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Become A Custom Shop Worker

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Working As A Custom Shop Worker

  • Controlling Machines and Processes
  • Handling and Moving Objects
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Getting Information
  • Performing General Physical Activities
  • Deal with People

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Repetitive

  • $41,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Custom Shop Worker Do

Woodworkers manufacture a variety of products such as cabinets and furniture, using wood, veneers, and laminates. They often combine and incorporate different materials into wood.

Duties

Woodworkers typically do the following:

  • Understand detailed architectural drawings, schematics, shop drawings, and blueprints
  • Prepare and set up machines and tooling for woodwork manufacturing
  • Lift wood pieces onto machines, either by hand or with hoists
  • Operate woodworking machines, including saws and milling and sanding machines
  • Listen for unusual sounds or detect excessive vibration in machinery
  • Ensure that products meet industry standards and project specifications, making adjustments as necessary
  • Select and adjust the proper cutting, milling, boring, and sanding tools for completing a job
  • Use hand tools to trim pieces or assemble products

Despite the abundance of plastics, metals, and other materials, wood products continue to be an important part of our daily lives. Woodworkers make wood products from lumber and synthetic wood materials. Many of these products, including most furniture, kitchen cabinets, and musical instruments, are mass produced. Other products are custom made from architectural designs and drawings.

Although the term “woodworker” may evoke the image of a craftsman who uses hand tools to build ornate furniture, the modern woodworking trade is highly technical and relies on advanced equipment and highly skilled operators. Workers use automated machinery, such as computerized numerical control (CNC) machines, to do much of the work with great accuracy.

Even specialized artisans generally use CNC machines and a variety of power tools in their work. Much of the work is done in a high-production assembly line facility, but there is also some work that is customized and does not lend itself to being made on an assembly line.

Woodworkers set up, operate, and tend all types of woodworking machines, such as saws, milling machines, drill presses, lathes, shapers, routers, sanders, planers, and wood-fastening machines. Operators set up the equipment, cut and shape wooden parts, and verify dimensions, using a template, caliper, and rule. After the parts are machined, woodworkers add fasteners and adhesives and connect the parts to form an assembled unit. They also install hardware, such as pulls and drawer slides, and fit specialty products for glass, metal trims, electrical components, and stone. Finally, workers then sand, stain, and, if necessary, coat the wood product with a sealer or topcoats, such as a lacquer or varnish.

Many of these tasks are handled by different workers with specialized training.

The following are examples of types of woodworkers:

Cabinetmakers and bench carpenters cut, shape, assemble, and make parts for wood products. They often design and create sets of cabinets that are customized for particular spaces. In some cases, their duties begin with designing a set of cabinets to specifications and end with installing the cabinets.

Furniture finishers shape, finish, and refinish damaged and worn furniture. They may work with antiques and must judge how to preserve and repair them. They also do the staining, sealing, and top coating at the end of the process of making wooden products.

Wood sawing machine setters, operators, and tenders specialize in operating specific pieces of woodworking machinery. They often operate CNC machines.

Woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing, operate woodworking machines, such as drill presses, lathes, routers, sanders, and planers.

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How To Become A Custom Shop Worker

A high school diploma is typically required to become a woodworker. Although some entry-level jobs can be learned in less than 1 year, becoming fully proficient generally takes at least 3 years of on-the-job training. The ability to use computer-controlled machinery is becoming increasingly important.

Education

Because of the growing sophistication of machinery, many employers are seeking applicants who have a high school diploma or the equivalent. People seeking woodworking jobs can enhance their employment prospects by completing high school and getting training in computer applications and math.

Some woodworkers obtain their skills by taking courses at technical schools or community colleges. Others attend universities that offer training in wood technology, furniture manufacturing, wood engineering, and production management. These programs prepare students for jobs in production, supervision, engineering, and management, and are becoming increasingly important as woodworking technology advances.

Training

Education is helpful, but woodworkers are trained primarily on the job, where they learn skills from experienced workers. Beginning workers are given basic tasks, such as placing a piece of wood through a machine and stacking the finished product at the end of the process.

As they gain experience, new woodworkers perform more complex tasks with less supervision. In about 1 year, they learn basic machine operations and job tasks. Becoming a skilled woodworker often takes 3 or more years. Skilled workers can read blueprints, set up machines, and plan work sequences.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Although not required, becoming certified can demonstrate competence and professionalism. It also may help a candidate advance in the profession. The Architectural Woodwork Institute (AWI) publishes product standards for the industry, and offers training programs for mid-management positions. The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America offers a national certificate program, with five progressive credentials, which adds a level of credibility to the work of woodworkers.

Important Qualities

Detail oriented. Woodworkers must pay attention to details in order to meet specifications and to keep themselves safe.

Dexterity. Woodworkers must make precise cuts with a variety of hand tools and power tools, so they need a steady hand and good hand-eye coordination.

Math skills. Knowledge of basic math and computer skills are important, particularly for those who work in manufacturing, in which technology continues to advance. Woodworkers need to understand basic geometry to visualize how the wood pieces will fit together to fabricate a three-dimensional object, such as a cabinet or piece of furniture.

Mechanical skills. The use of hand tools such as screwdrivers and wrenches, is required to set up, adjust, and calibrate machines. Modern technology systems require woodworkers to be able to use computers and other programmable devices.

Physical stamina. The ability to endure long periods of standing and repetitious movements is crucial for woodworkers, who often stand all day performing many of the same functions.

Physical strength. Woodworkers must be strong enough to lift bulky and heavy pieces of wood.

Technical skills. Woodworkers must be able to understand and interpret design drawings and technical manuals for a range of products and machines.

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Custom Shop Worker Typical Career Paths

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Custom Shop Worker Demographics

Gender

Male

48.1%

Female

41.1%

Unknown

10.9%
Ethnicity

White

62.9%

Hispanic or Latino

18.5%

Black or African American

9.0%

Asian

5.7%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0%

Portuguese

25.0%

Italian

25.0%

Custom Shop Worker Education

Schools

Lawton Career Institute

12.5%

South Plains College

8.3%

University of Phoenix

8.3%

University of Texas at Arlington

4.2%

University of Houston

4.2%

Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania

4.2%

University of California - Santa Barbara

4.2%

Nashua Community College

4.2%

Baton Rouge Community College

4.2%

Oregon State University

4.2%

Montclair State University

4.2%

Grand Valley State University

4.2%

Husson University

4.2%

Brigham Young University

4.2%

Pima Community College

4.2%

Upper Iowa University

4.2%

University of Kansas

4.2%

Otero Junior College

4.2%

Bakersfield College

4.2%

Lane Community College

4.2%
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Majors

Business

16.1%

Medical Assisting Services

8.9%

Fine Arts

5.4%

Computer Science

5.4%

Graphic Design

5.4%

Kinesiology

5.4%

General Studies

5.4%

Legal Support Services

5.4%

Education

5.4%

Cosmetology

3.6%

English

3.6%

Culinary Arts

3.6%

Computer Applications

3.6%

Public Relations

3.6%

Secretarial And Administrative Science

3.6%

Nursing

3.6%

Communication

3.6%

Real Estate

3.6%

Accounting

3.6%

Communication Disorders Sciences

1.8%
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Degrees

Other

40.4%

Bachelors

22.5%

Associate

19.1%

Certificate

10.1%

Masters

3.4%

License

2.2%

Diploma

2.2%
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