What Does a Bench Carpenter Do?

Dan Cavallari

The specific job duties of a bench carpenter can vary, but in general, this person will be responsible for assembling prefabricated wooden parts or creating wooden parts from scratch to construct complete units ready for use by consumers. The bench carpenter will work with a variety of power tools as well as hand tools to shape wood and combine pieces, and he or she may work individually or as part of an assembly team. The education requirements for this position can vary, though most candidates have at least a high school diploma as well as some post-secondary training.

Bench carpenters may construct items from scratch.
Bench carpenters may construct items from scratch.

Most bench carpenter positions start with an apprenticeship, during which the candidate will learn about the tools, skills, and techniques used in the process of woodworking. An apprenticeship can last anywhere from one to five years, during which time the bench carpenter apprentice will work under the direct guidance and supervision of a more experienced carpenter. Some bench carpenter positions do not require an apprenticeship, and the job tasks completed by this person are fairly straightforward and simple. This is usually the case if the carpenter will work in an assembly line setting, though most positions will require extensive training, especially regarding safety techniques.

Bench carpenters must know how to safely operate power tools, including miter saws.
Bench carpenters must know how to safely operate power tools, including miter saws.

Many of the tools a bench carpenter will use are designed for cutting or shaping wood. Saws, routers, drills, and lathes are all common tools used to remove wood from raw materials. Hand tools such as planes, chisels, and files may also be used, especially for more detailed work. More advanced workshops will include computer numeric control (CNC) machines that are more automated and require less direct human control. Larger woodworking ships will feature such machines, which tend to be more complex as well as more expensive than hand tools or many power tools.

A bench carpenter may create any number of different products. Some of the most common products produced by such carpenters include chairs, tables, drawers, desks, and cabinets. Other items may include frames, aesthetic or decorative pieces, or even more structural pieces such as stairways, banisters, and hardwood floors. Any other products that involve the cutting and shaping of wood will be usually made by carpenters. A house framer, for example, will work exclusively with the process of erecting the skeletons of homes and other buildings. He or she will work on a job site with various pieces of wood to create a structure that will support the weight of all materials associated with the building.

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