Is There a Difference Between Woodworking and Carpentry?

When it comes to woodworking and carpentry, the terms are often used interchangeably. Most people know that both woodworkers and carpenters work with wood, which leads to their professions being thought of as intertwined.

Those that are curious or want to dig deeper ask: Is there a difference between woodworking and carpentry? The main difference between woodworking and carpentry is that woodworkers make things out of wood (think cabinets, furniture, and instruments) and carpenters install those things made out of wood (think of installing cabinets, floors, and doors).

While woodworking and carpentry have one large difference, they also have quite a few other differences. To make sure you know all the important aspects of woodworking and carpentry, we’ve researched and compiled the ins and outs of woodworking, the ins and outs of carpentry, the differences they share, and even some of the similarities they share.

Woodworking vs. Carpentry

To take a closer look at the main differences between woodworking and carpentry, it’s helpful to know more about both of the trades and professions in-depth. What does woodworking entail? What about carpentry? Let’s take a look!

The Ins and Outs of Woodworking

Woodworking is often compared to an art form, and many would agree with the analogy. Woodworking is the art of manufacturing a large variety of products from wood, whether it be lumber or synthetic wood materials.

Woodworkers are responsible for making products that are very common in our lives, like cabinets, furniture, instruments, and dishes. Many are also responsible for making smaller crafts out of wood, like sculptures and trinkets.

Woodworking often takes place in manufacturing plants and large industrial spaces, as many wood products are mass produced. Other woodworking can take place in smaller industrial spaces and shops.

Tools Woodworkers Use

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, woodworking in the modern day isn’t just craftsmen using tools to build detailed furniture and other products; modern woodworking is very technical and involves highly skilled operators and advanced equipment and machinery.

Woodworkers today will operate machinery and tools like:

  • Automated machinery
  • Computerized Numerical Control machines
  • Saws
  • Milling machines
  • Shapers
  • Planers
  • Sanders
  • Drill Presses
  • Wood-fastening machines

Types of Woodworkers

There are actually various types of woodworkers that different craft things from wood. They include carvers, luthiers, framers, furniture makers, whittlers and turners. Additionally, there are also woodworking machine setters and operators, as well as wood sawing setters and operators – those who are responsible for setting up and operating woodworking machines.


Carvers form specific shapes and details from wood.


Luthiers are the types of woodworkers that make musical instruments from wood.


Framers in woodworking are responsible for framing roofs, floors, or walls of structures.

Furniture Makers

When it comes to woodworking, furniture makers are just like they sound: they make furniture from wood. Cabinet makers are often included in this category.


Whittlers can be hobbyists and non-professionals in the woodworking world. They carve smaller objects out of wood.


Turners are the types of woodworkers that make bowls, dishes, cups, and other types of crafts that involve turning.

The Ins and Outs of Carpentry

Carpenters can be described as those who are responsible for constructing, repairing, and installing structures and materials made from wood. Carpentry is associated with the construction industry, and is highly involved with it.

Carpenters have a wide variety of tasks that can change depending on the nature and location of a job. They’re often involved in construction projects from the beginning to the end, and are known to build and repair structures like window frames, door frames and stairways. They also install woodwork, like floors, cabinets, shelving, and other fixtures.

Some carpenters are even responsible for insulating buildings and installing drywall, where others can be responsible for erecting the scaffolding on buildings.

Carpenters work on job sites – wherever they may be – so the job locations are very versatile. They may do their work on residential sites, commercial sites, and even industrial sites, either indoor or outdoor.

Tools Carpenters Use

Since carpenters are so highly involved in the construction industry, they can be caught operating a large variety of tools and machinery.

Carpenters use the following tools:

  • Sanders
  • Nail guns
  • Welding machines
  • Circular saws
  • Chisels
  • Levels
  • Squares
  • Adhesives
  • Screws
  • Nails

Types of Carpenters

Like woodworking, there are also different types of carpenters. They include rough carpenters, joisters, trim carpenters, ship carpenters, and roofers. Something to keep in mind is the fact that carpenters are often skilled in other trades due to their involvement with the construction industry.

Often, general contractors will also be carpenters, and vice versa. However, it’s still common that carpenters work solely in carpentry or in their chosen specialization.

Rough Carpenters

Rough carpenters are responsible for structural work, like building and installing formwork, roofing, and frames.


These carpenters lay floor joints onto floors in which a floor surface is set to be fixed.

Trim Carpenters

Trim carpenters specialize in creating and installing moldings, trims, and ornamental work.

Ship Carpenters

These carpenters specialize in boat and ship building with wood.


Roofers are the types of carpenters that do what it sounds like: they specialize in roof construction, as well as beams, rafters and trusses.

The Main Differences Between Woodworking and Carpentry

Previously, we mentioned that woodworking and carpentry have several main differences. Now that you know more about what woodworking and carpentry entail, we can explore them in depth!

Difference #1: What They Do

Perhaps the biggest difference between woodworking and carpentry is what they actually do, meaning their job duties and tasks.

Woodworkers make items out of wood, and carpenters install those items. Carpenters are of course known to construct and make some items out of wood, but not on the scale that woodworkers do – and not as their main job duty.

For example, a woodworker will make items like cabinets and shelves, and a carpenter will install those cabinets or shelves at the desired location.

Difference #2: Where They Work

You may have noticed woodworkers and carpenters work in pretty different locations. Woodworkers work in manufacturing facilities and large, industrial production places that tend to be indoors. Carpenters work on job sites that may be residential or commercial, and indoor or outdoor.

Difference #3: Their Salaries and Job Outlooks

Another difference between woodworkers and carpenters are their salaries and job outlooks, which often go hand and hand. When it comes to these two occupations, carpenters make more money on average than woodworkers, and carpenters also have a better job outlook.

On average, carpenters make $46,590 per year. The job outlook for carpenters is projected to grow at a rate of 8% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average of all occupations.

On the flip side, woodworkers make $38,640 on average per year, and the job outlook is actually projected to show little to no change at all from 2016 to 2026. This may be because of the rise of automation and advanced machinery that can produce woodwork.

A Look at the Similarities Between Woodworking and Carpentry

As you can see, there’s definitely the main difference between woodworking and carpentry, followed by some other significant differences. While woodworking and carpentry have their fair share of differences, they’ve also got some good similarities.

Similarity #1: What They Work With

You probably already hit the nail on the head with this one, but woodworking and carpentry both involve working with wood! The wood can be natural or synthetic and in many different types, but regardless – both professions exist because of the need for wood products and structures.

Additionally, woodworkers and carpenters use a lot of the same tools. Although woodworking involves a lot more specialized machinery and equipment, they can be seen using the same sorts of tools as carpenters, like saws, sanders, shapers, levels, screws and nails.

Similarity #2: Skills and Training

Both woodworkers and carpenters must go through extensive training in order to practice their crafts. Many attend community colleges or vocational schools, and many also complete apprenticeships or on the job training.

No matter how woodworkers or carpenters receive their training, it’s always extensive. This ensures the safety of the woodworkers and carpenters, the others they work with, and the safety of the consumers of their products. Many of the skills learned in woodworking and carpentry can be transferable or applied to the other. Reading drawings and blueprints is universal for both trades, as is using common tools and techniques like sawing, cutting, sanding, and boring.


I've been building things for many years, and I want to share what I've learned to try and help whoever I can. Make sure to checkout the homepage for my most read posts!

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