Carpentry Skills List and Examples

Carpenter at her tool bench
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Carpenters construct and repair building structures made from wood and other materials, including door frames, stairways, and more. They also install household items such as cabinets, drywall, and siding.

Carpenters have a variety of skills. Some even specialize in particular tasks, including insulating buildings or building kitchen cabinets. There are also different types of carpenters, including residential, commercial, and industrial carpenters.

Here is a list of the top six most important skills for a carpenter, as well as attached lists of related skills that employers seek in candidates for carpentry jobs.

Top Six Carpentry Skills

1. Mechanical Skills 
Carpenters utilize mechanical skills to work with a variety of tools and machines. These might include ladders, electronic levels, and rotary tools such as power saws. Carpenters must be comfortable operating, and occasionally repairing, these types of tools.

  • Appliance Installation
  • Building Housing Additions
  • Building House Foundations
  • Cabinet Building
  • Commercial Construction
  • Drilling
  • Framing
  • Furniture Making
  • Insulation
  • New Construction
  • Paneling
  • Refinishing
  • Remodeling
  • Renovation
  • Repairs
  • Residential Construction
  • Restoration
  • Rough to Finish
  • Sanding
  • Sawing
  • Trimming
  • Woodworking

2. Math Skills 
Carpenters require math skills in order to accurately measure materials to be cut and installed. They also use their math skills to plan projects – this might include reading blueprints and making measurements, as well as calculating costs to make sure the project comes in under budget. Frequently used math skills include arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and even calculus and statistics.

  • Budgeting
  • Estimates
  • Marking
  • Measuring

3. Detail Orientation
Carpenters must be very precise in their work. They have to measure distances and the size of items exactly when installing household items. An eye for detail helps with making measurements and fitting structures.

  • Building Codes
  • Building Plans
  • Cutting
  • Finishing
  • Installation
  • Quality Control
  • Reading Blueprints

4. Critical Thinking Skills
Carpenters must be able to problem-solve when issues arise in a project. Often, projects run longer than expected or errors occur, such as materials arriving late or in the wrong size. Carpenters have to think critically to solve these issues. With strong critical thinking skills, carpenters can use logic not only to solve problems, but even to foresee them before they occur and avoid them.

  • Design
  • Layout
  • Ordering
  • Ornamental Design
  • Planning
  • Project Management
  • Problem Solving
  • Time Management
  • Troubleshooting

5. Physical Strength
Physical strength is critical, since carpenters lift and wield heavy tools and materials, including lumber (which can often be quite heavy). They also need physical stamina – most jobs require standing, climbing, lifting objects, and/or bending down for long periods at a time.

  • Hand-Eye Coordination
  • Hand Tools
  • Maintenance
  • Manual Dexterity
  • Nailing
  • Painting
  • Power Tools
  • Rigging

6. Communication
Communication is a useful soft skill for carpenters. They should be able to communicate effectively with clients, as well as listening carefully so they can understand what the client requires. They also need to be able to explain complex technical issues to their clients. Customers appreciate a carpenter who listens to their needs and explains things clearly and kindly.

  • Communications Skills
  • Computer Skills
  • Customer Relations
  • Customer Service
  • Personal Relations
  • Sales
  • Scheduling
  • Supervision

How to Use Skills Lists in Your Job Search

When you are beginning your job search, you’ll find that most of the job advertisements you read mention many of the skills listed here. It’s important to echo the keyword phrases that employers emphasize in your resume, in your cover letter, and in your interview.

This is because many employers utilize automated applicant tracking systems to screen the resumes they receive. If your resume and its attached cover letter do not contain many of the keywords that these systems are programmed to search for, your application may be immediately screened out, never reaching the human eye of a hiring manager.

Even if you are applying for local employers who don’t use these state-of-the-art systems, hiring managers are still going to give greater consideration to job candidates whose resumes “fit” the requirements of their job announcement most closely.

To position your carpenter job application for success, then, try to mention and provide specific examples of your expertise in these carpentry skills on your resume and in your cover letter. Then, when you’re called for a personal interview, remember that you’ll probably be asked to provide more details about your mechanical, mathematical, critical thinking, and communications acumen.