A woodcarver carves beautiful images and designs into selected pieces of furniture. The types of products a woodcarver will design and carve include lyre-backed chairs, ball-and-claw feet for tables and chairs, ribbon-festooned aprons of tables, drawer fronts of chests, tea coasters and the like.

Although much of the work previously done by hand is now done by machine, some tasks still require the skill and ingenuity of the woodcarver.

The woodcarver marks with chalk those pieces of wood which must be cut away. The woodcarver places the article on a workbench or clamps it firmly in a bench vice and slowly cuts and chisels away the wood. Care needs to be taken not to cut away too much wood. The article is then finished by sand papering it carefully and staining or varnishing it.

Woodcarvers can specialise in using a particular type of wood for their work. They can also specialise in imitation antique furniture or the restoration of antique furniture.

Personal Requirements

  • at least 16 years old
  • willing to undergo a selection test battery
  • dexterous and skilled with your hands
  • artistic and enjoy working with wood
  • careful and patient
  • work accurately and neatly
  • enjoy working alone good eye-hand coordination
  • good eyesight
  • feeling for form and line
  • physically healthy and strong
  • able to handle heavy pieces of furniture
  • able to stand all day
  • perseverance to practice the required skills

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Grade 8 Certificate

Grade 9 Certificate to do furniture manufacture at a TVET college.

What to Study

Register with an employer providing suitable training. All costs of successful training are borne by the employer. Wage increases during the stages of learnership are dependent on progress through the system as well as entry level skills. Entry levels are more practical than academic.

The Furniture Industry Training Board (FITB) enables the industry to provide comprehensive training to all its employees:

Theoretical and practical training: provided by professional trainers at one of the centres of the FITB. Progress depends on the ability to “do” rather than to “know”.

Duration of course: 2 to 4 years depending on the progress of the candidate in the modular system
Final examination: a compulsory trade test at the Centre of Trade Testing at Olifantsfontein, as well as at accredited training centres

Advanced Training: The Furniture Production Unit of the FITB in Johannesburg offers the following courses:

  • Diploma in Furniture Production: 2 years’ full- time course for matriculants
  • Certificate in Furniture Production: 3 months’ course for employees already in the industry
Note: Changes in the training of artisans are subject to the official approval of the Registrar of Labour Training. A new system of learnership training will be introduced within the next few years. Each industry will make use of its own methods and time to implement the system.


  • woodworking shops such as large furniture manufacturers
  • workshops of smaller furniture dealers and restorers
  • factories that manufacture collector’s pieces or hand carved furniture
  • building contractors
  • carpentry shops
  • furniture manufacturers
  • cabinetmakers
  • self-employment, own small woodworking factory

Getting Started

  • try carving wooden items on your own and visit furniture factories
  • arrange to speak to woodcarvers about this type of career and ask permission to observe them at work
  • contact the Department of Labour about learnership possibilities in your area

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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