9 Things Carpenters Always Do Working On Their Homes

Updated: Nov. 20, 2023

Ever wonder what practices, principles, tools and materials pro carpenters can't live without? Discover nine of them so you can build like a pro!

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Always Know the Building Codes and Pull the Proper Permits

Whether working on a jobsite or their own homes, professional carpenters know the importance of abiding by building codes (international, national, state, and local) before performing an extensive home improvement project. Not only can violating building codes result in fines and severe penalties but there are also safety risks.

Mark Wood, contractor and CEO of National Pool Fences, says “we won’t begin any project without intimate knowledge of local requirements for both efficiency purposes and most importantly safety.” He takes the same approach for his home, where he will “always apply for the proper permits for my personal home projects to make sure I’m covered.”

Stephany Smith, from the carpentry department of Fantastic Services, agrees. “Reliable carpenters always check if all construction work in their own home is compliant with the building regulations,” she says.

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Always Use a Sufficiently Sharp Blade

Whether it’s a handheld razor blade or powered circular saw, carpenters know the importance of a sharp blade for aesthetics and safety. A dull blade won’t cut as cleanly or crisply as a sharp one, and power tools equipped with dull blades can tear off chunks of wood fibers instead of producing a clean cut — a phenomenon known as “blowout.”

Sharp blades are also essential for safety. Using a dull handheld cutting tool requires more manual force to use, which can cause the blade to slip off the material being cut and onto the operator. A dull circular saw blade can bind and “kickback” onto the operator and cause serious injury. Knowing this, a pro carpenter always ensures their blades are sharp and ready to go whether they’re at home or on the job.

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Always Buy Enough Fasteners

A professional carpenter always has various fasteners at their disposal for whatever their project requires.

Few things are more frustrating than interrupting a project for a trip to the hardware store because you’ve run out of the screws or nails you need. That’s why pro carpenters always buy large quantities and varieties of fasteners when preparing for any home improvement project.

They may also store and organize their various fasteners in a dedicated tote or fastener bag, which also allows easy transport between work and home.

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Always Have Filler On Hand

No matter how accurate and precise a professional carpenter is, mistakes still happen. “Putty is your buddy” is a common phrase among pros, and it means that a wood filler, spackling, or caulk should always be on hand to effectively hide unsightly blemishes caused by operator error. Any carpenter worth his salt has all these products readily available for personal and professional use — and uses them liberally.

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Always Ensure Accurate Measurements

Accuracy when measuring and marking, especially with a tape measure, is an essential prerequisite in carpentry. Taking faulty measurements can lead to improper cuts and wasted material, which carpenters seek to avoid at home as well as at work.

The old adage “measure twice, cut once” is considered sacrosanct among carpenters, who often see measuring twice to be the bare minimum to ensure accurate measurements. They also know that no ordinary tape measure will do. That’s why pros carry a pro-grade tape measure that can reliably take accurate measurements down to at least 1/16 of an inch.

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Always Go the Extra Mile

Carpenters spend a large part of their careers correcting the mistakes of others. They’ve seen the (often expensive) consequences of sloppy and insufficient carpentry work, like poorly constructed decks, stairs and railings that fail prematurely.

Consequently, pro carpenters avoid their work at home befalling a similar fate by going a little overboard in ensuring their projects are robust, with more fasteners, brackets, adhesives, etc. than may be necessary.

It’s all too common for homeowners to perform a job just “good enough” instead of to the highest quality standard. Pros rarely, if ever, make this mistake.

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Always Know Their Limits

As handy as carpenters are, they recognize they aren’t capable of everything. When they’ve exceeded the limits of their skills and knowledge, they aren’t afraid to reach out to another professional capable of handling the task. This can include anything outside of their skill set, like plumbing or electrical, but also for complicated carpentry operations. Doing so can avoid costly or unsafe mistakes, so they’re willing to swallow their pride and ask for help when necessary.

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Always Take Proper Safety Precautions

An experienced carpenter has probably seen a fair share of work-related accidents. About 15 percent of carpenters report an injury every year, so they likely know first-hand how dangerous their trade can be. Getting hurt at home also has potential financial consequences because a serious injury can result in missed work without compensation. To prevent these risks to their physical and financial health, carpenters use all the necessary safety gear to keep them protected.

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Always Choose the Nail Gun

The hammer is the iconic tool of the carpenter, and every pro carpenter is well versed in the multi-purpose functionality of this basic tool. However, the days of using a hammer to manually sink nails are long gone, with nail guns taking their place as the driver of choice.

Trond Nyland, founder and CEO of Cordless Drill Guide, says that nail guns are popular among pros simply because “a nail gun saves hours of toil and sweat!” Versatile nail guns can be used with everything from large framing to small finish nails, and these tools can be powered by an air compressor or cordless batteries.

Although they’re most commonly used on professional jobsites, carpenters often strive to save time and effort by using a nail gun instead of swinging a hammer when working on their home as well.