What does a Wood Machinist do?

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  • Written By: S. Gonzales
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2019
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A wood machinist cuts and prepares wood for sale. Finished products may be sold to builders' merchants, home improvement stores or used by the furniture-making and construction industries. Common items that a wood machinist prepares from the raw material of timber include frames for doors and windows, floorboards and staircases, kitchen cabinets and fence parts.

The job requires a fair amount of technical expertise. To be a wood machinist, one must have acquired certain technical skills. The abilities to plan projects using technical drawings, select appropriate wood types based on projects and evaluate wood needs as projects develop are all required for a wood machinist to be successful in his trade. Besides being able to physically cut and saw timber to specification, a wood machinist is expected to know how to clean and repair his equipment.


A good way to start a career in wood machinery is to get a job in construction. Working in a timber yard is one of the best ways to advertise to an employer that one is interested in becoming a wood machinist. The employer may then offer technical training in the area to interested parties. Becoming an apprentice of a wood machinist who is already established is another valid way to pursue a career in wood machinery, as the skills learned from the apprenticeship can lead to an actual job in wood machinery. College courses may be taken, though one should not neglect taking jobs or apprenticeships during the length of their study because employers place a high value on experience.

On the technical side, abilities with wood-turning, wood drying and surface treatment will be an important attribute of any professional. In addition to having special training to complete everyday projects, a machinist must also be prepared to divide wood, make jigs and fixtures, carve wood moldings, trim interior wood, polish, veneer and do jig milling at any time. All of these tasks have to be able to be performed unsupervised. These skills will ensure that each project can be successfully completed on time and without the benefit of a superior or special instructions.

Computer skills can be an asset to anyone interested in becoming a wood machinist. Technology has now made it possible for wood machinists to use computers for designing and manufacturing end products. Becoming acquainted with the programs that wood machinists use can significantly reduce the workload involved in finding wood, preparing it and creating it into a finished product.


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Post 3

@KoiwiGal - That's definitely true. I knew a guy who did an apprenticeship as a carpenter, so he was learning some wood machinist skills as well. At least, in theory. In reality, his boss made him do all the grunt work and didn't teach him any real skills at all.

He kept thinking, maybe today I'll get to learn something important, but a whole year went past and he never did. Eventually he quit and went and took a few courses. He was put straight into working where he wanted to be.

I'm not saying apprenticeships are always going to be like that, but you have to be careful.

Post 2

@Iluviaporos - I think it depends on the course, really. If you manage to get into a good one, underneath someone who is known in their field, you can pick up some good skills.

And I would imagine that any course catering to a person who wants to be a wood machinist would be pretty hands on anyway. Most of the community courses I've seen offer to get you into work experience as well.

And another advantage is that if you are doing a good course you'll be learning the basics of every aspect of the job, while as an apprentice you are at the mercy of your boss as to what you learn.

Post 1

I would recommend looking out for grants if you are thinking of becoming an apprentice in this field. I've noticed that there is more and more help available for people who prefer to jump straight into the job, rather than go to university.

This is a good thing, because it means you won't have student loans. And I personally think that at the moment many degrees are barely worth the paper they are printed on. They might be a good personal learning experience, but I would be much more likely to hire someone who has actually done the job for the last few years, rather than reading about the job, you know?

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