Carpentry School or Woodworking Classes

What’s right for You? Carpentry School or Woodworking Classes

We get this question at the Florida School of Woodwork occasionally. People that are interested in changing careers or starting a small side business and from people that genuinely just don’t know the difference between carpentry and woodworking.

Here’s your answer!

Carpentry School

According to Miriam-Webster dictionary, Carpentry is the “art of shaping and assembling structural woodwork”. Building, construction and framing and the most common things listed on the skills taught for most carpentry schools, including this program at the Manatee Technical College in Florida.

Most carpenters work in the construction industry so the courses teach the skills you’ll need to get a job in the construction or building business:

  •        Hand and Power Tools
  •        Window installation
  •        Reading blue prints
  •        Roof Systems
  •        Applied Math
  •        Cabinet Making

Carpentry schools are almost completely dedicated to training you to work in construction and building.

Carpentry Schools and Woodworking Classes
Table Saws are used by Both Carpentry Schools and Woodworking Schools

Woodworking School

Woodworking schools are very different from carpentry schools even though they may seem similar because they both primarily work with wood.

The courses you take to learn carpentry are set up so you can get a job in building or construction. That’s why many community colleges, especially in Florida where home building is booming, teach carpentry.

Woodworking classes teach both art and function.  Think furniture making or art rather than home building.


Here are a few woodworking classes that might give you a better idea:

  • Joinery and Hand tool Skills 
  • Box Making Basics
  • Make Your own Beer Cup
  • Carving with a Classical Flair
  • Learn How to Finish Furniture

And of course Beginning Woodworking courses offered in the evening and weekends.

So you’re still working with wood like in a carpentry school, but with a very different focus.

Joinery Classes, Woodworking Classes and Carpentry Classes have a few things in common

Beginning woodworkers learn to use many of the same tools as carpenters, like table saws, band saws, planers, and routers and they do learn SOME of the same skills, but you’d never find classes like Designing Furniture or learning to use a lathe to make bowls and cups.

Where the Schools Meet

Learning Cabinet making is one place where you might find some overlap between woodworkers and carpenters. Usually the difference is a matter of approach or focus.

For example, a carpenter would be the right choice if you wanted to build a custom kitchen. 

Carpenters make beautiful custom cabinets with an eye towards how they’re being used and the space they’re in. Even a built in bookcase would be a good fit.

A woodworker MAY have a different approach. For example, the Florida School of Woodwork hosted a class on building an arts and crafts bookcase. While a woodworker certainly could build a custom kitchen, they’re more likely to create something from one of these courses:

  • ‘Make a Slab Coffee Table
  • Make a musical instrument
  • Design and Build an electric guitar
  • Bending, Curving and Shaping Wood

(you can find current class listings here)

So, what’s the right school for you?

If you have questions about the differences between the 2 schools and types of classes, just post them below!


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