Constructing wood frames or putting down wood floors isn’t the only type of carpentry work you can get into. Form carpenters, also known as rough carpenters, are important members of a construction team. Here’s what you need to know about this career.

What is Formwork Carpentry?

Before we get into what a formwork carpenter does, let’s break down exactly what formwork carpentry is. Before a building, bridge, or home can be built, it needs a strong concrete foundation. Forms or frames are constructed out of various materials so concrete can set into the foundations and frames outlined in building plans. Once the concrete is firm and set, the forms can either be removed or become part of the final structure. The types of forms that these carpenters work on include:

Timber Formwork: These forms are made out of timber or plywood. Timber forms are flexible and easy to put together.

Re-usable Plastic Formwork: These lightweight forms are made of interlocking pieces that can be taken apart and reused again.

Engineered Formwork: Pre-made modules of aluminum or steel create this type of formwork system that can also be used over and over again.

Permanent Formwork: Using insulated concrete forms, this type of formwork is constructed onsite and stays in place once the concrete dries.

What a Form Carpenter Does

In this line of carpentry, workers come to a construction site in the early stages of the project. There, they cut materials to the specified measurements on the blueprints and assemble the forms. They’ll use tools like drills and electric saws to put the pieces together and fasten them into place. Formwork carpenters spray the forms down with oil (so the concrete doesn’t stick) and insert steel rods for reinforcement. Then the concrete is poured in. Once it sets, formwork carpenters remove the forms, clean them and get them ready for the next project. Other things form carpenters may do on a job site include erecting scaffolding, constructing chutes for concrete, waterproofing materials, and maintaining tools.

The Training You Need to Get Started

So now that you know what form carpenters do, how can you get started in this career? By getting on-the-job training through entry-level jobs like a carpenter’s helper or an apprenticeship program offered by a trade school. As a matter of fact carpenters, in general, get started by enrolling in a 3 to a 4-year program where they get the hands-on training they need to advance. Once they complete the program, they can go after carpenter jobs like this one.

What to Expect in this Career

The work of a form carpenter requires strength and stamina because there is a lot of heavy lifting involved. You’ll also be working on your feet for long periods of time. In this job, you’ll need to be organized so you can keep track of the form carpentry process – from getting form materials to removing them once the concrete sets. Form carpenters are comfortable reading blueprints, handling power tools, and building codes. This career also requires great attention to detail, making sure the forms are level and square.


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