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.
Even after you've applied your chosen finish, wood will continue to move. As the wood absorbs and loses moisture from one season to the next, components can twist and bind. For example, a tall cabinet door with glass panels that I built several years ago tends to curve from top to bottom every time the moisture content in the air goes up. The rails and stiles on the door are quite narrow, so I should have chosen straighter-grained stock when originally selecting my lumber.
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In general, you can expect to spend three to four years obtaining a combination of classroom and on-the-job training in order to become a carpenter. While you won't technically be considered a carpenter until reaching journeyworker status at the end of the training period, you will have the opportunity to pursue a paid position in the field for the duration of your training. Compared to the amount of time it takes to learn how to be an electrician, and training for some other trades, the length of time it takes to get journeyworker status as a carpenter is relatively reasonable.
Looking at the back-right Leg, lay a ½ x ½ dowel along the Leg to act as a spacer. Now place the ends of the Shelf Support and Apron against the Leg as shown. Apply glue to the end of each board, clamp it in place, and then attach it using a drill/driver and 1¼ inch pocket hole screws. Attach the opposite end of each board to the adjoining Leg. Repeat to join the Front Legs with the front Shelf Support and Apron Boards.
Carpentry students from Loveland schools who go on to become carpenters, construction managers, construction workers, construction engineers, etc. have a good chance at finding employment. For example, there are 743,760 people working as carpenters alone in the US, and their average annual salary is $43,640. Also, Construction laborers make on average $33,190 per year and there are about 856,440 of them employed in the US today. In fact, in the Fort Collins-Loveland area alone, there are 760 employed construction laborers earning an average salary of $29,460. Carpenters in this area earn $39,170/yr and there are 770 employed.
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!