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Wood machinist

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Summary of occupation

Wood machinists use a range of equipment to cut, shape and mould wood into functional forms for a range of practical uses. They consult plans and drawings in order to establish the requirements of a job, select and fit blades, drillbits, cutter heads and guides to machinery, adjust the height or operating dimensions of the equipment, and operate it in order to shape and mould wood. They also grind, hone and sharpen the various machinery parts that they use, as well as cleaning and maintaining the machinery that they use. Wood machinists work all over the state, creating large wood structures for use in construction or the creation of furniture or other manufactured products.

ANZSCO description: Cuts, planes, turns, shapes and sands wood  stock to specifications.
Alternative names: Timber Machinist, Wood Tradesperson
Specialisations: Automatic Profile Sander Operator, Copy Lathe Operator, Edge Bander Operator, Jigmaker (Wood), Panel Saw Operator, Woodworking Machine Setter
Job prospects: Limited
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A wood machinist needs:

  • practical and manual skills
  • the ability to interpret instructions
  • the ability to undertake precise and exact work
  • problem-solving skills
  • an eye for detail
  • the ability to undertake strict safety requirements
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Working conditions

Wood machinists work in workshops, factories and timber processing plants. Conditions may be hot, noisy, dusty and potentially dangerous, although wood machining workspaces are usually fitted with extraction fans. Safety regulations must be followed at all times, and there are some pieces of equipment that must not be operated alone. Wood machinists usually work regular hours, although they may be required to work longer hours at times.

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Salary details

On average, wood machinists, can earn between $765 and $789 per week ($39 775 and $41 018 per year), depending on their level of experience and the type of organisation they work for.

​Many wood machinists are self-employed and/or work as part of a team as an individual sub-contractor. Earnings for sub-contractors or small business operators will depend on their level of skill and experience, the level of demand for their services, as well as the amount of work completed.

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Tools and technologies

Wood machinists use a variety of wood processing machinery including chisels, drilling machines, planers, grinders, moulders, routers, saws and wood-turning lathes. They may also use computer-aided design (CAD) software, as well as pens, chalk or crayons to mark timber. They use callipers and tape measures to measure wood, and are usually required to wear protective gear such as gloves, earmuffs, safety glasses and work boots.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a wood machinist, you usually have to complete an apprenticeship. The wood machinist apprenticeship takes 42 months to complete and is available as a school-based apprenticeship.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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