Wood Machinist

Wood machinists produce furniture components for the making of furniture.

In large furniture factories, about sixteen different machines are used, ranging from the simplest band-saw to the most complex computer controlled spindle moulder. Wood machinists have to set up, adjust, operate and maintain them all.

Unprepared wood is sawn to the required shape and size. It is then transported to the planing machine. If the joining of wood framing or panels of wood is necessary, dowel pins are inserted. Details, according to design specifications, are then marked off on the wood. The next machine is then set and adjusted to obtain the required form. The wood is held firmly in place with set apparatus.

Some of these tasks require special skills, whilst others are completed automatically by the machine.

Personal Requirements

  • at least 16 years old
  • willing to undergo a selection test battery
  • neat and accurate worker
  • able to concentrate for relatively long periods
  • mechanical insight and skills
  • average physical strength
  • manual dexterity
  • good eyesight

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

Grade 9 Certificate

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 the progress through the system as well as entry level. 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.

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 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 is 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.


  • furniture manufacturers
  • cabinet-makers
  • kitchen manufacturers
  • building contractors
  • self-employment, with enough experience, initiative and capital, can open own small woodworking factory

Getting Started

  • try to obtain holiday or part-time work in a wood working shop
  • arrange to speak to wood machinists and ask 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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