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What does a joiner do?

Just about everywhere you look you will see work that has been completed by a professional joiner. A chest of drawers in your bedroom, the wooden front door leading to your house, the shelving unit in the study… these were all created with a professional joiner present.

Even though there are no specific qualifications required to work as a joiner (differentiating them from, say, architects who need to study for a specific degree before they can do their work), most employers will expect a joiner to have some on-site construction experience. Even if a joiner has no experience, they can start as a labourer or a joiner’s apprentice and learn on the job.

Of course there is always the option of taking a course at a college in joinery or carpentry, which would ensure the necessary practical skills and knowledge for the job requirements. This will also increase the professionals’ chances of finding work in the industry. However, knowing the basics of Math (to take measurements, accurately interpret designs, make products, and work with clients’ budgets) and English are quite crucial in order to work competitively as a joiner.

A typical day in the life of a joiner can include:

  • Spending time in a workshop fitting various items for future installation by carpenters, which could include anything from making staircases and kitchen cabinets to constructing shelving units and timber frames;
  • Working with various woodworking machinery and tools to become more familiar with their different uses;
  • Using computer-aided design (CAD) software in designs;
  • Cutting and shaping wood for floors, furniture, doors, and frames.

What is the difference between a joiner and a carpenter?

Carpentry and joinery are both construction trades. But to break it down into simpler terms, joiners ‘join’ wood in a workshop while Carpenters construct the building elements on-site.

If you ever find yourself wondering which professional would be the best to hire for a project, keep in mind that the skill in making construction components (like windows, ceiling trusses, stairs, doors, etc.) is in the joints. This is the area in which a joiner specialises. Some of the more common jobs / activities undertaken by joiners include:

·         Making doors and window frames

·         Creating fitted furniture

·         Building stars.

Carpenters, on the other hand, normally work on-site, which means their specialised skill is in dealing wood fixtures in the context of a continuous job. Some of the more usual tasks for Carpenters include:

·         Fitting floors and staircases

·         Fixing window frames

·         Installing cabinets, cupboards and shelving.

At the end of the day, there will be various areas overlapping between these two professions. That is because most Carpenters and joiners will learn the basics of both trades while enhancing their skills and building up work experience. However, while you can rely on a joiner to make a beautiful bespoke staircase, for instance, a Carpenter might do a better job at fitting said staircase into your house.

Think of it this way: A joiner is essentially a professional who makes the product that a Carpenter will install or repair.

What to look for when hiring a joiner

➣ Recommendations

With homify’s vast collection of professionals in the design / architectural / construction industry, you don’t need to look far for recommended joiners. Word of mouth is also a possibility, which can generally prove more reliable than many online reviews. As soon as you’ve made contact with a joiner that you’re considering for a job, try and obtain references from previous clients and professionals who worked with the joiner – these are sure to provide you with a general idea of what’s it like to work with the joiner.

➣ Obtain quote comparisons

Try and get at least three quotes from three different joiners before you pick one for your project. If you have a specific budget, make it known to the joiners who are quoting for the job. If what you want cannot be achieved by the professionals within your budget, they should try and provide possible alternatives. And always make sure that there are no hidden costs on a quote.

➣ Materials and warranties

There are a myriad of different materials available in the construction world, and they are not all of the same quality. Ask the joiner which materials they intend to use for your project and do some research yourself. Ask about their experience with the said materials and why they choose to work with these.

➣ Work ethic

How a professional leaves a job site says a lot about his/her work ethic. Nobody wants a stranger working on their property who leaves sawdust, timber off-cuts, and random nails strewn around at the end of the day, regardless of how great a job they’ve done. Ask the joiner how they leave a job site, and be sure to repeat this question when contacting the joiner’s references.

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