What Is Industrial Woodworking?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Industrial woodworking is the large-scale production of wood products for mass distribution. This differs from artisan and craftsman woodworking, in which individual crafters produce custom pieces or small runs of matching pieces for a more limited distribution and sale. Companies that specialize in industrial woodworking can produce extremely large volumes of product and might sell to wholesalers, manufacturers and retailers that have an interest in finished wood products.

Industrial woodworking involves making a large volume of products.
Industrial woodworking involves making a large volume of products.

This field can include finished components such as cabinets, desks, tables and chairs. It also can include trim and other fittings that require woodworking. Architectural ornaments made from wood can be produced very quickly with industrial woodworking, and this might make them more cost effective and affordable for consumers such as contractors. It also is possible to order custom lots and products from industrial woodworking firms for specific projects. A firm might, for instance, order replications of historic architectural details and elements for use in restoration of historic buildings or the development of new structures that need to blend with existing buildings.

Industrial pieces might not have the same quality as pieces produced by artisan woodworkers.
Industrial pieces might not have the same quality as pieces produced by artisan woodworkers.

In industrial woodworking, the scale of the equipment is much larger. Personnel need to be able to work very quickly and with very large products, and the equipment is often automated to speed the process. Rather than hand-shaping and planing, workers monitor the machines, check finished products and change programming and controls as necessary to move on to different projects. Although they might need some training in woodworking to confirm the quality of the products, they do not manually work the goods.

Computer numerical control (CNC) is an important part of industrial woodworking. Using a machine with an on-board computer, a technician can carefully program in complex patterns and tasks. The CNC woodworking machine can create carvings, drill holes and engage in other activities to finish the product and prepare it for sale. The use of such machines can cut costs significantly, especially when a company takes advantage of the technician's training to develop more complex and demanding patterns that would be especially costly to produce by hand.

Employment in the field of industrial woodworking can be highly variable. Companies need workers on the floor to run equipment, monitor quality and route orders. There also are job opportunities in research and development, in which people develop new equipment for industrial woodworking. This can include machinery as well as safety supplies and accessory equipment to help companies manage inventory, plan projects and connect with the market for their products.

Some industrial woodworking is now done with CNC machines.
Some industrial woodworking is now done with CNC machines.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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