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If you’ve worked on UBC jobsites for a few years, or even a few months, you’ve seen innovation unfold before your eyes. In a trade that dates hundreds of years, change has been a constant since the UBC was founded. But the pace has never been faster than it is today, whether you are a general carpenter or you work in a specialty craft. Innovation is most evident in the tools you carry and the technologies you and your contractors rely on at the jobsite. Just a small sample of significant advances shows how UBC members have had to adapt and grow with rapid change through our history. Training in skills and safety has been at the heart of our ability to adapt.
No single tool symbolizes change for carpenters more than the Skilsaw. When the portable saw came onto the market after World War II, it’s promised impact on work speed was immediately clear—but many older carpenters reacted with alarm. As a Massachusetts carpenter who joined the UBC in 1946 noted, “One guy took the Skilsaw on the roof of the building and threw it off. ‘The saw’s too fast, I’m going to cut my hand,’ he said.” *
With Robotic Total Station and the latest construction calculators, carpenters who lay out projects have unprecedented speed and accuracy at their fingertips. It’s a far cry from the surveying instruments of old, let alone paper and pencil sketches.
In itself, drywall (or sheetrock) was a major game-changer for the construction of walls when it took hold in the mid-twentieth century. Panelmax has taken the technology to a new level. With Panelmax devices, carpenters can pre-assemble specialized drywall fabrications for delivery to the jobsite on demand.
Constantly improving welding materials and technology provide job opportunities in several industries, including carpenter crafts such as pile driving and diving.
Solar and wind energy projects, including the latest moves to offshore wind in North America, will be a major job source for UBC members in coming decades.
* From With Our Hands: The Story of Carpenters in Massachusetts (Pg. 146) by Mark Erlich.