The heart of our hiring process is the test below. It includes questions on tools, materials, framing, and finish work. We give it orally, so each question becomes a springboard for discussing a particular slice of the trade. The discussion lets us gauge qualities beyond the applicant’s technical knowledge. These include honesty and flexibility, both of which are crucial in the custom home market where we work.

Because most of the test questions have more than one “right” answer, we’re wary of anyone who begins too many answers with words like: “the only way to do it is…” Such a person might be technically competent, but may not be the sort of carpenter who interacts smoothly with architects, engineers, clients, and supervisors.

[For more on using the test as part of a coherent hiring process, return to the main article "A Hiring Test for Carpenters."]

Carpenter Quiz

(1) When hanging a door, what margins do you leave around it? Summer? Winter?

(2) How would you go about installing a two-piece baseboard in a room where the hardwood floor was already down? What kind of joints do you use at the inside corners?

(3) You are casing a door with mitered casings. The finish floor is an irregular quarry tile and is already down. Step by step, how would you case the door?

(4) What is the size of a framing square? What is the number 17 used for?

(5) What is a typical rise and run for a set of stairs? What are the code ratios?

(6) By code, what are the allowable rail heights on stairs and platforms in residential construction? In commercial construction?

(7) How would you check to see if a level was reading accurately?

(8) How do you sharpen your chisels?

(9) What do the following mean on a blueprint? NTS GFCI OC W10x26 TOW AFF (10) Can you identify several wood samples?

(11) You have to replace a flat pine panel in a stile and rail door. There are removable stops and the opening for the panel is 24 inches square. What size would you cut the replacement?

(12) As a piece of flatsawn wood dries out, how does it change shape?

(13) How do you cut crown molding on a chop saw?

(14) You are cross-cutting a piece of AC plywood with a circular saw and need one good face. Which side faces up? Which side faces up when you’re using a tablesaw?

(15) In a kitchen, what is the standard height of upper cabinets over countertops?

(16) What building or woodworking magazines do you know of? Which do you read?

(17) Identify three carbide-tip saw blades (ATB, chisel tooth, rip, triple chip). What is each used for?