Wood machinist

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Wood machinists cut and prepare timber for use in wood products.

Salary Range: £16,000 to £28,000

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How to become a wood machinist

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • applying directly
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College

You can take a college course that would teach you some of the skills needed. Relevant courses include:

  • Level 1 Certificate in Basic Construction Skills
  • Level 1 Diploma In Carpentry and Joinery
  • Level 2 Diploma in Wood Machining

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 or fewer GCSEs at grades 3 to 1 (D to G), or equivalent, for a level 1 course
  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course

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Apprenticeship

You could do a wood product manufacturing operative intermediate apprenticeship, or an advanced apprenticeship in wood machining.

You could also get into this career through an intermediate apprenticeship for furniture manufacturers, or a furniture CNC technician advanced apprenticeship, if you’re working in the furniture manufacturing industry.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship

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Work

You could start as a labourer in construction, or an assistant with a wood products or furniture manufacturing company. You could then specialise in machining work after doing on-the-job training.

Direct application

You could apply directly to work as a wood machinist. You’ll need experience of working with timber.

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Further information

You can get more details about how to become a wood machinist from Go Construct.

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What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • persistence and determination
  • the ability to work on your own
  • physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • the ability to work well with your hands
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your day-to-day duties may include:

  • planning jobs following detailed technical drawings
  • selecting the right type of wood for a particular product
  • working out the amount of timber needed
  • cutting and shaping timber, using tools like saws, planes and routers
  • cleaning workshop tools and servicing equipment
  • using computer numerically controlled (CNC) equipment
  • using computer aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) methods

Working environment

You could work in a workshop or at a sawmill.

Your working environment may be dusty, physically demanding and noisy.

You may need to wear safety clothing and use safety equipment.

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Career path and progression

With experience, you could progress to a supervisor role, or move into related work like bench joinery, shopfitting or kitchen and bathroom installation.