What Does a Frame Carpenter Do? (Plus Common Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 14 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are many types of carpenters and other professionals who work on construction projects. Frame carpenters specialise in building the frame of residential or commercial buildings. Learning about what frame carpenters do may help you decide if such a job is the right choice for you. In this article, we answer, 'What does a frame carpenter do?' and list skills they typically have.

What does a frame carpenter do?

Here is a list of common frame carpenter job duties, answering 'What does a frame carpenter do?':

  • Frame construction: This type of carpenter specialises in constructing the frame of buildings. They generally use materials such as wood that they cut, place and secure.

  • Sheathing: This type of carpenter builds exterior sheathing for buildings such as roof sheathing, plywood panelling or wallboard made from sheets.

  • Covered construction: Frame carpenters often design and supervise the construction process for buildings with interior partitions that are enclosed by an overhang using metal profiles.

  • Formwork: They may create the mould that supports the structure by building a temporary structure like scaffolding, concrete forms or temporary steel supports.

  • Demolition: They may work with a team to demolish structures, such as houses or industrial buildings.

  • Rehabilitation: These types of carpenters may work with a team to rehabilitate old buildings, often old historic landmarks.

  • Stair and rail installation: They may install staircases, stair landings and railings in structures.

  • Roofing and siding: They install various types of roofing materials like metal or asphalt shingles and siding such as wood shakes or rough lumber board siding for residential or commercial structures.

  • Trim work: They install wooden trim such as doors, windows and baseboards in buildings.

  • Elevator installation: These carpenters may install elevators in newer buildings.

  • Interior finishing: In commercial and residential structures, these carpenters may design the interior finish materials and create the design, such as polished concrete floors or decorative wall coverings like drywall or decorative tile.

  • Fire protection: They often install fire walls between floors to provide protection in the event of a fire and build wood trusses.

  • Cladding: This type of carpenter may finish exterior cladding on buildings by installing siding panels or metal sheeting over various types of building frameworks.

15 frame carpenter skills

Here is a list of 15 common skills that frame carpenters have, with a description of each:

1. Interpreting blueprints

Frame carpenters study blueprints, often using computers to view them, to determine how to build a structure. They also measure the distance between points on the blueprint or actual structure and use their skills to find the right beams or other materials that fit. For example, a frame carpenter might measure the distance between the floor beams and ceiling joists on a building design to determine which of the beams supports the stairs.

2. Managing workflow

Frame carpenters are often able to manage their time and keep schedules, get materials and workers organised, set up scaffolding, adhere to safety regulations and ensure that their job site is clean and orderly. They may also supervise a crew while they complete a project. For example, a frame carpenter may supervise a crew responsible for constructing a new house.

3. Operating machinery

These kinds of carpenters are often able to run machinery, such as drills or jigsaws, to cut and shape wood. The machine they use depends on what they are working on, such as installing studs or drywall. They often also know how to use measuring equipment and other tools that help them work efficiently, such as hammers, skill saws and paint sprayers.

4. Cutting beams and boards

They use heavy-duty saws and tool belts stocked with various types of saws such as hand saws to cut various types of building materials during construction. For example, they may use a saw to cut several boards at an exact length to make floorboards. This may require knowledge of various types of cutting techniques and safety measures during cutting procedures.

Related: 12 Careers in Construction (With Salary and Qualifications)

5. Building walls

They still use heavy-duty saws and tool belts stocked with various kinds of saws and power tools such as nail guns to cut various types of building materials such as lumber, plywood, metal studs or drywall during construction. They also use a variety of other tools including hammers, power drills, grinding maws and sanders to build framing for floors, walls and ceilings. They may also use tape measures, levels and square dance boards to ensure that each piece of wood is level, straight and plumb.

6. Measuring

They have highly developed measurements skills that enable them to easily measure distances between various points in a building or on a blueprint during construction. They also measure materials such as wood before cutting them with power tools or by hand. For example, they may measure off 8 centimetres by 8 centimetres of lumber to make a rough floorboard. Then, they use a skill saw to cut the board down to size.

7. Fastening

They use power drills, screwdrivers and heavy-duty finishing nails to fasten materials such as wood studs, metal studs and drywall into place. They also use sledgehammers to drive nails into drywall and plywood, while hammering the nails with a mallet to make sure they fully embed each nail in the material. For example, a frame carpenter may hammer nails into the surface of a floorboard in a residential construction project.

Related: What Is a Framing Carpenter and How Can You Become One?

8. Installing roofing

They are often able to cut, split, assemble and lay up shingles and other roofing materials such as metal or asphalt over a structure in an orderly manner on roofs. They also use power saws and other tools to fasten the materials into place using finishing nails to finish the roof. For example, they may use an electric screwdriver or power drill with finishing nails to fasten metal sheets into place over a wood frame.

9. Communication

Frame carpenters often work closely with all kinds of people from architects, surveyors, designers and other carpenters to ensure that they complete their work accurately and on time. They also often communicate measurements, materials and technical details such as the dimensions of wood beams or the types of nails they are going to use. They may also communicate safety protocols to other carpenters before they enter a construction site.

10. Problem-solving

Frame carpenters solve problems on the job by making adjustments or finding a new building material that works when the current one breaks down or becomes unavailable. For example, frame carpenters may also troubleshoot problems in which two pieces of wood don't fit together properly and make changes in order for them to fit correctly before installing them. They may also work with clients to solve problems within their construction designs.

11. Organisation

Frame carpenters are often able to organise, manage and prioritise their day's work and build schedules throughout the day. They also often organise their tools and materials, keep buildings clean and orderly and ensure that they have the necessary types of wood or materials on hand before a job begins. For example, they may organise their toolbox by type of tool so they can easily find what they need during construction. They may also have specific areas around a job site that are dedicated to specific tasks such as cutting lumber or nailing drywall into place.

Related: What Is a Carpenter? (Including a Guide To Help Start Your Career)

12. Physical strength

Frame carpenters are often able to physically complete tasks such as push, pull and carry heavy materials, including lumber, tools and other materials while they work. They often use their bodies to hold up weight-bearing structures such as floor joists or roof beams that weigh 10 or more kilograms. For example, a frame carpenter may use their body weight to hold a beam in place while they cut it with a power saw.

13. Fine motor skills and coordination

Frame carpenters are often able to perform small precise movements to saw different types of lumber, such as drywall or plywood. They also need strong fine motor skills to paint trim around windows and doors after they install them on a house's framing. For example, they may use a finishing nail gun to apply trim around windows and doors on a home. They also need good coordination of their fingers, hands and wrists to accurately fasten materials to each other.

Related: A Complete Guide to an Apprenticeship in Carpentry (With FAQs)

14. Attention to detail

Frame carpenters are often able to accurately measure, cut and assemble materials for projects. They also often pay attention to detail to ensure that all corners, edges and joints of wood structures are neat and tightly fit together. For example, they may measure a window or door frame with a measuring tape to make sure they have the proper dimensions before they install it.

15. Time management

Frame carpenters are often able to manage their time effectively during construction projects so they can complete their jobs within the allotted time frame. They may use tools such as power saws and nail guns in different sequences during construction on different days, so they are able to complete several tasks at the same time. For example, they may plan their daily schedule to finish securing the floorboards of a house while the glue is drying on a different part of the house.

Explore more articles