Furnishing your own nest

Cabinet makers make pieces of furniture such as chairs, tables, chests of drawers and storage or display cabinets.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 8th July 2012, 8:44 am

They may also restore antiques or repair damaged furniture.

If you are looking for a fulfilling career that combines creativity and practical skills, this could be ideal for you.

To be a cabinet maker, you should have practical skills for using hand and machine tools.

You will need to able to understand designs and technical drawings and need patience and attention to detail.

As a cabinet maker, your work would normally include creating a design drawing of the furniture, deciding on the quantity and type of wood needed and the construction method, buying the wood from suppliers such as timber yards, cutting, shaping and planing the wood using electric and hand tools, fixing the parts together, adding other fixed or movable parts such as brackets, hinges, handles and locks and polishing the assembled piece of furniture.

If you deal directly with customers, you would also discuss designs and agree prices.

Your working hours will depend on whether you are employed or self-employed.

If you were working in a factory, for example, you would usually work a basic 39-hour week, which can involve shift work.

If you were self-employed, you would arrange your own working hours.

You may sometimes need to work long hours and at weekends to meet deadlines, and you would usually travel regularly to collect wood and other materials from suppliers, and to deliver finished items to clients.

Starting salaries can be around £12,000 a year. Experienced cabinet makers can earn from £15,000 to around £30,000 a year.

Earnings for self-employed cabinet makers vary widely, depending on the type of work they do and the amount of work they have.

You can gain relevant skills on a number of courses, including City & Guilds Certificates and Diplomas in Furniture, Furnishings and Wood Machining.

You could also do a higher level course that includes both design and practical skills. These include BTEC HNDs, foundation degrees and degrees in subjects such as furniture design, furniture studies, and furniture design and making.

To search for higher level courses, see the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website. Entry requirements can vary, so you should check with individual colleges or universities.

Once you are working as a cabinet maker, you may be able to complete qualifications such as levels 2 and 3 NVQ Diploma in Furniture Making.

To be a cabinet maker, you should have practical skills for using hand and machine tools, the ability to understand, draft or adapt designs and technical drawings, the ability to work out quantities, measurements and costs, patience, accuracy and attention to detail, good customer service skills, business skills if self-employed.

You could work as a cabinet maker in the furniture, kitchen or shopfitting industries. With experience, you may be able to progress to a supervisor job or to training other staff.