Cabinetmakers build and repair custom or production-type fixtures and furniture made of wood or wood substitutes.
Training in Cabinet making varies by region with different provinces offering different programs at various institutions. Below is a list of programs by province that offer cabinet making – please consult the various links below to find out more about each individual program or institution
Note CKCA does not offer advice or assistance in entrance requirements, or pre-program requirements at any academic institution in Canada.
To build typical wood units such as cabinets and custom made products, cabinetmakers:
- create detailed drawings and provide shop drawings
- make layouts and patterns
- set up and operate woodworking equipment
- cut, shape, mould and assemble components of wood and wood substitutes
- sand wooden surfaces
- apply veneer, stain, polish or plastic laminates to finished surfaces
- operate and program Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) equipment
Cabinetmakers produce custom-made products. They:
- discuss projects with customers and draw up detailed specifications
- estimate the amount and type of material needed and the cost
- select the wood
- cut, measure and produce pieces of a project
- assemble the product by gluing, clamping, dowelling, nailing and screwing pieces together
- scrape and sand the unit and apply a finish such as paint, stain, plastic laminate, varnish or lacquer
- repair or refinish wooden furniture and fixtures
- install cabinetry and millwork
In large cabinet shops furnished with hi-tech computer-controlled equipment, cabinetmakers may specialize only in one or two of the functions listed. Some cabinet shops may specialize in a select number of functions listed above.
Cabinetmakers work indoors, generally in a shop environment. They may be exposed to high noise levels, airborne sawdust, and chemicals from painting and stripping. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is required. There is some risk of injury involved in working with woodworking machinery.
Skills and Abilities
The work is most rewarding for those who enjoy creating things with their hands, developing specialized skills and working with a high degree of accuracy.
To be successful in their trade, cabinetmakers need:
- good eyesight to select woods and look for surface imperfections
- good eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity
- the strength, stamina, and ability to use proper lifting techniques to lift items weighing in excess of 25 kilograms
- the ability to visualize a finished product from drawings, blueprints or other specifications
Cabinetmakers are employed in custom shops or are self-employed. Employment prospects for cabinetmakers change with changing employment and advancement economic conditions.
Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $19 to $28 an hour plus benefits.
Many cabinetmakers stay in the trade until they retire. They may set up their own shops or advance to supervisory positions.
Cabinetmaking Programs at Ontario Colleges
What to Expect from a Career in Cabinetmaking
As an area of specialization in woodworking, cabinetmaking programs at Ontario colleges prepare students for careers making not only cabinets, but things like furniture, millwork and other woodwork. Students are able to jump right into their career at the end of these programs because of the demand for professionals with these specialized skills.
If you think you have the precision skills necessary to work in the woodworking industry as a cabinetmaker, here’s what you need to know.