How to become a Cabinet Maker. Read through our comprehensive job guide to learn more about this career.
What does a Cabinet Maker do?
Cabinet makers make individually designed and produced pieces of furniture such as chairs, tables, chests of drawers and storage or display cabinets. They may also restore antiques or repair damaged furniture.
As a cabinet maker, your work would typically include:
- creating a design drawing of the furniture
- deciding on the quantity and type of wood needed and the method of construction
- buying the wood from suppliers such as timber yards
- cutting, shaping and planning the wood, using electric and hand tools
- fixing the parts together
- adding other fixed or movable parts such as brackets, hinges, handles and locks
- polishing the assembled piece of furniture (this may be done by a French polisher).
If you deal directly with customers, you would also discuss designs and negotiate prices.
Your working hours will depend on whether you work in a factory or are self-employed.
In a factory you will usually work a basic 39-hour week, which can involve shift work. If you are self-employed you will arrange your own working hours. You may sometimes need to work long hours and at weekends to meet deadlines, and will usually travel regularly to collect wood and other materials from suppliers, and to deliver finished items to clients.
How much does a Cabinet Maker earn?
Salary and pay information:
- Starting salaries can be around £16,000 a year.
- Experienced cabinet makers can earn from £18,000 to around £32,000.
Earnings for self-employed cabinet makers vary widely, depending on the type of work they do and the amount of work they have.
Figures are intended as a guideline only.
You can gain relevant skills on a number of courses, including City & Guilds Certificate in Furniture Production at levels 1, 2 and 3 (available until December 2010).
You could also do a higher level course which includes both design and practical skills. Courses of this type include BTEC HNDs, foundation degrees and degrees in subjects such as furniture design, furniture studies or furniture design and making. To search for courses, see the UCAS website. Entry requirements can vary, so you should check with individual colleges or universities.
You may be able to get into this job through an Apprenticeship scheme. The range of Apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers. To find out more about Apprenticeships, visit the Apprenticeships website.
Training and Development
Once you are working as a cabinet maker, you may be able to complete qualifications such as:
- NVQ Level 2 in Making and Installing Furniture (available until December 2020)
- NVQ Level 3 in Making and Repairing Hand-crafted Furniture and Furnishings (available until April 2011)
- levels 2 and 3 NVQ Diploma in Furniture Making.
Skills and Knowledge
- 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 business and customer service skills, particularly if self-employed.
You could work as a cabinet maker in the furniture, kitchen or shop fitting industries. With experience, you may be able to progress to a supervisory job, or to training other staff.
Vacancies are advertised in the press and through Jobcentre Plus and recruitment agencies.
Alternatively, you could set up your own business, perhaps specialising in a particular type of furniture, restoring antique furniture, or designing and making a range of furniture.