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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Woodworking Machine Operators(9437)

Woodworking machine operators set up, program and operate one or more woodworking machines to fabricate or repair wooden parts for furniture, fixtures or other wood products. They are employed in furniture, fixture and other wood products manufacturing establishments.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read tags on pallets to determine product, wood species and number. (1)
  • Read lists, such as cutting lists which specify the materials to be cut and the type of cuts to be made. (1)
  • Fill in equipment logs when doing maintenance checks. (1)
  • Record information on tags for quality control purposes, such as the size of the lumber, the date, the wood species and the run number. (1)
  • Read labels on glue containers, giving mixing instructions and mentioning hazards. (2)
  • Read work orders for information on what is to be cut or trimmed. (2)
  • Refer to bar graphs showing safety information or daily production for each shift. (2)
  • Recognize angles in order to cut pieces of wood at the appropriate angle. (2)
  • Refer to sketches for dimensions when cutting customized wood pieces. (2)
  • Complete forms, such as purchase orders and production forms which record start and finish times, run numbers and shift information. (2)
  • Complete tally sheets and record output information in tables. (2)
  • Refer to blueprints for information on log cutting measurements. (3)
  • Read assembly drawings when repairing equipment, such as bandsaws. (3)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Read tags on pallets to determine product, wood species and number. (1)
  • Read lists, such as cutting lists which specify the materials to be cut and the type of cuts to be made. (1)
  • Fill in equipment logs when doing maintenance checks. (1)
  • Record information on tags for quality control purposes, such as the size of the lumber, the date, the wood species and the run number. (1)
  • Read labels on glue containers, giving mixing instructions and mentioning hazards. (2)
  • Read work orders for information on what is to be cut or trimmed. (2)
  • Refer to bar graphs showing safety information or daily production for each shift. (2)
  • Recognize angles in order to cut pieces of wood at the appropriate angle. (2)
  • Refer to sketches for dimensions when cutting customized wood pieces. (2)
  • Complete forms, such as purchase orders and production forms which record start and finish times, run numbers and shift information. (2)
  • Complete tally sheets and record output information in tables. (2)
  • Refer to blueprints for information on log cutting measurements. (3)
  • Read assembly drawings when repairing equipment, such as bandsaws. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Write entries in a log to record what happened during the shift. (1)
  • Write notes to themselves as reminders of tasks to be completed, such as noting pieces which need to be recut. (1)
  • Complete down-time reports to explain the cause of delays, such as a blade needing sharpening. (2)
  • Complete purchase orders for new equipment. (2)
  • May record minutes of safety meetings, using a standard format. (2)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Check measurements on panel boards to find the correct places for drilling holes. (1)
  • Take readings on finger joint machines to ensure that they meet specified standards. (1)
  • Calculate board feet for orders which do not meet standard specifications. (2)
  • Calculate the volume of quantities of glue. (2)
  • Set machine settings to small tolerances, such as 5/1000 of an inch. (3)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate lengths of board while operating the chop saw. (1)
  • Estimate how much glue will be needed for different runs. (2)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • May contact suppliers regarding products or equipment. (1)
  • Interact with foremen to clarify schedules and tasks. (1)
  • Talk to co-workers to discuss such subjects as the use of materials, machine problems and how to deal with defective wood. (2)
  • Communicate with helpers to give instructions, co-ordinate work and check on progress. (2)
  • May talk to customers to provide information about the progress of their order or to explain procedures. (2)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • May detect errors in grade in the lumber. They remove the pieces before they get into the system, thus avoiding slow downs as the pieces go through the production line. (1)
  • May detect errors in shop drawings. They note the mathematical inconsistencies and bring them to the attention of supervisors. (2)
  • May experience problems with the operation of mechanical equipment, such as a chop saw. They lock out the machine to determine if there is a minor problem, such as blockage. If they cannot solve the problem, they call upon a millwright to assist. (2)
  • May find that the pile of waste wood is getting high, representing a production loss. They look through the pieces to determine which ones can be saved for other jobs. (2)
  • May find that a saw needs to be squared. They read manuals to locate the problem, shimmy the push plate, adjust the turn buckle and realign the bearing caster until the saw has been squared. (3)
Decision Making
  • Decide when to stop the machine to clean the work area. (1)
  • Decide whether boards meet specifications. (2)
  • Decide the best way to set up the machines and arrange materials. (2)
  • Decide when to change knives, based on how close to tolerance levels the equipment is operating. (2)
  • Decide whether to shut down a machine if they suspect a safety problem. (3)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

While the job tasks of woodworking machine operators are mainly assigned by supervisors, the operators determine how to complete the work on schedule. They plan when to reset machines and when to order machine parts. They co-ordinate the use of common equipment with co-workers. (2)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember details of special orders.
  • Remember what tasks have been assigned to different crew members.
  • Remember codes which apply to particular wood products and which appear in specifications.
  • Memorize the sequence of machine lockout procedures.
Finding Information
  • Check blueprints to find information on measurements. (1)
  • Contact supervisors, millwrights and quality control managers to obtain information which will be helpful in dealing with specific production problems. (2)
  • Refer to booklets and brochures for information about new equipment. (2)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • They may operate machines, such as chop saw or moulding machine, from a computerized console. (1)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Woodworking machine operators mainly work independently, co-ordinating their work as necessary with co-workers. They work with partners at times when moving logs or doing complex machine setups. A team approach is used when addressing quality concerns.

Continuous Learning

Woodworking machine operators learn on the job, through on-site training and through reading manuals. They take a variety of safety courses, such as courses on first aid and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS).

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