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Wood machinist

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

Annual Salary

£16,000 to £28,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

41 to 43 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends; on shifts

Future employment

There will be 8.3% fewer Wood machinist jobs in 2026.

Day to day tasks

In this role you could:

  • plan jobs and follow detailed technical drawings
  • select the right type of wood for a particular product
  • work out the amount of timber needed
  • cut and shape timber, using tools like saws, planes and routers
  • clean workshop tools and service equipment
  • use computer numerically controlled (CNC) equipment
  • use computer aided design and manufacturing (CAD/CAM) methods

Working environment

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

You could work in a workshop or at a sawmill.

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

You can get into this job through:

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

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
For more information

You could do a wood product manufacturing operative intermediate apprenticeship or a carpentry and joinery intermediate apprenticeship.

If you want to work in the furniture industry you could do a furniture manufacturing intermediate apprenticeship.

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
For more information

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.

More information

Further information

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

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

Go Construct has information about working in wood machining in the construction industry.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

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
  • concentration skills
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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