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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I apologize if this is an improper post for this site or forum.

I’m seeking advice on how to further my education in carpentry. I am 31 and have been working the last year and a half for a maintenance/ handyman company in Knoxville. Through this job I’ve had the opportunity to gain experience in the carpentry, electrical and plumbing trades. Whether it’s been small maintenance jobs or large projects requiring work in all trades, I’ve really enjoyed my experience. I spent a lot of time in college and in a myriad of other jobs before I figured out what I like to do - fixing and building stuff. While that’s a great relief, I feel woefully inexperienced and rather unsure of how to progress.

I want expertise and I’m willing to work for it. I appreciate that my job now exposes me to all sorts of trade work, but I would like to focus on one trade. Particularly, I feel pulled towards the field of carpentry. Renovation and restoration of old houses and buildings most captures my interest and enthusiasm, but new residential and commercial construction would fit me also.

So, what do you feel is the best approach? Are there any worthwhile trade schools I should look into? Are there internships or apprenticeships available? I’d be willing to move if I found the right opportunity. I haven’t had much luck with calling construction companies about laborer jobs, but I could continue to do that. Is a laborer job on a construction crew an efficient avenue for training?

Thank you for any guidance you can offer. I greatly appreciate and admire the work of skilled tradesman and I welcome your advice as well.

Jason


I have posted this on another site. I'm just looking for lots of info. Thanks!
 

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Hands on is the best approach. There are some good videos that would help if you on doing carpentry daily. Look for framing contractors to work for or commercial builders that do offices. Also there is a book called Roof framers bible. Buy it, worth its weight in gold. Good luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you for the advice, pabeyta. I had meant to ask for book suggestions, but forgot to add that to the post. I'll check out Roof Framer's Bible.

Jason
 

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The market is a bit tough at this very moment--However the best way to learn carpentry is by doing it.

A carpenters helper would be the job, if you can find one--Sometimes the best way is to show up on construction sites 15 minutes BEFORE start time.

You will find the lead carpenter organizing his day. You might get lucky.Ask for a job. If you don't catch them first thing in the morning ,you will be treated as an interruption.

I got lucky on my first carpenter job--I was Helper to the lead guy--When the foreman was interviewing me, I asked to see the blue prints. He watched me the whole time ,as I read them.


After he hired me ,he told me I was the first new hire that ever asked to see the prints.
How are you supposed to build something if you don't know what it looks like?

Good luck to you --you must ask for a job--at the right time.
 

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I'll second what Mike said. In my exp. Mon. and Fri. were the worst days.
Mon- what happened to the job after weekend weather,vandalism,home owner parties.
Fri.- this,this,this and this need to get done so I don't have to work tomorrow.
Good luck
 

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I think you will find that you posted your question on the RIGHT site! IMO there is positively nothing wrong with your post-so forget the apologies.

:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

Sounds like you are a lot like most of us! Welcome to CT.
 

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Develop a passion

Read all you can in all your spare time.
Do things at home and for others for practice
Be part of this forum
Get yourself equipped with really good tools (this forum is great for getting ratings on the best and the worst)

oh yeah....don't expect to get rich with money:no:

you will get rich in the feeling that you can do anything you set your mind to:thumbup:

Best of luck
 

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Like everyone else said go out to sights and ask if there looking for help.. But like what was said before me come before start times and not during the day.. You'll be and interuption.

And whenever someone is being a pain in the a$$ I'll never hire one
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you, guys. After reading forums on several different sites, I'm realizing that I'm going to have to be very proactive in finding the right job. That includes spending more of my spare time reading and studying the trade. I know that hands on experience is most important, but knowledge I glean from books has to be helpful too.
I'm quite willing to be a part of any construction project, but I must admit that home construction is particularly interesting to me now. This has to be more active come warmer months. Is that a fair assumption?
 

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Develop a passion is bang on da monay! Sorry, but im trying to be serious.

When i first started i couldn't read a measuring tape, i remember following around Ronny (Carpenter) around. We were bracing a foundation wall, i was following him around writing down the measurements he was yelling at me. I remember looking at his tape the whole time seeing how close the measurement was to quater's and halfs, and marking it down 1/4"Less or 1/4"Strong.

After that day, i googled how to read a tape measure.

When i was working with the a framing crew, i remember i couldn't hit that damn nail for the life of me. My 1st job, hand bombing 3 1/2' spikes into 4 ply LVL, my forearm and shoulder hurt for weeks. Half my swings were misses.

I went home that weekend, with a pail of nails, some scrap wood, and just pounded till i was bashing those spikes in with 3 hits. I still remember getting razzed for taking 6 swings to beat one of those nails in lol.


Now 3 years later, i got a work bench. My own hand/power tools, and almost every weekend im out in the shop, building cabinets, mocking up a set of stairs out of OSB, or just building stuff in general. I do to just keep my skills up, and try and get better.

Just last week, i built my first raised pannel cabinet door.

It takes time to get good at this, I'm constantily learning, and i don't think i'll ever stop.

-Bill
 

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New construction start ups will be slow for a while ---To hard to get a loan--lots of used houses on the market.

Building always picks up in the spring--A remodeler who does additions might be what you are looking for.

Take a drive to the wealthiest communities in your area--The work is still going strong for the wealthy.

Look for signs in front of houses that are under renovation.


You will have to be extra sharp to work on additions and renovations---Something different every day.

Fun work, if you enjoy challenges and can change gears quickly. Not so good if you can't.

You are going to have to be a hustler to get work,these days--There are jobs,but they are seldom advertised.

Read all you can about home construction--that helps--there are at least two right ways to do any thing--so be careful not to question the boss on his methods until you see how it works.

Good luck!!!---MIKE---
 

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I would also recommend in your down time learning fractions, how to divide numbers in half in your head and read up on the framing square..
 

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Be at work on time. Be honest. Work hard.
MOST OF ALL WORK SMART!!
If you don't, by the time you are 50 your body will be sore & broken. You will be an underpaid grunt for awhile but you will know the trade from the ground up. Good Luck if your good life gets better.
 

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You won't gain a lot of real carpentry skills working as a handyman. Find a job framing, get experience working in the extreme heat and working up high walking walls 25 feet up in the air. Learn to work with idiots who throw tantrums, yell, cuss, and throw stuff at ya. Then stick with it, pick up on some real skills, and learn to be fast. That should burn you in as a carpenter, well it should get you started at least.

It's easier to step into it when you're young, about 20. You might have a hard time adjusting to it starting when you're 30. But give it a shot and decide if carpentry is for you. Oh, if you can't find a job that will give you decent work experience then look into going to a trade school where they do hands on work.
 

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New construction framing is OK... It's great for learning the basics of "how things are put together"... When I was in college, I helped frame a few "high end" homes and learned more than I thought I was at the time. Looking back, it was a great experience.

The most valuable experience I had though was working along a couple of Master Carpenters doing High End Remodeling for a few years. Working with various materials in a wide range of applications... from framing to "creative framing" from trim to the most complex trim outs you can imagine. Remodeling will present you the opportunity to "think on your feet" so to speak. When things aren't plumb, square, level etc... and you have to find a way to make things work regardless and look fantastic.

Someone earlier suggested the roofing guide, and that is an excellent suggestion. In framimg, roofing and staircases are going to usually be the most difficult. (Not to mention trimming out some of the more upscale stairs).
Sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders so just go after it... Hands on experience is the best learning tool. Knowing how to frame and do complex trim work will set the foundation for a lot of things down the road like owning your own construction co. etc...
Good luck! :)
 

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Now that you have decided to take a vow of polverty

Many carpenters will claim that "you cant lern nuttin ina book, git owt dere an werk".

That's just ignorance. When I was a child in the sixties before I was even ten I couldn't get enough books about the craft I loved. My uncle had a very old book printed in 1954 called "your dream home, how to build it for less" Which was a book geared not to the handyman but the owner builder. This book went from foundation to finish showing simple rafter layout, Plank angled sub floor decking, How to make a jig for gang cutting studs BY HAND, plumbing including soil stack caulking and wiped joints on copper using cheesecloth and lead, Electrical including how to properly drill a floor joist at an angle to lessen weakening, I read that book cover to cover a dozen times before i was eleven years old. Unfortunately my parents didn't share my passion for building and ten years later would not allow me to transfer to trade school from junior high. So I did the next best thing. I Bought the book (or one of them) they were using

http://www.amazon.com/Carpentry-Bui...dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

Again before i was in ninth grade I memorized it cover to cover. But was too young to begin employment so I spent my leisure time assaulting the trees in the wood behind my parents house. Installing a fence for five dollars a section. Building a closet for our next door neighbor, She paid me by buying me my first circular saw, a metal housed Craftsman 7 1/4 inch saw. I began visiting the new public library which had a vast collection of hardcover trade books, Engineering News Record weekly's. And NatGeo porn LOL.

Came time for my first job and made the mistake of not following my passion but "listening to a friend" and got a job delivering furniture. That lasted till the middle of senior year and I made the mistake again. listening to yet another friend and working at an auto parts store. I hated it. I managed to get myself fired by not showing up for a tractor trailer delivery of "tungsten hydro catylists" Vinyl steering wheel covers, Pine tree air fresheners, Coffee cup holder/organizers, etc.. Which was probably the best thing which could have happened in my life.

My across the street neighbor was a job-site superintendent and became aware of my dilemma. I think my dad told him i got fired or became available. This neighbor was well aware of my assault on the woods behind our house and therefore knew of my passion. So he hired me and I started that summer raking up rocks on the grounds of an apartment complex construction site, and in a month was given a promotion and the lofty title of "pre-title foreman" Which was pretty much. "handyman" caulking and replacing broken thermo pane and fixing blown out entry jambs with Dutchmen my co-workers busted in the night before to steal appliances, which i was unaware of at the time.

Came time the project ended and almost followed my superintendent neighbor all the way out to Missouri to be employed on the jobsite of a sewage treatment plant project. At almost the last minute I backed out and decided to stay in New Jersey. I was still quite young and not quite ready to cut my local ties. I spent the time driving around jobsites looking for work to no avail. Eventually found jobs via classified postings. The first was for a fledgling handyman contractor in a nearby city. Who was probably not marking up enough. I quit that one. Answering another classified I landed a temporary job helping a carpenter frame, sheath, roof and wood soffit a house. He didn't have enough work for me after that after i helped him with a roof, a finished basement, and a basement fire rock ceiling. After that another classified provided long term work for a builder which lasted short of a decade. or so it seemed. When push came to shove and I hit the wage ceiling I went out on my own.

Do I have any regrets? Not for following my passion. Perhaps the convoluted route I took? Maybe. I would have loved to go to trade school. I believe I would have shined. Instead I was just counting the days bored to tears not paying attention in high school. I held that resentment for a long time. But got over it. I consider myself extremely lucky. I see so many people who hate their jobs, yet put up with a lifetime of misery. I cannot fathom that.

At 31 you are getting a late start. But if that is your true passion GO FOR IT!!! and hurry! the older you get the faster time flies. I can't put my finger on it but It seems to me that age is equivalent to gravitational acceleration. I wish I could impress that on my 21 year old son. who seems lost. This has been too long and rambling a post. But rather than hit the back button and discarding it I hope you can identify with some of my experiences.

Good luck in your journey and may you go in God's grace.
 
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