Cabinet makers make pieces of furniture such as chairs, tables, chests of drawers and storage or display cabinets. 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. You will also need patience and attention to detail. You may be able to start in this career through an Apprenticeship scheme. You could also do a higher level course that includes both design and practical skills.
• creating design drawings for furniture
• deciding on the quantity and type of wood needed and the construction methods
• buying the wood from suppliers such as timber yards
• cutting, shaping and planing the wood, using hand, power and computer-controlled tools
• fixing the parts together
• adding other fixed or movable parts such as brackets, hinges, handles and locks
• finishing the assembled pieces of furniture, for example with veneers, lacquers or French polish.
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 supervisor job then production manager. You could also train other staff.
Another option is to set up your own business, perhaps specializing in a particular type of furniture, restoring antique furniture, or designing and making furniture ranges.
Vacancies are advertised in the press, by Jobcentre Plus and by recruitment agencies.
Another option is to take a college course, which would give you some of the skills needed to find a trainee position with a furniture makers or installation firm. Courses include:
• Level 1 Certificate in Basic Construction Skills (options in cabinet making)
• Level 1 Certificate in Construction Crafts (options in carpentry and joinery)
• Level 2 Certificate in Construction and Building Crafts
• Level 2 Diploma in Construction Crafts.
You can find more information about working in the furniture making industry on the Pro skills website.
Once you are working as a cabinet maker, you could study towards further industry qualifications, such as:
• Level 2 Diploma in Furniture Installation
• Level 2 (NVQ) Diploma in Fitted Furniture and Interiors
• Level 3 Diploma in Furniture Design and Making.
There are also higher education courses that include both design and practical craft skills. These include HNDs, foundation degrees and degrees in subjects like 3D design and furniture design. You can search for higher education courses on the UCAS website.
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
Starting salaries can be around 12,000 a year. Skilled and experienced cabinet makers can earn from 15,000 to 25,000 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.