Cabinet makers make or repair items of furniture, either individually by hand, or on a large scale, using machines. They may specialise in, for example, restoring antique furniture or in assembling modern units, including kitchens, for the mass market. Mostly they use hardwoods such as oak, walnut or teak. Sometimes they incorporate other materials such as plastic, metal, glass, leather and fabric into their products.
You could be:
either creating or obtaining a design to work from
referring to this drawing to work out the size of the piece of furniture and the amount of wood you need
choosing the wood and other materials such as chipboard, aluminium or plastics
producing templates or prototypes for production
cutting and shaping the wood using electric and hand tools such as saws and chisels
fixing the pieces together by techniques such as dovetailing and jointing
adding any decorative features such as staining, marbling, or marquetry
smoothing the wood by hand or with a machine and finishing it with polish or lacquer
adding handles and hinges.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
where you work
the size of the company or organisation you work for
the demand of the job.
You may start as a Modern Apprentice. The apprentice rate, for those aged under 19 or aged 19 or over and in the first year of their apprenticeship, is £5.28 an hour (1 April 2023).
Qualified and experienced cabinet makers can earn from £25,000 to £35,000 a year or more.
You will work in a studio, workshop or factory.
In a factory you will work around 40 hours a week, but you may have to work shifts and overtime. If you are self-employed you may have to work late to meet deadlines.
You might have to travel to pick up wood or to deliver finished items to customers, and so a driving licence is often necessary.
Factories and workshops are often noisy and dusty.
Some materials used for finishing have a very strong smell.
You may wear protective clothing including a face mask and ear protectors.
You may get direct entry to a job, perhaps through a training scheme such as a Modern Apprenticeship.
You may do a full time college course in subjects such as furniture craftsmanship, furniture design and production or furniture restoration.
You could do an NC/NQ (SCQF Levels 4-6), HNC (SCQF Level 7) or HND (SCQF Level 8). Entry requirements for NC courses range from no formal qualifications to 2-4 subjects at National 4 or 5. For an HNC or HND you need 1-2 Highers to get in.
City of Glasgow College offer an HND in Furniture Craftsmanship.