An Extensive Guide to Carpentry in Ottawa

Guide to Carpentry in Ottawa

If you want to renovate your home, the chances are high you’ll need to find skilled carpentry in Ottawa.   Carpenters are involved in everything from building custom cabinets to doors and window frames.

If you’re seeking quality renovations, you’ll need to know a bit about the basics of carpentry.

This knowledge will help you find and hire the best contractor in your area (as well as the right specialty.)

It may not seem like there’s much to it. Yet, carpentry is an expansive field that’s as old as time. You’ll need to know about carpentry’s essential skills, specialties, and training. That’ll help narrow down the search when looking for a carpenter in Ottawa. If you don’t take it seriously and hire a cheap/unskilled carpenter – your results will look less than stellar. 

That’s why it’s worth learning more about carpentry to ensure your renovations come out looking fantastic. Finding a skilled carpenter will also help you save money in the long run since you won’t have to pay for expensive repairs to fix mistakes. 

Here’s an example of what we mean, does your project need a farmworker, framer, or cabinet maker? If you aren’t sure, you’ll need to do a little homework first to avoid wasting your money. Luckily, we’ve prepared this handy carpentry guide to fill you in on everything.

Nailing the Basics: What is Carpentry? 

Let’s begin with a plain English definition of carpentry. It’s the art of working with wood to construct buildings, frames, and other objects. Woodworking and joinery also fall under the umbrella of carpentry. Here’s a breakdown of their subtle differences:

  • Carpentry is a trade that strictly uses wood for construction. It primarily refers to the construction of buildings with timber.
  • Woodworking is the craft side of carpentry, such as constructing cabinets and furniture.
  • Joinery is constructing frames and panels by creating and installing fittings.

There are carpenters, woodworkers, and joiners to go along with these crafts. (That’s not to mention the different specialties within each, but more on that later.)

Let’s consider a few examples to make things easier to understand. In example #1, you need a professional to construct a custom nightstand for you. 

Would you need:

A.) A carpenter

B.) A woodworker

C.) A joiner

If you guessed B.), you’re correct. Woodworkers specialize in handcrafting furniture, cabinets, and other wooden objects. As such, if you want a custom nightstand, you need to call a talented woodworker. A joiner or a carpenter won’t have the necessary skills – unless they moonlight as a woodworker. 

In example #2, you need someone to construct an entire shed in your backyard. 

Would you need:

A.) A carpenter

B.) A woodworker

C.) A joiner

In this scenario, A.) is the correct choice. A carpenter will have the skills and wherewithal to construct the entire shed on-site. A woodworker lacks the know-how to build a building from scratch. Instead, they focus on creating objects and furniture. 

All right, in example #3, you need someone to build a new window frame for you. 

Would you need:

A.) A carpenter

B.) A woodworker

C.) A joiner

The answer is C.), as a joiner constructs frames, doors, and other joinings. They tend to work isolated in their shops and don’t work on location. 

By now – you should have a better understanding of the difference between the three crafts. While they’re all technically forms of carpentry – there are tiny differences – as these examples have shown.

Carpentry in Ottawa - Basement Framing in Orleans
Carpentry in Ottawa – Basement Framing in Orleans

The Different Types of Carpentry 

Within carpentry, there are various styles and specialties. In particular, there are two primary types of carpentry that we’ll focus on in this section. They are rough carpentry and finish carpentry. Here’s a detailed breakdown of both. 

Rough Carpentry 

If the carpentry work doesn’t need a brilliant finish, there’s no need to waste time and money applying one. For instance, if walls and paint hide the carpentry work – a rough job will suffice. This type of work is rough carpentry, and it’s more about doing quality work than making it look pretty. 

Most of the time, rough carpentry refers to structural work. Structural carpenters erect rafters, posts, and beams for a new building. With this type of work, efficiency and sturdiness are what matter most. There’s no need to make the rafters and beams aesthetically pleasing – as no one will see them. 

Rough carpenters find lots of work in roofing and framing new buildings. A structural carpenter puts together the skeleton of a building. They also have to pay close attention to safety codes and regulations. Remember, if you’re after a visually pleasing job, you don’t need a rough or structural carpenter. You will need one if you’re constructing a new building and need a solid foundation for it.

Finish Carpentry 

A finish carpenter is the polar opposite of a structural carpenter. Finish carpentry is all the work that will be visible once a building gets completed. That’s why finish carpenters put a lot more effort into making their work look excellent. 

Finish carpenters boast great attention to detail. They install trim, molding, decks, staircases, and so much more. 

If you want a carpenter to build an elegant staircase with a stunning finish – you need a finish carpenter. They will go to great efforts to make their work look outstanding. 

For constructing a new building, you’ll need rough carpenters and finish carpenters. The rough carpenters knock out the foundation, while the finish carpenters make it look pretty. You’ll want to hire both if you’re constructing a building from scratch.

Trim Carpentry 

Is your Ottawa home in need of a new fireplace mantle? If so, you’ll want to give a trim carpenter a call. They specialize in creating wood trims and moldings for homes. That includes fireplace mantles, ornamental trim, skirting boards, and so much more. Other types of carpenters may not be as familiar with installing trim, so it’s best to use a trim carpenter.

Green Carpentry 

Have you seen someone advertising ‘green’ carpentry services? That refers to carpenters that use eco-friendly methods and materials. If you’re someone that’s highly environmentally conscious, you’ll want a green carpenter. They will perform the same tasks as any other carpenter but in a sustainable way.

Scenic Carpentry 

Do you need someone savvy enough to create wooden sets for a high school play? Then it’s time to hit the yellow pages (or Google) for a scenic carpenter in Ottawa. These are carpenters that specialize in constructing and dismantling sets for stage and screen. 

As you can see, there are many types of carpentry. It’s essential to consider the kind of expertise you’ll need with your carpentry job. 

For example, do you need rough or finished work done? Do you want your carpenter to use sustainable materials? Are you thinking about installing a new skirt board? 

Once you know what type of work you need, you should look for a carpenter that specializes in it. That’s the most reliable way to ensure that the job gets done right the first time.

Carpentry 101: Basic Carpentry Skills to Know

Before any carpenter can tackle complicated work, they need to master the basics. If you don’t know basic carpentry skills yourself, you won’t be able to tell apart a master from a novice. That’s why it’s worth familiarizing yourself with the essentials. You never know; it may lead to you taking up carpentry as a side hobby. 

Safety First! 

By far, the most crucial aspect of carpentry is doing it safely. There are countless hazards to contend with when working with wood, and some aren’t entirely obvious. For example, keeping your work area tidy is the best way to avoid trip hazards. It may not seem like it, but there are many ways to trip and fall when doing carpentry. 

When hiring carpenters, pay attention to their reviews

Do they work carefully and safely? If not, it’s best to find carpenters who follow health and safety regulations

That’s best for the health of the carpenter and the integrity of your home. If a carpenter does a haphazard job, they may do severe damage to your house. 

Wearing proper safety gear is also a must for any type of carpentry work. You’ll want to wear goggles, gloves, steel boots, and a hard hat. Make sure that any carpenter you hire takes safety seriously and follows the best practices. 

Measure Twice, Cut Once

A tape measure is a carpenter’s best friend – but it can also be their worst enemy. Taking precise measurements is a core component of all types of carpentry. If a carpenter takes off measurements – their work will suffer as a result. An ideal carpenter is one that double or triple checks each measurement. 

Being as accurate as possible with measurements leads to flawless work and saved money on materials. If you mess up a measurement and cut the material incorrectly, you’ve wasted money. That’s why accurate measurements are so crucial to carpentry.

Be the Jack of All Tools 

Carpentry work is very tool-intensive. Carpenters use everything from pen and paper to saws, power tools, and more. Beyond knowing how to use a tool, it’s also essential to know when to use them. Strive to hire carpenters that really know their way around their tools. 

Let the Saw Do the Cutting 

Lastly, an accurate measurement won’t mean anything if you can’t cut straight. An often-repeated phrase on job sites is ‘let the saw do the cutting.’ If you notice that your hands/arms are growing tired – you’re pushing too hard. That will increase the chances of wandering off course and making an uneven cut. Lay off the pressure, relax, and let the saw do the work for you.

Hiring a Carpenter in Ottawa

Since you know more about the trade of carpentry, now you’re better equipped to find a carpenter. There are a few qualifications to look out for when searching for carpenters. You’ll want to hire someone with the necessary education, training, and experience. Here are the top things to look for when searching for a local carpenter.

Adequate Training

You don’t need a college degree to become a carpenter. Instead, apprenticeships are how the trade passes from one generation to another. Apprenticeships happen in many places, including trade schools, shop classes, and on the job.

After the apprenticeship is complete, the carpenter is now a journeyman. However, to become an official journeyman, they’ll need to complete a test. It’s given by the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.

They’ll have to work as a journeyman for a period of years after passing the test. After roughly 10 – 15 years in the field, they earn the title of a master carpenter. That means they can tackle just about any carpentry job with a reasonable skill level. Master carpenters will charge more than journeyman carpenters. Yet, it’s crucial to remember that the title of master carpenter is an informal one.


You should never hire a contractor that doesn’t have a license. As stated above, even if the carpenter is a ‘master carpenter,’ that’s an informal title, so they still need a license. In some states, hiring a carpenter without a license is illegal.

A license means that the carpenter is up-to-date on industry standards and has liability insurance. Those are two things that you want from any carpenter – which is why a license is a must.


If a carpenter doesn’t have liability insurance – you’ll be on the hook for any damage they do to your home. That can spell disaster if you hire a carpenter that doesn’t have much experience. To save yourself from this headache, always ensure the carpenter has liability insurance.

That’s not the only form of insurance they should have, though. You’ll also want to make sure they have worker’s compensation insurance. That will save you from covering their medical bills if the carpenter has an accident on the job. Lastly, you’ll want the carpenter you hire to have a bond. That will protect you if they fail to meet the terms of your contract.

Summarizing Thoughts

We’ve covered a lot so far, so let’s recap. Carpentry is an extensive trade that houses many specialties and crafts. There are many types of carpentry, such as rough and finished carpentry. When looking for a carpenter, try to find one that has excellent reviews, fair prices, licensing, and insurance.

If you want to make things easy on yourself, you can use us at Renos Group. We’re home to licensed, skilled, and experienced carpenters that will do a fantastic job on your renovations. If you’re interested, feel free to reach out for a free in-home consultation or give us a call at (613)724-9427.