Do I need a Cabinet Maker, Joiner, Furniture Maker or Carpenter?

A question that often comes up is what the difference is between a cabinet maker and carpenter? Then there’s joiners and furniture makers too …. so, who does what?

Cabinet makers and all the other trades work with wood and all have undertaken highly skilled training in their respective areas.

What does a Cabinet makers do?

Cabinet makers focus on the finer details of what can be created with timber. Cabinet making involves detailed work and needs to be very precise so requires attention to detail.

A cabinet maker works on projects such as kitchens, bathroom vanities, bookcases, entertainment units, cabinets, and benches.

If you are looking at any of these projects for your home, whether it be a new home or a renovation, it is highly recommended that you use a cabinet maker.

Many cabinet makers also do shop fittings.

A cabinet maker will mainly work with plywood however, they also work with manufactured board such as melamine, veneer and a wide range of wood imitation products now available.

Cabinet makers use a tools such as a saw table, a mitre saw, panel saw, planer, jointer, drum sander, band saw and dust extraction system.

Quality cabinet makers will also have a large selection of hand tools including routers, cordless drills, laminate trimmers, jigsaws and finish staplers. Also, the most modern, up to date machinery including CNC edging machines for precision cutting to offer a variety of edging profiles.

Many cabinetmakers use the latest in computer design software, some even in 3-d, so clients can visualise what their final kitchen, bathroom or other project will look like.

Cabinet making machinery and equipment does not come cheap and keeping up with the latest technology is challenging.   To ensure clients are getting the best value and quality work, quite often ICM Geelong cabinet makers will take the opportunity to work in conjunction with another cabinet maker. For example, your cabinet maker may get another ICM Geelong member to cut the board for your project at their workshop because they have the most suitable equipment for your job.


Unlike cabinet makers, carpenters concentrate on large structural projects.

Still working with wood, projects include house frames, decking and pergolas.

Unlike a cabinetmaker or joiner where the project is constructed in a factory and later installed, a carpenter usually works on site.

Because they work on such large projects, carpenters often become builders.


The terms cabinet making and joinery are often used interchangeably. However, there is a difference.

The process called joinery is specailised and ‘joins’ wood without the use of nails.

Items such as bookcases, cabinets, doors, windows and stairs are undertaken by a joiner.

Projects are completed in the joinery workshop and installed once completed.

Most cabinetmakers are joiners.

Furniture Makers

Cabinet makers may choose to specialise in making furniture.

Custom made furniture gives you a unique piece for your home. Tables, chairs, and beds are commonly made by a furniture maker.

A work of art, furniture makers often specialise in making a particular style of furniture, for example, antique or country style or work with a particular type of timber.

So there you have it. That’s the difference between the trades. And from our experience we know people in the trade are very passionate and enjoy working in their chosen area.

Quite often you may need to use all of the trades to complete your project.

A good place to start is by contacting an Independent Cabinetmaker Geelong member.


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