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Joinery and carpentry is an extremely varied discipline. It is generally split in two main categories.
- Bench joiners – These people are usually in a workshop environment, where they build things like furniture, doors, windows, staircases, and anything else that can be manufactured from wood.
- Site joiners (often known as carpenters) – These are the people that fit the products on site. They are generally involved in all stages of the building process, from start to finish. This includes setting out, first fix jobs like framing, joists, and roof timbers. All the way through to the neat finishing woodwork, that is still visible when the job completes.
Fitting kitchens is one of the many jobs that can be carried out by a joiner. Due to this, most kitchen fitters are time served and qualified in carpentry and joinery.
There are many people that fit kitchens exclusively, meaning they do not work in other areas of joinery. These individuals specialise in fitting kitchens, and they will have more experience than someone who’s job is working in the broader trade.
The most common route into kitchen fitting, is someone earning their qualification in carpentry, whilst working as a site joiner. Following this, they may gravitate to kitchen fitting as a preferred area of expertise. In other cases, some people will work as kitchen fitters right from being an apprentice. Either way they will usually undertake the same college work and qualifications.
Can kitchen fitters do other joinery work?
This will largely depend on experience, but as we mentioned previously, it is quite common for an experienced joiner to move into kitchen fitting. This is often because they like the work, and it also tends to pay very well.
In this scenario, they probably have a good level of experience in many other aspects of joinery.
For someone that has always fitted kitchens exclusively, they will likely have less experience with other areas of joinery. This means that on some jobs, they may lack the experience and skill that a general joiner would have acquired.
The opposite would also be true, and a general joiner may not be quite as good at fitting kitchens, compared with someone that does this exclusively.
However, both are skilled craftsmen, and in any type of carpentry and joinery, creating a high-quality finish is paramount. A kitchen fitter may take a little longer with a general job, but the work would still be to a high standard, and vice versa.
A kitchen fitter is still doing many transferable skills that could easily be applied to other jobs. For example:
- Design and layout
- Precision and accuracy in measurement and cuts
- Working to level and plum
- Fixing to different surfaces
- Using a wide variety of power tools for cutting and fixing
- Maths, critical thinking, and problem solving.
Due to the above skills and attention to detail, a kitchen fitter could quite easily adapt and transfer to being a regular joiner. Even if they hadn’t worked as a general joiner in the past. They still have the relevant underlying skills; they will just need to apply them to different jobs.
Other jobs kitchen fitters can often do
Fitting a kitchen from start to finish involves more than just joinery. There are also other skills that are required to finish the job. These include:
- Plumbing (possibly gas)
Not all of the above will be required in every job. For example, if your cooking appliances are electric, then gas may not be an issue. Also, things like flooring, plastering and redecoration may not be required.
Even if they are, many kitchen fitters will work with other trades that can carry out these jobs. This is especially true for things like gas, plumbing and electrics. However, for small jobs like patching plaster and tiling, it will often make sense for a kitchen fitter to know how to do these.
Occasionally, kitchen fitters will have skills and necessary qualifications to deal with plumbing and electrics themselves.
Obviously, when it comes to gas and electric, the relevant qualifications are required. At the bare minimum, this work needs passing off by someone that is qualified to do so.
For gas, this would be a professional who is on the gas safe register, and for electrics you would need to be someone who is Part P qualified. Both of these are qualifications that enable the trades person to sign off work, to say it is installed correctly and safely.
So as we have discussed, kitchen fitters are joiners in most instances. It is quite rare for someone to be working as a kitchen fitter and not qualified in carpentry and joinery.
A kitchen fitter will often have a different overall skill set to a more general joiner. However, they both have very transferable skills, which means they can usually do each other’s work to a high standard. Although, experience and speed will usually be a factor when working outside of their usual field of expertise.
As a general rule, a good joiner can usually fit kitchens just as well as someone who fits kitchens exclusively. Their skills are very similar and both work to extremely high standards. The only difference between the two, is that someone who only fits kitchens may be slightly faster. This is mainly due to repetition and experience.