While both roles are in the construction trades and can include the manufacture/build of furniture, there are actually a number of differences in the role of a joiner and that of a carpenter.

It is very common for joiners and carpenters to work together on large scale projects, both taking different responsibilities for different elements. A good joiner will know the basics of carpentry and vice versa, and after a broad education in the manufacture of timber products, a student will then choose to specialise and become either a qualified joiner, carpenter, or in some cases both. But what exactly is the difference?

The simplest way of putting it would be that joiners ‘join’ wood in a workshop, and carpenters then construct the building elements on site. Joiners typically won’t use metal fasteners, screws or nails as these are used by the carpenters on site to fit the items on the project. Let’s give an example: if you wanted a brand new fitted furniture piece, you would enlist the help of a joiner to create the piece, and you would hire a carpenter to install it into your home.

What is the difference in the equipment that carpenters and joiners use?

The equipment they each use is a very defining feature of each of these professions. 

A joiner will do their work mainly from the workshop, using equipment that is large and heavy that cannot be transported to the site such as circular saws, sanding wheels and lathes. Carpenters however will use relatively light, portable tools that give them the flexibility to work wherever they are needed – they are often found on site assembling and constructing structures.

What is the difference between a carpenters job and a joiners job?

When considering who would be the best fit for the job you require, the making of the components i.e. windows, doors, stairs and trusses will require a joiner but the fitting of these components will require a carpenter. 

Common jobs for a joiner will include making:

  • Doors and window frames
  • Bookshelves
  • Fitted furniture 
  • Staircases
  • Tables

And common jobs for a carpenter will include fitting/installing:

  • Floors
  • Staircases
  • Roof timbers
  • Skirting boards
  • Cupboards/shelving


Going into a bit more depth, joiners will also have to learn the uses of different types of wood and choose the right material for the job, create design drawings, alongside sketches of the work needed and the specifications, and use a range of equipment to cut the wood for the project.


Carpenters will also have to use a range of hand and power tools, gain knowledge of different types of wood and their uses, and carry out jobs in dusty conditions, or working outdoors in all weather and at height.

In conclusion

Both professions are needed for the completion of almost any project, and in a sense, joinery and carpentry can be understood as separate specialities within the same industry or craft. In reality, there is some crossover between the two disciplines, with many of the fundamentals of the same woodworking techniques and skills being taught.

Knowing what job you need done will determine who’s services you will require, and it may just work out that you’ll need both! We hope this has helped you know who specialises in what, and who is best to call for your next job. 

If for your next project you’d like to find out about any of our bespoke joinery, acoustic panelling, or our specialist doorsets and screen installation, don’t hesitate to get in touch!