The Difference Between Carpentry and Cabinet Making

The Difference Between Carpentry and Cabinet Making


Ready to take a new career step? Whether you’re a qualified tradesperson who wants to broaden their job opportunities or are looking to enter the trades industry for the first time, there are a huge number of hands-on career opportunities for you. Among two of the most popular programs offered by Skill360 are carpentry and cabinet making courses–with many new students wondering if there is a difference between the two.

And there is! While both occupations have similarities and are great for professionals interested in working in a creative, hands-on environment, there are differences between the two jobs that could indicate you’re better to move in one direction.

Read on to learn more about the key similarities and differences between a carpenter’s line of work and a cabinet maker. If you have further questions about the course requirements or curriculum for either, reach out to the Skill360 team.

The Similarities Between Carpentry and Cabinet Making

Both hands-on, creative, and highly qualified tradespeople, carpenters and cabinet makers can have a lot in common. Among the most common aspects of the jobs that can transfer between the two qualifications, here are a few daily tasks that both tradespeople can expect in their line of work:

  1. Working with builders, property developers, and project managers on residential, commercial, and industrial projects
  2. Working alongside other tradespeople in electrical, plumbing, flooring, and roofing during the construction phase.
  3. Opportunities to work for an employer as part of a team or go it alone. A lot of qualified tradespeople will opt to work for themselves after gaining industry experience and work as a contractor for larger teams or take on individual clients and stay self-employed.
  4. Work with manual and power-operated equipment on the day-to-day. Both carpentry and cabinet making require a lot of time in the production shop and interested students should enjoy both the planning and production stages of their work.
  5. A great understanding of building materials including woods, timbers and joinery.

The Top Differences Between Carpenters and Cabinet Makers

While at a surface level there may seem like there are more similarities between the two jobs than not, the deciding factors that go into influencing your decision to pursue carpentry or cabinet making are many.

Among the most common factors that differentiate carpentry from cabinet making are:


  1. Top-level Project Work: Most carpenters will be on a job site from project start to finish and have a broader understanding of the entire project. Why? Because carpentry can mean anything from structural wall development through to building and installing stairways, carpenters will often be included in the planning process, the construction phase, and pre-completion inspections.
  2. Structural: The most common projects completed by carpenters on large-project sites will be structural including walls, window frames, foundations, and stairs. If you’re interested in the larger picture, this could be the job for you.
  3. Materials: Carpenters will be required to have excellent working knowledge of their materials used in the structural process. From wood and plywood to wallboard, carpenters consider the confirmed building plans and recommend and source materials based on the project needs.

Cabinet Makers

  1. Smaller, detailed projects: Cabinet Makers will be brought in to work on smaller, more detailed projects within the larger structure. Including everything from kitchen and bathroom cabinetry to crown moulding and furniture, cabinet makers focus on smaller micro-sized projects rather than the entire construction build.
  2. Materials: While both carpenters and cabinet makers will need to have a great understanding of base materials, cabinet makers work predominantly with timbers and wood and will have a wider understanding of all wood uses–including exotic woods, stains, finishes, and more. Instead of only considering the structural timber that will be needed to safely build walls, windows, and doors, cabinet makers can consider design-focused timbers that will add personality and depth to a project.
  3. Finishes and Fittings: Both occupations will be required to work with fittings and journey on their projects, but cabinet makers have more room for creativity and personalisation in their joinings. While some crossover will exist between the two in terms of structural safety and need (wood glue, nails, screws, etc.) many cabinet makers will turn to unique fixtures and fittings that vary in material, colour, and design to personalise their projects. Among the many options both clients and cabinet makers can choose to customise their projects are hinges, door handles, wood stains and paints, veneers, and moulding.

Interested in learning more about the day-to-day job of a cabinet maker and what they do? Check out this article here.

Cabinet Making Roles and The Different Types of Carpenters

While the role may seem one and the same, qualified tradespeople in both cabinet making and carpentry can further specialise their jobs by opting to focus on certain projects and skills.

Among the options for specialisation in carpentry, you can consider:

  1. Rough Framing: focusing on the foundations of larger projects including floors, walls, and stairs.
  2. Finish Trim: finalising the details of larger projects including doors, baseboards, and window framing.
  3. Decking: focusing on post and beam framing, joists, and hanger layouts.
  4. Shipwright: specialising in boat builds and repairs.
  5. Flooring: specialising in fixing and levelling floors, laminates, and hardwoods.

And for cabinet makers you might opt to specialise in:

  1. Furniture making
  2. Cabinets, built-in, and bookshelves
  3. Crown moulding, baseboards
  4. Coffins
  5. Detailed woodworking including etching, burning, finishing, and staining

Work with Skill360 to Transition into Cabinet Making or Carpentry

Skill360 is one of Australia’s leading Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) that works with both existing tradespeople interested in upskilling and new students interested in entering into the workforce.

With support to help find the right program for you, we can streamline the decision making and application process so you can dive into learning new skills and creating a great new career path today. If you want to know more about how to become a certified cabinet maker or undertaking MSF31113 Certificate III in Cabinet Making, connect with our friendly team to discuss the program and application requirements for both courses and learn how you can become a qualified tradesperson working with Skill360 today.

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