Also known as
Joiner, wood worker
What does a carpenter in the creative industries do?
Carpenters make things – mainly from wood. They create partition walls, construct roof frames, make furniture and install windows.
What they make varies depending on where they’re employed. They might install kitchen cabinets, the supporting frames for giant bridges or they might work in the creative industries.
If you enjoy reading plans, measuring, using power tools and using your imagination and ingenuity to create awesome spaces, you might want to be a carpenter in theatre, film, television or heritage. Working in the creative industries gives you the opportunity to combine your craft skills as a carpenter with the creativity of making movies or restoring cathedrals.
Watch and read
- Working In Theatre: the carpenters who set the scene
- Steve Wilkins: production carpenter
- The joiner’s workshop: John Birds at Chatsworth House
Which creative industries need carpenters?
Theatre: set designer
Carpenters in theatre are known as stagehands or set designers. They build the sets. Starting with drawings from a technical director, they make the platforms, columns, stairs and ramps on or off the stage. They might work with metal as well as wood.
For further information go to: Get into Theatre – set designer
Film: Changehand carpenter
Carpenters in film are sometimes known as changehand carpenters. They produce everything ranging from onscreen props like windows to replica spacecraft of medieval ships. They also do a great deal of off-screen building to create support structures for the crew. They set up the workshop, ensuring that it provides a safe working environment, and once the team is in place they supervise the workshop.
For further information go to: ScreenSkills – construction manager
Carpenters in heritage conserve magnificent buildings like castles or cathedrals. The work involves preserving timer and re-creating elements of historic structures like vaulted ceilings. It requires learning traditional carpentry skills.
For further information go to: National Heritage Training Group
What’s a carpenter in the creative industries good at?
- Reading diagrams: understand plans, follow instructions
- Ingenuity: imagine ways of creating a structure from a plan, find solutions to technical challenges
- Measuring: take measurements, do calculations
- Knowledge of materials: understand the properties of wood and other materials
- Using tools: be comfortable with power tools, hand saws, hammers, nails and knives
- Appreciating spaces: understand how scenes can tell a story, contribute idea to the story-telling, value architectural heritage
How do I become a carpenter in the creative industries?
- Get yourself qualified. Go to the National Careers Service: carpenter for full details of how to do that.
- Get to know your chosen creative industry. Look at the Creative Careers Programme list of partners to find websites about your industry. Get to know people by volunteering. Network online through Facebook groups and other social sites. Find out as much as you can about the industries that you enjoy and you will be in a strong position when you apply for jobs.
Where can being a carpenter in the creative industries take me?
Once you have learnt the trade and worked in your industry for several years, you can work your way up. You could be a construction manager or set designer for the film and TV industries and be work on the sets of blockbuster movies like Game of Thrones or Bohemian Rhapsody. Or you could be in charge of the designs for the sets of shows like War Horse or Hamilton.