9 Terms You’ll Get Comfortable Using in Carpentry Training

carpentry training
Carpentry students at the PAT Institute, Ontario’s top school for construction trades training

Browsing a list of key industry terms and concepts is a great way to introduce yourself to a new field, test your existing knowledge, and feel out whether this career path is suited to your interests.

Considering becoming a carpenter, but want more information about what this trade entails, and what you will learn in training?  This round-up of professional terms should help shed some light on typical carpentry tasks, skills, and training fundamentals.

The list is by no means definitive! But it should be enough to whet your appetite if carpentry training is indeed your calling.

1. Layout

In the first stages of a project, carpenters work with blueprints (and supervisor instructions) to do the layout. This process involves measuring and marking materials, and chalking lines,  in accordance with local building codes. Mistakes made during layout can be costly, both in time and money, so careful planning and execution during this phase is crucial.

2. Framing

Framing typically takes place at the beginning of a building project, and involves the precise measuring, cutting, and assembling of what will become the basic framework for the rest of the structure. Duties may include building scaffolding, framing interior walls, and constructing forms into which concrete is poured.

Does this look familiar?

carpentry training
Framing is an important first stage of construction and is taught in carpentry training

Some carpenters specialize in framing (known as framing carpenters), and work on a wide range of projects, including

  • new constructions (residential, commercial, and industrial buildings)
  • remodels and additions
  • bridges
  • steel and concrete structures

3. HAP

HAP is an acronym that stands for “height above plate.”  This common carpentry term refers to the vertical distance from the top plate (the top, horizontal framing pieces of a wall) to the topmost  edge of a rafter.

4. Plumb

In carpentry, if you’re told to “plumb a wall” or “plumb a post”, you’re being instructed to ensure those elements are level on a vertical line (up and down). This means that the post, for example, should not be leaning in any direction. Think about the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. Now that’s a structure that is seriously out of plumb!

carpentry training
Someone forgot to plumb the posts on the Leaning Tower of Pisa!

5. Secondary Wood

Carpenters often use secondary wood to complete parts of a project that will remain unseen, such as the sides of drawers and other interior parts and panels. It’s typically cheaper and plainer than wood used for visible areas.

6. Drywall

Drywall is rectangular sections of gypsum plaster core bonded between layers of heavy paper.  It’s used in the interior construction of walls and ceilings, and may be referred to as gypsum board, plasterboard, wallboard, or sheetrock.

Pre-apprenticeship carpentry programs help students gain experience installing drywall systems.

7. Fire blocking

The goal of fire blocking is to help prevent the spread of fire throughout concealed areas of a building. For example, in a basement, it’s important for carpenters to install a fire block in the gap between the top plate of the framed wall and block wall of the house foundation. Materials used to create a fire block include packed insulation, fire foam, or sometimes sheet metal.

Basement Without Fire Blocking

carpentry training
Without fire blocking, fire can spread quickly and easily behind walls, where it is difficult to extinguish

Image courtesy of: I Finished My Basement

8. Skirting Boards

Also called baseboards, skirting boards are the decorative molding that covers the join where a wall meets the floor. These are fitted during finish carpentry, and in addition to looking nice, they help protect the wall from everyday wear and tear—like battering from a vacuum cleaner.

9. Melamine

Melamine is a go-to material for cabinet makers because it’s inexpensive, durable, stain-resistant, and requires no sanding. What’s it made of? Melamine is composed of a compressed wood particle core, covered with a resin and paper finish. These days, carpenters can easily find melamine in sheets of varying thickness and colour, including white, black, almond, and wood grain.

carpentry training
The durability and versatility of melamine makes it a popular and cost-effective option for carpenters

Image courtesy of: Popular Woodworking Magazine

Students in carpentry courses learn how to identify, compare, and select the most appropriate materials for building projects (such as cabinets or shelving), in order to satisfy both client aesthetic preferences and budget constraints.

Interested in becoming a carpenter and want more information about carpentry training in Cambridge?

Take a look at the Pre-apprenticeship Training (PAT) Institute’s Carpentry Training Program.

The program takes just 18 weeks to complete and includes instruction in safety, servicing and installation methods, building codes and blueprint reading.

Check out PAT’s carpentry program page for full details, and to chat live with an academic advisor. We’ll help you get started!




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