How to become a joiner

A female joiner marks a measurement on a batten of timber in a workshop.

As a vital part of the building industry, joinery is a highly skilled trade with plenty of work opportunities for a self-employed tradesperson. If you’re good at working with your hands and have an eye for detail, joinery could be a fulfilling career choice.

Keep reading to learn more about starting out in the joinery profession.

What is a joiner?

Often confused with carpentry, joinery is a well-established woodworking trade. Joiners do most of their tasks in a fully stocked workshop, where they’ll build wooden items to a specification. This could include cabinets, internal and external doors, window frames and even staircases. Although they construct a wide range of items, joiners don’t usually perform the installation. This falls under the role of a carpenter, but some joiners do take on certain carpenters’ tasks.

What tools do joiners use?

A joiner’s tools are crucial to their work, but if you’re just starting out, you might not know which tools are essential and which you’ll only need for more specialised jobs. It’s worth noting that, as joiners are based in a workshop, they can use larger, less portable tools such as bench clamps, mains-powered saws and suchlike.

Here is some of the basic tools you’ll need to get started as a joiner:

● Chisels and mallets
● Saws
● Lathes
● Planes
● Sandpaper or a sanding wheel
● Sharpening tools (for keeping your chisels and other tools in good condition) ● Measuring equipment - tape measure, square edges or ruler
● Safety equipment - protective glasses, dust masks, overalls, steel or composite toe cap boots

As a working joiner, it is important to keep your tools safe and in good working order. Maintaining your tools may seem like a pointless task, but it can help to ensure they last longer, saving you money in the long run. Additionally, you could take out tools and equipment insurance, which covers the cost of replacing your tools in the event that they are stolen, lost or damaged.

How much do joiners earn?

As a self-employed joiner, you’ll have the freedom of being able to set your own day rates. This means that you could earn as much as you like. However, in order to keep clients coming to you instead of your competitors, it might be best to price your services competitively. Taking into account the prices your competitors are charging can help prevent you from charging too much for your services, but it can also stop you from selling yourself short.

The average daily rate of a joiner in the UK is £195 a day, but this figure varies depending on where in the UK the joiner is working and whether they work for someone else’s company or are self-employed. Make sure your competition analysis is focused on the area you’ll be working in, as it’s likely you and your competitors will all be sourcing your clients from this area. In other words, it’s no use pricing your services the same as joiners in London if all the other joiners in your area are charging lower prices.

What qualifications do I need to be a joiner?

There are no specific qualifications you need to have in order to find work as a joiner. However, you may find it easier to attract clients if you have experience in woodworking and joinery. Not only will this give potential clients more confidence in your abilities, but it will also help to hone your skills. You could even use items made during studies or training as part of your portfolio, so clients can see not only your ideas, but also the final product.

Universities and colleges offer courses in woodworking and joinery that can also be a good way to start building connections in the joinery industry. This can be particularly helpful if you choose an institution that’s local to you, as it’s more likely you’ll cross paths with these people once you’ve started your joinery career.

On the other hand, a joinery apprenticeship can be a great way to learn on the job with successful joiners and joinery businesses. Some apprenticeships offer a job at the end, which can help you to continue building your skills with financial security until you’re ready to become self-employed.

How long does it take to become a joiner?

With multiple different paths available to prospective joiners, there is no one answer to how long it will take. If you intend to train first, you’ll need to take into account the duration of your course or apprenticeship. You might also want to factor in some time to work with an established joiner or joinery business before you venture into self-employment. It may be easier to attract clients if you’ve already built a reputation within the joinery trade.

Joinery isn’t a trade you can simply leap into - it requires hard work, dedication and perseverance. Becoming a self-employed joiner has even more responsibilities, including things such as setting up your business, deciding on insurance policies and marketing yourself to potential clients.

Here at Markel Direct, we offer a bespoke joiners’ insurance package. This allows you to combine a number of covers together into a single, specialised policy.

Business insurance from £5 a month