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How to start a carpentry business

With a huge variety of work, carpentry is one of the most interesting occupations in the entire construction industry. From making and installing window frames, to cutting and shaping floorboards, there’s a wide range of services a good carpenter can offer. As a result, starting a carpentry business can be very exciting and fulfilling, with plenty of opportunities for your venture to thrive.

If you’re considering starting your own carpentry business, then this guide is a must – covering everything you need, from developing a marketing strategy to obtaining the right qualifications.


What qualifications do I need to become a self-employed carpenter?

Proof that you’re qualified is crucial for attracting clients to your new carpentry business so completing the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) is essential. Without a CSCS card, you won’t be eligible to work on building sites, meaning you won’t be able to operate on larger projects. This can seriously limit your ability to gain business opportunities, which is why a CSCS card is vital for any self-employed carpenter.

 Also useful is membership of the Institute of Carpenters.  This will give you greater recognition in the industry as well as a raft other benefits including networking, discounts and public listings.


What tools do you need to start a carpentry business?

 To offer a professional carpentry service, you’ll need a variety of tools at your disposal including:

  • Hand tools — utility knife, chisel, pencil, claw hammer
  • Tool belt
  • Power drills
  • Tape measure
  • Carpentry squares
  • Saws
  • Levels

 With all this to carry, you’ll need your own transport and a valid driving licence too.


What skills do you need?

There are certain skills required for carpentry (attention to detail, physical strength, technical understanding and dexterity, plus building and construction knowledge), but you’ll also have to be adept at running your own business. This requires:

  • Numeracy and finance skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Organisation
  • High-quality customer service
  • Management and leadership skills
  • An ability to problem solve


Starting a business

The move to self-employment is a big step to take but it’s certainly worth the leap if you want to take your carpentry career to the next level. There are a few vital elements to consider first:

Business planning:

The first step in establishing your carpentry business is developing your business plan. As part of this, you should consider the goals of your business and set realistic financial targets to work towards over the next three to five years so you are financially prepared for the move away from being a salaried member of staff to a self-employed trader.

Based on your skills and expertise, you should also decide your niche, define your target audience and think about what will set you apart from the competition.

Marketing strategy:

This leads onto the marketing strategy, which will be crucial in attracting clients and boosting your reputation.

Once you’ve formulated a business plan, you’ll need to decide on a name and logo for your company, one that will catch the eye of potential customers. This will be part of your overall marketing strategy,

Then it’s all about growing your customer base. For many business owners, marketing can seem overwhelming at times, not least because the rapid growth of digital channels has presented us with so many ways to reach potential customers.

For more advice on marketing your business, read our dedicated article here – and don’t forget that signing up your business to Checkatrade can get your services seen by over a million potential customers every month. 13 million homeowners used our trades last year, with customers three times more likely to search with us than any other provider. Carpentry in particular is one of the most searched trade services at over 5000 searches per day. Now is a better time than ever to sign up to Checkatrade and attract all these potential customers. Click here to join today.

Financial management:

In addition to good marketing, being organised with your finances is key to running a successful carpentry business. Be sure to keep a close eye on your income, expenditure, and manage your cash flow effectively. Also consider the taxes that will apply and keep on top of filing deadlines. If there are parts of this you struggle with, consider hiring an accountant to help out.

Establishing a start-up can be expensive and you may not have the funding yourself. If that is the case, look into applying for a business loan. This will allow you to fully invest in all the equipment and supplies you need without cutting corners and risking performance.


For legal reasons, you’ll need to register the name of your business and decide if you want it to be recognised as a sole trader or limited company. Different taxes and regulations apply to each, so weigh up the pros and cons and decide which structure would best suit you.

For more useful tips on starting your business, check out our guide here.



 How much does it cost to start a carpentry business?

The set-up costs will depend on your circumstances. If you’re an experienced carpenter who already has most of the necessary equipment, then you could launch your business with just a few hundred pounds. However, those earlier on in their career may need to invest in more tools and supplies, which could cost thousands.


How long does it take to start a carpentry business?

If you take the traditional route of a college course or carpenter apprenticeship, this will take up to three years to complete. After you’re qualified, it will probably take a couple years of on-the-job experience to sharpen your skills and feel confident about starting a business.


Can I become a carpenter without an apprenticeship?

There are a couple of routes to becoming a carpenter without an apprenticeship. You have the option of taking paid intensive courses, which aim to provide you with all the required training in a matter of weeks. Alternatively, you could start your career as labourer and gain all relevant training on-the-job.


Can carpenters make good money?

Choosing to go self-employed as a carpenter can definitely help boost your earnings. If your business offers a unique service or attracts a large client base, you’ll be in demand enough to charge higher rates, helping you to earn considerably more than some of your competitors.


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