Cabinet Maker
NEJ Stevenson

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Richard D

0:00:03 My name is Richard D and my job title is a Cabinetmaker. A cabinetmaker makes furniture from drawings that architects give you or interior designers. It can be architectural features as well, doors and makes basically things out of wood really.

00:00:22 I have to travel about 30 miles to get here and I do that because of the interesting work that we have as well. It’s more bespoke, it’s not run-of-the-mill things that I was used to in my previous jobs. They deal more with furniture and nicer things, the nicer arts of woodwork.

00:00:39 My mum always used to say that I said I wanted to be a fixer man. That’s how…that’s what I used to say, I want to be a fixer man. I was really into hi-fi when I was at school and I wanted to work in a hi-fi shop but my academic skills weren’t brilliant, you know, so I think well what else can I do and my careers adviser says what else do you want to do and I says well I like woodwork. So she got me a job in woodwork and it was a company that made it more in wood machining, you know, so you machine the parts for the cabinetmaker to construct.

00:01:11 I was kind of bored at that place so I asked them if they’d send me to college, you know, just to get out, on a day release so I went to college and I got my wood machining qualifications and I wasn’t really fulfilled doing it as such because it wasn’t…I knew I could do more. See I knew I could make things.

00:01:28 It’s here that I’ve actually become a cabinetmaker and that’s like after like how many years of doing machining. I saw the job advertised and I thought well I’ll go for it and all they can say is that no, we don’t want you. So I went for it. I bought all the things I’ve made. Put it all out in the car park and Ian, who is a works major, he was looking at it all and says oh yeah, yeah, we’ll have you and so I got in.

00:01:54 I was nervous because I knew there were certain ways of doing things and I thought well I’m going to do something another way and probably like embarrass myself, you know. I’d never used a biscuit jointer so I had to say I don’t know how to use that and you’re thinking oh they’re going to think I’m an idiot ‘cos I don’t know how to use a biscuit jointer. But anyway I got over that.

00:02:13 I used to do craft fairs see. I had a notion that I’ve got to be self-employed I suppose. It was good for a while. I’d made quite a bit of money out of it, you know. I did the first one at the NEC. This lady came along, really posh and I like that chair, she’s talking to her friend and she says that would like nice in my lounge wouldn’t it and I’m thinking yeah, buy it, buy it. I think I’ll buy that chair. She wrote the deposit for it straight away and I delivered it and she gave me the cash for it and that was brilliant. That covered my costs and everything. But it wasn’t enough for me to…I didn’t think it was enough for me to go self-employed totally.

00:02:50 I go to a church like, you know, when I’m not at work and I’d always wanted to play the base. My misses, my wife, she bought me a guitar for my birthday and I think well I’ve got to try it now so I practiced, practiced, recorded all the songs and at home, I practiced all the songs and then I become one of the base players in the band and so I thought well I’ll make my own guitar and this is a guitar that I’d made.

00:03:14 This is an ebony fret board here. The two layers here overlaid in ash and you’ve got ebony stripes there. This neck here’s maple. Then you’ve got purple heart laminations going down it as well and then the core’s Brazilian mahogany and that all adds to the sound of the instrument as well.

00:03:33 In the future, I think I’d like to have a shop. I think I’d just make guitars and chairs and whatever people wanted and whatever my imagination, you know, would allow me to make.

00:03:47 The money’s not brilliant here but it’s alright, it’s alright. You can make a living, you know. It’s the enjoyment of what you do. You go home and you’re happy and feel like you’ve done something and it’s your life’s purpose sort of thing to do what you were made to do so that’s what I do.

00:04:03 I just trust in God. I pray about it and then just go for it and it works out and if it doesn’t, then no hardship, you know. There’s always something else.


Ricahrd Davis is a Cabinet Maker with NEJ Stephenson. Starting out with few qualifications as a wood machinist, Richard’s drive, enthusiasm and creativity has got him a job as a cabinet maker. He also designs and makes guitars and furniture as a hobby. He goes home happy and says “you feel like you’ve done something and it’s your life’s purpose”. His mum always said he should be a “fixer man”.

More information about Furniture makers and other craft woodworkers

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

85%  male 
15%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Furniture makers and other craft woodworkers make, repair and restore wooden furniture, decorative objects and other crafted pieces of woodwork.
There are no formal entry requirements, although entrants typically possess a variety of academic and vocational qualifications. Training is provided off- and on-the-job. A number of NVQs/SVQs and other vocational qualifications covering various aspects of furniture production and wood machining are available at various levels. Apprenticeships in Cabinet Making are available in some areas.
  • Examines drawings and specifications to determine job requirements and appropriate materials;
  • Selects, measures, cuts and shapes wood using saws, chisels, planes, powered hand tools and woodworking machines;
  • Assembles parts with crafted joints, nails, screws, dowels or adhesives and fits locks, catches, hinges, castors, drawers, shelves and other fittings;
  • Removes, replaces or repairs damaged parts of wooden furniture;
  • Measures floor area to be covered and lays wood blocks, parquet panels or hardwood strips;
  • Matches and marks out veneers ready for cutting and examines and repairs defects in veneer or plywood sheets.
Employment by region
Top 10 industries for this job
Furniture 9521
Specialised construction 7103
Construction 5320
Wood, etc 3785
Other manufacturing 2975
Retail trade 1727
Employment status

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