top of page

What Is Finish Carpentry?

When someone says "Finish Carpentry" what comes to mind? Baseboard, Doors, Jambs, Molding, maybe Stair Tread or Cabinetry? Knowing what you're looking for when asking for a bid is important in order to get a correct price for your budget. And understanding what you need to estimate is extremely important to correctly bid a project.

What Is Finish Carpentry?

Finish carpentry can be composed of three actions: measuring, cutting and attaching. The list of installations includes doors, trim, moldings, cabinets, stair bannisters, shelving and everything needed to finish the interior of a home. Finish carpentry might seem simple but it's highly visible, and you need a certain level of woodworking skill to produce tight joints and level installations.

Breaking It Down.

Finish carpentry differs from Millwork as it doesn't involve building cabinets or doors. Finish carpentry also doen't include installing floors, windows, appliances or countertops; those jobs typically are contracted to others. If cabinets are custom made, the producer typically installs them. Trim carpenters don't work outside, so exterior trim is done by others. Trim carpentry typically doesn't involve painting, but it may involve finishing doors or trim, which can be necessary depending on the project.

Tools Of The Trade.

Basic finishing often requires a miter saw. A power miter saw is best, but it can be done with a miter box. Handsaws include a short, fine-cutting backsaw for trimming moldings by hand. A Skill or Circular Saw comes in extremely handy. Other hand tools include chisels and a lightweight trim hammer with smooth face to prevent damage to trim. Include a variety of nailsets and a pair of diagonal pliers to remove bent nails. Contemporary trim carpenters use finish nailers for efficiency and the fact that air guns set the nail head, leaving only a small hole to fill. A compressor will be needed. If you're considering a career in finish carpentry, you must absolutely include a portable table saw. Other supplies include a utility knife, files, hand-sanding blocks, sandpaper, wood putty, clear finishes and stain.

Specialty Trade Skills.

Experienced finish carpenters use circular saws to cut panels and install cabinets that require scribing. Scribing utilizes a small tool that looks like a compass. It works by transferring uneven wall lines to cabinets, or when other wooden parts such as mantels or trim fit against rock or masonry. Once the item is scribed, it can be cut to fit with a saw. Another specialty skill involves a hand-held coping saw. Professional carpenters use a coping saw to cut angles on inside mitered corners, preventing gaps on molding or trim. Coping saws go hand-in-hand with sandpaper, files and chisels to fine-tune the cut before installation. There is no "One Week" course that can teach the skills necessary to master this craft. Only through Apprenticeship and experience can Finish Carpentry come out correctly.

Trim & Doors.

Trim carpenters typically begin the job by installing shelves where needed, followed by bi-fold and walk-through doors. If doors and trim are unfinished, it's sometimes necessary to finish them before installation, so some spray equipment is beneficial. Most walk-through door units are pre-hung, meaning they're already hung on jambs. Door hanging is a process of installing the unit in the opening, ensuring it's level and plumb, and screwing it to studs. Doors and windows typically require casing or trim with 45-degree miters at the corners. Trim carpenters prefer pin, brad or finish nailers to attach it, and putty crayon to fill the holes. If the job is painted, wood dough that hardens is best for filling holes.

Finish Carpenters are responsible for cleaning up their works areas, trash and debris caused by their work. Finish Carpenters are also responsible for inspecting all of their work to ensure that there are no putty smears, dents, scratches, nail holes or miscolored paint/stain.

Please continue to check back from time-to-time for more articles related to building/construction.

bottom of page