with various types of products receives a flat salary or generates a steady income through working with large numbers of business and consumer clients. People who perform more specialized work may charge higher fees because the restoration and production process is more labor intensive. Additionally, since antique pieces of furniture are often rare, people who work with narrow product lines often take on other projects in order to generate income during times when customers are few and far between.