CAREER GUIDES

Here's how joiners and wood machinists are responsible for manufacturing and assembling the woodwork

Image: 123RF/Volodymyr Melnyk.

A joiner is a craftsman who makes or joins the wood, usually in a workshop working with wood machines and hand tools. A joiner designs, manufactures and assembles wooden components according to needs and specifications set out in the design.

They are involved in the final finishing of a building as the wooden components are usually the last items to be installed. They erect panels and picture rails, make built-in cupboards and install carved ornamental woodwork. Work proceeds according to sketches made by draughtsmen or architects.

A joiner may decide on the type of wood required and marks off, saws and joins the pieces together. As soon as the walls are high enough to support doors and window frames they are built into openings left for this purpose by the bricklayer. After the frames have been installed the carpenter fits the doors. The fitting of locks and bolts completes the work. 

They may also be required to lay wood and block flooring. They sometimes fit kitchen dressers to walls and do repairs to damaged woodwork in buildings.

Working conditions are normally not very dirty or noisy. They are frequently required to work on ladders or scaffolding, and in this respect as well in the handling of tools, they are required to adhere strictly to safety precautions. Overtime may sometimes be required.

Description of tasks:

  • Measuring materials
  • Cutting and shaping furniture and fittings
  • Assembling doors, doorframes, windows, staircases, and other structures
  • Constructing larger installations, such as shop interiors or film/TV sets
  • Working with other tradesman, such as carpenters and plasterers, to complete the project.

Personal requirements

  • At least 16 years old
  • Attention to detail
  • Good 3 dimensional spatial and form perception
  • Numerical ability
  • Good at working with your hands
  • Problem solving skills
  • Work accurately with regard to details, drawings and instructions
  • Methodical, neat and accurate
  • Good health and strength

How to enter

Schooling & school subjects

  • Grade 9 Certificate in order to study at TVET College
  • Most employers will look for some kind of specific qualification in woodwork, or practical experience.

What to study

TVET colleges offer theoretical training to prospective artisans via the new National Certificate Vocational (NCV). During this 3-year programme (levels 2 to 4), learners complete a school-leaving certificate (NCV) similar to the new National Senior Certificate (NSC) in schools.

They are also exposed to a practical workshop component. For more information about qualifications and skills programmes, contact your nearest TVET College. TVET Colleges are accredited and funded by a SETA (Sector Education and Training Authority) such as MerSETA or ChietaSETA. They also receive bursary funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for the NCV programme.

You may be fortunate enough to find an apprenticeship of a learnership which will enable you to get on the job training. 

  • An apprenticeship is a fixed contract between company and apprentice, ranging in duration from between 18 months and 4 years. At the end of the contract, the apprentice writes a trade test leading to professional certification.
  • A learnership is a structured learning programme ranging from about a year to 3 years. A learnership comprises theoretical and practical training. Practical training is conducted on site (on the premises of the organisation). This has the advantage that the learner gets experience whilst training. 

Employment

  • Private building contractors
  • Construction companies
  • Mining industry
  • Government departments
  • Self-employment, a skilled and entrepreneurial joiner and wood machinist can start up his own business

Getting started

  • Take up woodwork as a hobby
  • Try to obtain holiday work with a private contractor or construction company
  • Consult the Registrar of Manpower Training concerning learnership programmes that may be available in your area
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