The difference between joinery and carpentry

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The difference between joinery and carpentry

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
modern  by Renov8 CONSTRUCTION, Modern
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Interested in the great, big world of architecture and interior design? Then you’ve undoubtedly heard the words “carpentry” and “joinery”, especially when it comes to renovations and kitchen designs. 

But what do these words mean? And more specifically, how do they differ from each other?

Leave it to us to find out…  

1. Carpentry and joinery trades

Although both are construction trades, joiners ‘join’ wood in a workshop while carpenters construct the building elements on site. But it goes a little deeper than that, which we’ll delve into. 

When deciding on who would be better for a project, keep in mind that the skill in making construction components (like windows and stairs) is in the joints, in which a joiner specialises. However, carpenters generally work on site, meaning their specialised skills are present during an ongoing project. 

2. What do carpenters do?

SANDTON KITCHEN - Grey cabinets by Linken Designs Country Wood Wood effect
Linken Designs

SANDTON KITCHEN – Grey cabinets

Linken Designs

Carpenters specialise in the creating and/or repairing of wood items in an architectural structure, such as a house or commercial building. Common jobs for a carpenter include:

• Fitting floors and staircases

• Repairing the wood in window frames

• Installing shelving and cabinetry 

• Replacing fascia and soffit. 

Read more: 45 practical kitchen cabinets to copy—to make your home more practical

3. What do joiners do?

Joiners focus on the joints of a home, including the joints areas of windows, trusses, etc. Common tasks of joiners include:

• Making the frames for doors and windows

• Creating fitted furniture

• Building staircases.

Read more: 13 staircases you have to see to believe

4. The main difference between carpentry and joinery

modern  by Renov8 CONSTRUCTION, Modern

Eatery Interior – Hertex


Although the difference between these two occupations is slim, it’s still relevant. And there are some overlaps, as most carpenters and joiners will have acquired the basics of both trades before specialising in their chosen field. However, while a joiner may be able to create a beautiful, bespoke staircase, for instance, it’s the carpenter who will fit it and ensure it’s perfect and safe in your home. 

Essentially, a joiner makes the product that a carpenter installs or repairs. 

5. How to become a joiner or a carpenter

What is crucial for working in the construction industry and specialising in wood is an eye for detail. In addition, good mathematical skills (for working out measurements) and the ability to understand complex technical plans are also important. 

On-site experience can help get you a foot in the door. If you have no experience working in construction, you may be able to start as a joiner’s assistant or labourer. After you’ve learned the basics and proven yourself, employers usually train up their existing employees instead of hiring specialists, which means you may be offered training in the carpentry- and joinery fields. 

Another way would be to apply for a full-time or part-time college course or apprenticeship in carpentry or joinery. This will supply you with the basic knowledge and skills required for the job, plus enhance your chances of finding work in the industry. 

A wide range of skills are covered when studying for carpentry or joinery, including: 

• Bench work – marking, setting out and producing joinery products

• Site work – installing first/second fixings and structural components

• Timber frame erection – putting up timber frame walls, laying floors and fixing roof structures

• CAD (computer-aided design) programmes to help create precision drawings or technical illustrations. 

6. The restoration / renovation services of RENOV8

For a seasoned restoration and renovation team, we recommend RENOV8 Construction (Pty) Ltd in Cape Town. Founded in 2005 by Sean Westraad, this company’s main focus is commercial construction and fit-outs for retail spaces and upmarket residential homes. 

What sets RENOV8 apart from competitors is the way in which the company approaches a project. Instead of following a step-by-step guide verbatim, these experts challenge the norm and think outside the box. Taking into account a client’s needs and desires, and placing emphasis on proper planning and communication between client and contractor, they consider all possible opportunities to ensure top-notch results and unique and unparalleled designs.

In their own words: “The long-term vision of RENOV8 is not to become the biggest, but rather the best at what we do.”

With perfect woodworking in mind, we present 7 modern wooden kitchens you need to see before renovating yours!

Modern houses by Casas inHAUS Modern

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