What Is Woodworking?

Wood is one of the oldest raw materials known to man. It has been used for centuries to create functional objects as well as pieces of art. Since prehistoric times, wood has been used to make shelter, dishes, idols, toys, boats, and musical instruments, among other things.

One of the biggest reasons that many individuals choose to build with wood is the fact that it is readily available. It is also one of the most beautiful and durable natural resources on the planet.

Work Environment

A woodworker is a professional or hobbyist that creates items from wood. Woodworking is often nothing more than a hobby for many people, and they spend their spare time toiling away in their woodworking shops. Some woodworkers, on the other hand, are able to turn their passion and hobby into a career.

Many of a woodworker’s creations are works of art in their own right, but they are also functional. For instance, many woodworkers specialize in making furniture and toys. Professional woodworkers will usually design and create original pieces, either for sale or for mass production. This usually involves drawing a plan and patterns, cutting out the wooden pieces, and assembling their creations from the pieces.

In order to create items from wood, a woodworker must usually have several different types of tools. Some of the most common woodworking hand tools include hammers, saws, files, and chisels. Power tools, while not absolutely necessary, can also make woodworking much easier. Some of the most common power tools for woodworking include saws, drills, and planers.

Woodworking tools must be kept sharp and in top shape. Dull woodworking tools are not only ineffective, but they can also be dangerous, since they are more likely to slip off of a piece of wood when they are being used. To prevent this, most woodworkers must sharpen their tools regularly.

Unlike some other building materials, like metal or masonry, wood is also prone deterioration over time. This material will rot and decay over time, especially if it is exposed to moisture. To prevent this, most woodworkers will usually apply a protective sealer to the wood, which helps repel water. Some of these sealers, known as stains, may even have pigments added, which alter the color of the wood and enhance its beauty.

Education Requirements

A career in woodworking generally starts out with a love for building and an eye for detail. Aspiring professional woodworkers should also have at least a basic knowledge of the different qualities of the different types of wood.

Woodworking can also be a bit of a dangerous career choice, so knowledge of and a willingness to follow basic safety rules is also very important. Failure to do so can result in potentially life threatening or at least disfiguring injuries. For example, it’s not unheard of for individuals in woodworking careers to lose digits.

Math skills are also very important when pursuing a woodworking career. Aspiring woodworkers should especially concentrate on their knowledge of measurements and geometry.

There is usually no formal training or education required for a career in woodworking. Most professional woodworkers learned their skills through practice and on the job training. Many technical institutes and vocational centers, however, offer diploma, certification, or degree programs in woodworking, cabinetmaking, or carpentry.

Woodworking Salary and Job Outlook


Professional woodworkers are typically placed into a few different categories, including cabinet makers and carpenters. According to the Bureau of labor Statistics, cabinetmakers and carpenters can make anywhere from $9.22 to $17.40 per hour, for an average yearly salary between $19,177.60 and $39,192. Some woodworkers, however, do have the potential to make more. Woodworkers that open their own woodworking business, for instance, are able to set their own prices for custom pieces. If they are talented and successful, they have the ability to earn impressive annual salaries.

Job Outlook

The majority of woodworkers are employed by manufacturers and factories designing and creating wooden products, like furniture. Construction companies, lumber dealers, and furniture repair shops also hire woodworkers and carpenters as well. Some individuals interested in a woodworking career may also want to consider opening their own woodworking shop. By doing this, they are able to design and create their own original and custom pieces. Some woodshop owners might also consider offering a few basic courses in woodworking as well, in order to supplement their incomes.


FAST FACTS: Woodworkers
2016 Median Pay

$30,850 per year
$14.83 per hour

Recommended Level of Education

High school diploma or equivalent

Number of Jobs in 2014


Expected % Change in Employment (2014-2024)

1% (Little or no change)

Expected 10 Year Employment Growth (2014-2024)


Source: BLS - Occupational Outlook Handbook

Woodworkers Salaries by Industry


Cutlery and Handtool Manufacturing


Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation)


Employment Services


Other Miscellaneous Store Retailers


Building Finishing Contractors

Source: BLS OES - Industry Profile
Mean Hourly Wage Mean Annual Wage


  1. Cleveland-Elyria, OH
  2. New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ
  3. Nashville-Davidson--Murfreesboro--Franklin, TN
  4. Stockton-Lodi, CA
  5. Dallas-Plano-Irving, TX
  6. Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, MD
  7. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA
  8. Anaheim-Santa Ana-Irvine, CA
  9. Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA
  10. Salem, OR
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics OES

Helpful Resources

Woodworking Jobs