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Carpentry

Carpentry is a skilled trade in which the primary work performed is the use of wood to construct items as large as buildings and as small as desk drawers. [Note: in the UK, strictly speaking, the term is more correctly used to describe the skill involved only in 'First Fixing' of timber items and mainly covers areas such as constructing roofs, floors and timber framed buildings - i.e. those areas of construction that are normally unseen in the finished building. 'Second Fix' work - i.e. skirting boards, architraves, doors etc., is more correctly referred to as 'Joinery'.] Carpentry is also used to construct the formwork into which concrete is poured during the building of structures such as roads and highway overpasses. [Note: in the UK, the skill of making timber formwork for poured (in situ) concrete, is referred to as 'shuttering'.] While the primary material used is wood, the construction of walls with metal studs, and concrete formwork with reusable metal forms is a carpentry skill.

Professional status as a journeyman carpenter in the United States may be obtained in a number of ways. The most formal training is acquired in a four year apprenticeship program administered by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, in which journeyman status is obtained after successful completion of a 12 weeks of pre-appenticeship training, followed by 4 years of on-the-job field training working alongside journeyman carpenters.

There are two main divisions of training: Construction Carpentry and Cabinetmaking. During pre-apprenticeship trainees in each major division spend 30 hours a week for 12 weeks in classrooms and indoor workshops, learning mathematics, trade terminology, and skill with hand and power tools. Construction carpentry trainees also have a daily calisthentics period to prepare for the physical aspect of the work.

Upon completion of pre-apprenticship, trainees who successfully pass the graded curriculum (taught by highly experienced journeyman carpenters) are assigned to a local union, and to union carpentry crews at work on construction sites or in cabinet shops as First Year Apprentices. Over the next four years as they progress in status to 2nd Year, 3rd year, and 4th Year Apprentice, they periodically return to the training facility for one week every three months for more detailed training in specific aspects of the trade.

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