How to get on the ladder

Discussion in 'Carpenters' Talk' started by Chipwright, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. Chipwright

    Chipwright Member

    HI guys
    I just finished a city and guilds and now Im looking to start working. However no one seems to be looking for an improver. It seems I need a van, all the tools and 3 years experience before anyone will even look at an application. Any advice on where or how to begin?
    I dont want to lie and just start winging it I believe I need to be a "padawan" for a bit. Do you agree? or would you suggest I write a "creative" CV?
    Dont know if its even legal to ask here but if anyone in london needs a hard working monkey to do the dirty work let me know , I work for peanuts
  2. originalnelly

    originalnelly New Member

    Hello Danny. Some more info may be helpful for everyone. Do you drive? How old are you? What area of London are in you in and some contact details.

  3. Chipwright

    Chipwright Member

    Thanks for your reply.
    I wasnt sure if I would be allowed to fish for a job here so didnt put too much detail.
    I dont currently drive but will hopefully have a licanse in a months time. I'm 32 years old. Have been doing restaurant management till now but decided to folow my heart and work with my hands. Email me on
  4. Chipwright

    Chipwright Member

    Also I live in east dulwich SE22 but happy to rise early and travel
  5. Captain Leaky

    Captain Leaky New Member

    1. A van and own tools are absolutely essential.

    2. Most employers dislike "2nd career" tradesmen - you will find it hard to be accepted.

    3. Go self employed and build up a domestic customer base. You will gradually meet other trades and build up a reputation that way.
  6. Chipwright

    Chipwright Member

    Thanks captain
    Uhhhhh I might have to rephrase my question. How does one go about gaining the experience needed to start working for yourself? Buying a van and toolbox does not the carpenter make sir. Sure I can see now I might have to buy tools as it might be hard using mindpower to get the job done, so thanks for the advive.
    I wasnt originally asking for a job but I just need to know what worked for others when they first set out.
    Your advice to just go out there and start doing private jobs sounds a little cavalier to me I'd like to know what I'm talking about before I start tearing peoples houses up.the course is great but theres a difference between a qualification and experience.

    Any old school advice from real professionals please?
  7. G Brown

    G Brown New Member

    Look mate. The normal route is by doing an apprenticeship as a youngster.

    You chose to start a second career so just get on with it!

    Get your driving test out of the way, get a a van and tools, start advertising and start with work that you can do.

    There really is no other way.

    As cap'n says, most employers dislike second career changers.

    It's tough out there at the moment. Only YOUR determination will see you succeeding, don't expect a helping hand and you wont be disappointed.
  8. saddle joint

    saddle joint New Member

    At some point Danny you just have to go out there and do the job. Start small, gain confidence and get you face known. Gradually the work will appear.

    At the moment life is very tough and you should take that into account when you read some responses.

    Your biggest advantage is that you know the catering industry. That includes Sandwich shops right through to 500 seat restaurants. That's what I would personally be looking at. Find out the names of any restaurant/bar fitters and enquire about a job.

    You defo need a van and tools. Afraid that's an absolute must. Good luck.
  9. chippie239

    chippie239 New Member

    I had the same problem has you when I first started up.
    At 25years old, No joinery firm or building contractor in my area would take me on as a traniee, so just registered with a load of agencies. Once I completed my second year at college, I switched to joinery class for further 4 years. During this time I kept on with the agency work (traveled up down the country to keep busy), and then went 50/50 agency/domestic for another year.
    Didnt start up with a fancy van just a £800 estate car with some ad boards inside rear windows, with my new company name and details. I bought all my handtools from a carboot, (together with over 30 different planes) and started off with middle of the range powertools and worked my way up. Then bought an old Cabin, filled it with old machinery from an retired joiner and made into a nice little workshop. Bought some good joinery plans and then went 50/50 home bench joiner/domestic site carpenter.
    Dont wait around for an employer to take you in. You dont have to spend thousands on a van and tools to get started. Take your time and focus on getting the job right rather than speed and earning what you can from the job. Speed will come in with experience.
    Good Luck.
  10. timber ninja

    timber ninja Member

    you've just finished a city and guilds what?

    you seem like a nice enough guy, dont want to wing it etc,

    this is good! willing to work hard, from the bottom also good.

    but. . . a major thing to learn is that you have to respect other tradesmen. . . im not having a go but your reply to the Captain seemed a little . . .off.

    the man is a Legend, capital L. he knows that which he speaks. . . . 17,000 posts *

    you willing to work in north london?

    [Edited by: admin]
  11. G Brown

    G Brown New Member

    Nice guy + C& G = GOOD

    No Van. No License, No tools, No experience = BAD

    If you can't handle direct but truthful comments from people who do know you won't last five minutes on site.
  12. Captain Leaky

    Captain Leaky New Member

    I'm about as old-school as they come;)

    Hence there was no point beating about the bush spouting gentle but meaningless platitudes.

    If you want to get started then take the advice offered:

    Get a licence, get some wheels and tools, get advertising and gain experience.
  13. Chipwright

    Chipwright Member

    ok , appologies to the Captain I'm sorry if my reply was off. I didnt know u had 17k posts . i'm just saying I didnt feel I could tackle projects by myself. skirtings door linings and hanging doors , sure thing but im not experienced enough to quote and do bigger projects. hence i was asking advice on appreticips. u know carpenters mate like.
    I didnt mean to sound like I know it all quite the opposite.also been a little frustrating Ive applied for evey single carpentry job and registered with every agency i could find but havent had much luck.thanks for the tips from the other posters as well It takes time to reply and I appreciate the effort.
    so you all agree wether I feel I can work to a good finish or not just advertise and start doing jobs? what if i run into problems? does no one think I should work under a more experienced eye first?
    Working on my license any idea where I can get a list of all the basic tools I'd need?
    Thanks again.
    PS Im happy to do north london or anywhere I could travel to in under two hours
  14. Captain Leaky

    Captain Leaky New Member

    You absolutely MUST get a van and tools, B&Q is a as good as anywhere to buy your first tools. If you can do basic carpentry than thats where you start. You will find a LOT of competition and very low prices out there.
  15. timber ninja

    timber ninja Member


    as for the worry of encountering problems. if your just sticking to linings, doors, skirting etc how many problems are there!

    and sad to say, a lot of being an experienced carpenter is getting into a sticky situation and then extracting oneself without the stickiness sticking!

    here's a real trade secret, big jobs are really just lots of little jobs all together. it can feel daunting, but its not too bad.

    do you really not have any mates, acquaintances, bloke who once lent you a pen in screwfix, who are carpenters or builders?

    fear not if not, you can still make your way.

    i will keep you in mind for future projects, im working in watford at the moment.

    as for tools . . .why do you need a list? just imagine the jobs your going to do . . . then write your own list!

    dont worry too much about super quality tools, just get some tools! dont feel you need every power tool either, power tools are for productivity. why do i own so many drills? speed, why do i have 3 routers? speed.
    your starting out, speed is not your aim.

    in building you can have 2 of the big 3


    you want someone good? its gonna cost or they will be slow

    you want fast? you get the picture.

    no one. NO ONE is all 3.

    if they are, well more fool them.

    you have chosen the best trade, made hard choices and already put the time in learning . . . dont stop now.

    out of interest, whats your city and guilds?

    oh. . .who do you prefer: makita or dewalt?
  16. Chipwright

    Chipwright Member

    Thank you Ninja.
    city nd guilds is in level 1 basic construction skills carpentry and joinery.I,ve mostly worked with dewalt but heard that makita 18v combi drill is all I'll ever need.
  17. timber ninja

    timber ninja Member

    ahhh now i see why the apprehension!

    have you signed up to do your ICA? intermediate construction award? its the NVQ without the site experience.

    from what the apprentices have told me level 1 basic is along the lines of this is a saw. this is a hammer. etc.

    im not knocking you, just trying to get a feel for your level of competence.

    good man with the makita . . . if we do ever end up working together you will have to swear a non dewalt contract . . . :)
  18. HOTDOG ø

    HOTDOG ø Active Member

    It is vital that you get your licence and a van. No one will be interested in a Chippie with no wheels.
  19. chippie239

    chippie239 New Member

    I would at least wait until you have had more training. A level 1 course will not give you enough knowledge to be working on a customers house without risk of making some very costly mistakes. I would definately consider at the minimum of doing a basic site joinery course, site fitting isnt really covered in any depth at level 1.
    At least you will have an idea on the basic industrial standards required for 1st/2nd fix with a level 2 qualification.
  20. timber ninja

    timber ninja Member

    yes, i would tend to agree with chippie239 . . .

    when you said city and guilds most people will think you mean around nvq 2 standard or higher.

    what does the level 1 course cover?

    theory and practical?

    give us a list :)

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice