The difference between a Joiner and a Carpenter

What is the difference between a joiner and a carpenter?


Many people are unsure of what is the difference between a joiner and a carpenter. If you need something making or fixing that involves wood do you contact a joiner or a carpenter? This is a common question asked as to whether there is actually any difference between the two.

Both joiners and carpenters have many shared traits. Throughout the UK they seem to be referred to differently depending on location. For example, the South of England seem to use the term carpenter whereas the North of England tend to use the term joiner. They are of course both trades within the construction industry and involve largely working with wood. They are however classed as two unique and separate trades. They both come under the term ‘carpentry’ however their skills and specialisms differ.

A joiner is a trained craftsman who makes or joins the wood, usually in a workshop, whereas a carpenter constructs the timber on site. In simple terms a joiner makes the wood that a carpenter then fixes on site. A joiner therefore is usually associated with making doors, windows, staircases and fitted furniture that are normally made in a workshop off site, due to the heavy machinery involved.  A carpenter however tends to specialise in larger elements such as constructing and fitting roof trusses, stud work and floors on site, by cutting and fitting them together, using a range of materials and tools. Carpenters however are responsible for the assembly and framework of a structure. Because of the small, light tools that they use, it means they are much more flexible and are able to work almost anywhere.

There will however be some overlap as both joiners and carpenters will have learnt about the basic of both trades whilst studying as an apprentice.


Should clients/ customers consequently be more cautious when choosing whether to hire a carpenter or joiner?

It may be worth asking the company or individual what they specialise in, particularly if you require more specific workings. For example, a joiner may be able to make a particular item whereas a carpenter may be better doing the actual fitting.

A common view on how to distinguish between joiners and carpenters is that joiners do not use nails or glue for their work, as their work is ‘joined’ together, hence the name. Because of this their items are usually more expensive as more craftsmanship and skill goes into their work, as well as taking longer to construct.

Carpentry and joinery therefore should be categorised under two different trades, however there is indeed a lot of overlap in their extremely high skilled work.

Here at Oliver Wild Ltd we employ both joiners and carpenters and therefore have a range of specialisms to suit all of your needs. For more information, please see our list of services and examples of our work or alternatively give us a call on 0114 2486907.


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Oliver Wild Ltd, Unit A4 Alison Business Centre, Sheffield, S2 1AS, Company Number: 7803633, VAT Number: 177-1194-93