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An associate's degree program can be very valuable if your ultimate goals extend to working in management since many leadership roles require a degree credential in a related field. However, if you are more interested in the hands-on aspect of the profession, then a diploma or certificate program can provide the technical knowledge needed to meet the demands of the job.
Certain species of wood have traditionally been associated with different styles of furniture. The wood of choice for the Arts & Crafts movement was quarter sawn white oak, valued for its appearance, durability and dimensional stability. An Arts & Crafts style piece executed in maple might be a well-made example of a classic style, but the choice of wood would be visually at odds with the design. Pine and other softwoods impart a more relaxed, country influence, while traditional hardwoods, such as cherry and walnut, are more likely to be associated with fine furniture.
Lumber for your projects can come from many sources, but before you can use it to build anything, it must be dry. Lumber that is kiln dried will have a moisture content right out of the kiln of 7 or 8%. However, by the time the lumber is delivered to your local dealer and arrives at your shop, the moisture content may have changed dramatically. Storage conditions between the kiln and your shop are clearly out of your control, so it is always a good idea after purchasing lumber to acclimatize it in your shop for several weeks. To avoid using lumber that is still in the process of adjusting to its new environment it is best to use a moisture meter to verify the moisture content of the wood. Most dealers don't mind customers checking the moisture content at the yard as long as they are using a pinless meter. The meter in my lumber kit uses electromagnetic waves to calculate the moisture content of a given piece of wood. Its use couldn't be simpler or quicker – simply turn it on, enter the species, and place the meter on the wood to be measured. The result is displayed right on the screen instantly without the need for conversion tables and other calculations. Typically, I check a couple of areas on each board as I select them just to confirm they are all in the same moisture range. Back at the shop I once more check each piece of wood and note it in chalk on the board. Every few days I'll recheck the boards, and when the readings have stabilized, I can be reasonably certain there won't be any surprises when I start the milling process.
There are no formal education or training requirements to become a carpenter in the U.S., but the BLS reports that three to four years of experience is the industry standard for becoming a skilled craftsperson. Training and experience can be acquired by working with an experienced journeyman or through an apprenticeship offered by an employer or labor union. Formal in-class instruction is offered through certificate, diploma or associate's degree programs in carpentry at trade or vocational schools. Employees with some formal carpentry education generally start at higher positions in the field. Carpentry courses may include carpentry math, building layouts, foundation work, roofing, stair construction, siding and moldings. You can also study interior and exterior finishes.
Advanced residential carpenter classes focus on teaching students techniques in planning, measuring, installing fixtures and reading blueprints. Students learn about distance measurement and leveling and also review the equipment and tools used in site layout. Other advanced topics covered are exterior wall components and systems, insulation and applied building codes. Students in advanced carpentry classes also review how to read the symbols and abbreviations used on residential blueprints and practice job estimating, sustainable building practices and energy efficiency techniques.
1. Power jointer and thickness planer. I have developed various means of straightening the edges of my stock with hand-held tools, but I don’t see a way to efficiently flatten the faces of rough or reclaimed lumber without a power jointer. It’s part of the first few steps for any furniture project, and I want to be able to move through this step quickly and into the more interesting work. The thickness planer is also a huge time-saver, compared to hand-held tools.
Screwdrivers are another must-have in the woodworker’s set of hand tools. Not only will you need Phillips and slot, or flathead screwdrivers, you’ll need star drivers and Torx drivers, too. A quality construction is vital to a good set of screwdrivers. So many of them are made out of soft metal, and the first time you put any “oomph” behind them, they strip out, becoming absolutely useless.
Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!