All Replies on Woodworker vs Carpenter - Who is the winner?

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Woodworker vs Carpenter - Who is the winner?

by BertFlores58
posted 07-24-2010 10:59 AM

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58 replies

58 replies so far

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3069 days

#1 posted 07-24-2010 11:12 AM

By the way, I still remember I was once called a carpenter last 1979 (I was only 19) on board ship. Carpenter in a different way.. You do all the wooden part of the ship including varnishing, making crates or platforms and many others. What is peculiar is the splicing work. You need to splice rope and wireropes.

Nowadays, the old carpenter on ship is replaced by deck fitters. but the job is still the same. In construction of a building, there is always a carpenter and doing all the woodworks including built in cabinets. Still, I am puzzled because cabinet maker is a woodworker, carpenter can be a woodworker too???

-- Bert

View antmjr's profile


262 posts in 3331 days

#2 posted 07-24-2010 11:59 AM

In the Italian language there is the carpentiere (carpenter, from Latin carpentum = cart, carriage), the falegname (fare+legname = to work+wood, as for the English woodworker), and the ebanista (worker who uses ebony or similar precious woods, which maybe corresponds to the English cabinet-maker). While the carpentiere and the ebanista/cabinet-maker had and have definite qualifications, our falegname/woodworker dealt with many types of works, from very rough (milling boards) to more refined ones (furniture).
Now our woodworkers and our cabinet-makers are a dying species, so I guess this discussion is somewhat outdated (in Italy).

-- Antonio

View Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)'s profile

Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)

176 posts in 4098 days

#3 posted 07-24-2010 12:02 PM

From Webster Dictionary:

Carpenter – a worker who builds or repairs wooden structures or their structural parts

Woodworker – : the person who performs the act, process, or occupation of working wood into a useful or desired form

So, a carpenter is a woodworker. They are just specialized.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4153 days

#4 posted 07-24-2010 01:34 PM

Carpenters use those weird pencils that make a 1/4” wide line. Which amounts to heresy to any woodworker.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Dennis Fletcher's profile

Dennis Fletcher

467 posts in 3202 days

#5 posted 07-24-2010 02:20 PM

Well, let’s see.

A carpenter is someone who builds structures and works on those structures. I am a remodeling carpenter, a trim carpenter and a rough carpenter, i.e. I frame the structure, finish the structure and go into a house and redo the structure. In the area of carpentry, my skill sets are somewhat different from wood working, though, I use a lot of woodworking skills while i am doing my carpentry work.

I have, though, taken it a step further. You see, the person installing cabinets is a carpenter, usually a trim carpenter, but can really be any carpenter. The person who makes the cabinets, however, would be a woodworker, as he/she has worked the wood to build a specific project.

As we all know, a woodworker does not always build things in relation to a structure, i.e., cabinets, shelves, etc., but also builds projects for other uses, i.e., jewelry boxes, beds, tables, frames, sculpture, etc.

So, just because you are a carpenter, this does not always mean you are a woodworker, but, you generally have the skillset to become one and just because you are a woodworker, you are not, necessarily, a carpenter, but you probably have the needed skillset.

It is when you begin to combine the two skills that you can claim both, but, you must be careful, as, once you claim them both, much more is required of all of your work.

--, Making design and application one. †

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Dennis Fletcher

467 posts in 3202 days

#6 posted 07-24-2010 02:21 PM

Oh, and by the way, I use both the weird pencil and the normal pencil, but I also use a sharpie at times. :-)

--, Making design and application one. †

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3069 days

#7 posted 07-24-2010 02:31 PM

It just like who’s first chicken or egg. But the truth of the matter, I am revising a course for those carpenters who will board a luxury liner for repair work. Example.. repair of beds, built-in cabinets, tables and chairs and mostly teak wood. If you hire a woodworker, he may not be a carpenter. Ohhhhh, nevermind, they both know how to use a hammer and drive a chisel…

-- Bert

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3222 days

#8 posted 07-24-2010 02:34 PM

Most of the time when I was building a closet at my church I was a carpenter. That was when I was doing the framing and hanging the doors. I was a drywaller when I hung and mudded the sheet rock. I was a painter when I painted the drywall.

However, when I installed a couple of door stops with a sliding dovetail joint and when I built a frame for a shelving unit using mortise and tenon joinery, I was a woodworker.

I didn’t have to use a dovetail or M&T joinery but I wanted to add “my little touch”.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 3429 days

#9 posted 07-24-2010 03:06 PM

A carpenter is a person who most like to look down their nose at but he’s also the one that makes or breaks the most expensive purchase most people make in their lives. There are a lot more lousy carpenters who couldn’t find any other thing to do until beer-thirty than good carpenters. People tend to look for a carpenter that matches their own stereotype which is why so many houses built today won’t be standing in 20 years.

View gbvinc's profile


628 posts in 4094 days

#10 posted 07-24-2010 03:15 PM

The difference between a carpenter and a woodworker is about an 1/8 of an inch.

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3206 days

#11 posted 07-24-2010 03:44 PM

Every year, I go on a mission trip to help with construction of church building. The group that I go with does the rough carpentry or framing. While it is true that when cutting 2×4 studs to frame walls, it does not require the kind of precision required of building furniture, to build something of quality does require precision. Of the guys that I travel with, many are professional carpenters. I have learned to highly respect that they can combine speed and precision and in a very short period of time build a very nice structure. Equally important, they manage to teach a bunch of novice volunteers from every line of work you can imagine. Now on this website, I see many examples of the work of very skilled and gifted woodworkers. However, I would call myself a MOSAF (Maker of Sawdust and Firewood) that occasionally actually makes something worth keeping.

-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3820 days

#12 posted 07-24-2010 04:32 PM

TV networks like DIY and Home and Garden is the one that got this woodworker vs carpenter thing screw up, they call anybody a carpenter and they dont really be doing anything thats relate to carpentry. They is mostly a handyman. A Carpenter frame and trim houses, a Cabinetmaker builds cabinets, and furniture.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16276 posts in 4366 days

#13 posted 07-24-2010 04:52 PM

What’s the difference between a carpenter and a woodworker? About $5 per hour if either of them can find a job.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View john's profile


2376 posts in 4529 days

#14 posted 07-24-2010 04:59 PM

Being a woodworking artist ,That,s where the money is !! :-)

-- John in Belgrave (Website) ,

View a1Jim's profile (online now)


117236 posts in 3724 days

#15 posted 07-24-2010 05:00 PM

I’ve seen people doing framing called woodworkers and fine furniture makes called carpenters. I suppose it has to do with the knowledge base of the person that’s doing the naming of the worker

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View schloemoe's profile


709 posts in 3085 days

#16 posted 07-24-2010 05:09 PM

When you tell someone you are woodworker you are telling them you have joined the ranks of carpenters that have refined they’re skills into some what of an art form.Any one can nail 2 boards together but it takes a woodworker to make the joint look so good as to not be noticed. Not to take anything away from either side I don’t want to build houses and most carpenters don’t want to built chairs…...............................Schloemoe

-- schloemoe, Oregon , http://www.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4153 days

#17 posted 07-24-2010 05:27 PM

I’ve seen carpenters who could take a framing square and a skil saw and cut every single rafter for a complex roof with hips and valleys and have them stacked and ready to go before any walls are even up. I certainly can’t do that. A good carpenter is no less skilled than a woodworker. We’re simply talking skills in diferent areas.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View john's profile


2376 posts in 4529 days

#18 posted 07-24-2010 05:33 PM

Once you know framing everything seems to come easy after that !

-- John in Belgrave (Website) ,

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3207 days

#19 posted 07-24-2010 05:40 PM

I find it the same thing. Woodworking is a catelglory.
They all work with wood, but preform differently with wood.

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3133 days

#20 posted 07-24-2010 05:55 PM

I would be thrilled to have the skills required for carpentry. I try my hand at it occasionally and I’m not very good at it. I get the job done, but it takes forever and there’s a lot of scrap wood :)

I feel carpenters often get a bad rap because it “seems” basic. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer the persons putting the building together than I’m sitting in, know what they’re doing and are good at their job!

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View vicrider's profile


179 posts in 3046 days

#21 posted 07-24-2010 06:10 PM

Right on Miles! It’s all about skill set. Respect the work and you’ll learn to respect the worker. I’ve known framers who were masters at stairs, rafters, windows, and multi-story construction, some without a high school education. I’ve known doctor’s who couldn’t build a deck or a picture frame. We all have particular individual talents. It’s a happy man who can find, develop, and practice his innate abilities.


-- vicrider

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 3451 days

#22 posted 07-24-2010 06:20 PM

You can call me whatever you want except late for supper.

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3131 days

#23 posted 07-24-2010 06:30 PM

For myself the only difference is that a carpenter basically only needs simple joinery to perform the task at hand. where as the woodworker uses a wider variety of joints more often to perform the task at hand.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

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661 posts in 3348 days

#24 posted 07-24-2010 08:16 PM

As for myself, I believe that the terms are interchangeable. A timber framer uses many different types of joinery in order to create his master piece, while a framing carpenter has to use different types for his particular skill level, as does the trim carpenter, the cabinet maker and the furniture maker. They are all different skill levels and in their own right both carpentry and woodworking. To me it is like the medical profession, they are all doctors at some level, but each are armed with different skills that make their part of the profession unique.

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6173 posts in 3342 days

#25 posted 07-24-2010 08:53 PM

Greetings ya’ll,

My question is: What’s the difference between an alcholic and a drunk?

Nottotman: ” There’s no difference between a frog and a toad, except the spelling..” I can live with that!!!!!!

Wheather you are an alcholic, a woodworker, or a carpenter….. you still have the habit…....Enjoy…....

-- " It's a rat race out there, and the rats are winning....!!"

View Mark's profile


1807 posts in 3421 days

#26 posted 07-24-2010 09:49 PM

by far i would rather be considered a woodworker. i am a carpenter each day but my hobby is woodwork. there is much more craftsmanship, rewarding, and appreciation towards woodwork. As a carpenter its nothing but rush rush and heres your cheque.

-- M.K.

View Mark's profile


1807 posts in 3421 days

#27 posted 07-24-2010 10:00 PM

another easier way to tell the difference is a carpenter is nominal dimensions and a woodworker is actual dimensions.
when a carpenter says 2×4 they mean 1 1/2”x 3 1/2” and when a woodworker says 2×4 they mean 2”x4”

-- M.K.

View LONGHAIR's profile


94 posts in 3962 days

#28 posted 07-24-2010 11:08 PM

It seems to me that the term carpenter has become generic, a broad over-all name that covers the specialties. I think of carpenters as a “construction” trade.
Cabinet makers, Furniture makers, and instrument builders are in a different group. Yet they still make their living with these skills.

A “wood worker” is more of a hobbyist, not that he is any less skilled, he may even be more skilled. He may even sell the outcome of his work, but it’s not “employment”.

View Rick S.'s profile

Rick S.

10571 posts in 3180 days

#29 posted 07-27-2010 11:02 AM

Well??? I agree with some and disagree with others. Certainly Carpenters are known for framing Houses and somebody by a Different name might do the Cabinets, Casings, Crown, Baseboard etc.

EXCEPT!! When we had our Construction Company “I’ and my “Partner” could, and a lot of the time, did ALL of the above, including using a Framing Square to cut a Hip Roof Structure with 100% Accuracy! Designing, Replicating a Victorian Era Interior, in an Early 1900’s Home. Including Milling, Installing and Finishing ALL the Interior Woodwork.

BOTTOM LINE: To me they are One And The Same. Depending on Who What and Where you are doing whatever it is that YOU are doing. Personally? I prefer the term Carpenter. If someone calls me a “Woodworker”, I’m not gonna Run Home and tell My Mommy.

If you’re gonna go Ballistic because someone called you a Carpenter instead of a Woodworker …Well…She’s probably not home anyway.

I Certainly agree with Antonio…because I have no idea of most of what he said…LOL…

notottoman: I don’t know what kind of TOADS they have down there, but you’d NEVER see one sitting on a Dinner Plate up here! The give you WORTS man! Inside your Belly! They also might spread to your …UMMMM …Thingy.

Abbott is somewhat right but he FIBS now and then, He’s gonna be Late for his own Funeral! HA HA!

What’s a weird Pencil? Mine all say “Roundedge” and have a little gold H or HB or 2H on them, with a little Orange Rubber Thingy on the Top. Have no idea what that’s for. OH! You mean the Wooden Graphite Holders that you use to Lube Up some stuff.

Let’s put 2 other items to bed while we’re here…..

A- Chicken Or The Egg? (I can’t believe this has gone on so long) SIMPLE! When was the last time you saw an EGG lay a CHICKEN???

B- Difference between an Alcoholic and a Drunk? (Good Grief) A DRUNK doesn’t go to the MEETINGS!

gbvinc: 1/8 of an inch? I thought I recognised you in the MENS ROOM (Toidee) the other day!!

Dennis: You have a Sharpie to? Me also! What’s that got to do with Woodwork? OHHHH! You mean “Knotholes” or something? ....You Prevert…LOL….

Mark: When I tell you to bring me a 2×4, it better be a 2×4, regardless of the size! Yes! You should reach out and touch someone. NO NOT THERE!!!

HOLLY HOLLYHOCKS! This is the most fun I’ve had on a Posting in a long time! At Least 35 or 40 Minutes!

OH! I gotta go! Whirring Noise over the roof. It’s Monday. I forgot! They always drop down on Mondays for a glass of Ice Cold Mr. Clean With Ammonia and a Sprig of Steel Wool (0000). S*&^T! They’ve landed on the front lawn again! I told them a hundred times…BACK LAWN!!!!

Been a Blast Peoples. Now it’s OFF to Bed right after I do a little Reading, Update My Adobe, and a Nice Bowl of Soup.

Na Nu Na Nu: RicKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK ( Excuse me I Hicupped.)

Idiot Busy SmallAdobe Updater

Large Type Soup


-- (Rick S.)... "Don't Worry About What People Think! They Don't Do It Very Often Anyway!"

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 3073 days

#30 posted 07-27-2010 05:27 PM

I am a “paper-trained” Carpenter and there is a little more to the trade than framing or finishing.

Our scope of work covers concrete, electrical, estimating, finishing to roofing, plumbing, etc.

90% of the Site Managers in Residential and Commercial Construction are carpenters (at least in this area)..

As was already noted, some specialize more in finishing, furniture, etc.

P.S. There is no such thing as a Master Carpenter (it was a made-up term for TV).
If you think there is, where do you go to recieve that designation?

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View antmjr's profile


262 posts in 3331 days

#31 posted 07-27-2010 06:10 PM

what a mess…
Now the hammer. What is the hammer? Rick, don’t say anything!!! I guess I know: the hammer is the tool you and your partner used for mixing the tomato sauce. I have hit the mark, haven’t I??? ;-)))

-- Antonio

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 3087 days

#32 posted 07-27-2010 10:35 PM

A carpenter is a woodworker but a woodworker is not necessarily a carpenter! A carver, a turner, a cooper, a cabinetmaker, a carpenter, a boatbuilder, a sculptor are all woodworkers. Even a sawyer is a woodworker if you ask me! Is a forester a woodworker?

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View BertFlores58's profile


1698 posts in 3069 days

#33 posted 07-27-2010 11:34 PM

This is a never ending thread in the world that I think only use of word conflict. But this time, I realize to precisely say the real profession by expertise for example Sam Maloof – the chair maker, James Krenov – the Krenov plane maker or Krenov cabinet maker, Andy – Andy boxmaker, Martyn – the britboxmaker, Shiela – scroll designer and maker, etc. NOW it is more precise. BUT WE ARE A MEMBER OF LUMBERJOCK – I can add Lumberjock who I pressume also a woodworker.

-- Bert

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3628 days

#34 posted 07-28-2010 02:43 AM

I guess I always think of a carpenter as a person doing construction, which of course can include framing, doors, trim, and installation of prefab cabinets. To me a woodworking is someone that does very detailed and intricate work like cabinet/furniture making, boat building, craft work etc., much like most of us on this site.

Although IMO each has a separate set of skills, with some skills crossing between a carpenter and woodworking, there are folks out there, and plenty on this site, that are skilled in both.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View 8iowa's profile


1582 posts in 3908 days

#35 posted 07-28-2010 02:59 AM

I spent the past week building a 5’ x 5’ bathroom in the “Workshop in the Woods”. A true carpenter would laugh at how many hours I spent “in the bathroom”, he would have finished it in a day or less.

I did make all the trim, which involved woodworking skills. Most carpenters buy trim. I also got to do plumbing and electrical work

All in all, even though I’m not a great woodworking artist, I’m far better at woodworking than carpentry and construction.

PS: As a woodworker, I was agast at the quality and straightness of 2×4 studs at the “big box”. I even took a hand plane to a few of them – now, would a carpenter do that?

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 3291 days

#36 posted 07-28-2010 03:06 AM

What’s a carpenter? Just another nailbanger.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View Rick S.'s profile

Rick S.

10571 posts in 3180 days

#37 posted 07-28-2010 04:03 AM


Sorry but you told me not to say anything …....... HOWEVER ;-} No! We use the Drywall Compound Mixer on the end of a 3/8” Multi Speed Drill to mix the Tomato Sauce. We only use the Hammer to Squash the Tomatoes and Garlic Buds.

We only use a Spatula to Whack people on the Knuckles who forget to say Please when they ask to have the Spaghetti passed to them. Or killing flies that land on the Antipasto, it also blends them right in and you don’t even know they are there. YUMMY!!! ;-)))


-- (Rick S.)... "Don't Worry About What People Think! They Don't Do It Very Often Anyway!"

View antmjr's profile


262 posts in 3331 days

#38 posted 07-28-2010 04:34 AM

ok Rick, I raise the white flag…:-)
here it’s 4:30 am! I have to finish some drawings in time for 9 o’clock, damn, the bed was so sweet :-(

-- Antonio

View TJ65's profile


1381 posts in 3197 days

#39 posted 07-28-2010 11:44 AM

I could never be a carpenter but I call my sellf a woodworker .
I have seen many ‘Carpenters’ that couldn’t be a woodworker.
But in each, there are craftsmen.

-- Theresa,

View Greedo's profile


473 posts in 3108 days

#40 posted 07-28-2010 12:26 PM

i always thought carpenter had to do with the french word for roof structure “charpente” ,someone who makes large structures.
in europe it is devided a little differently between “joiners” and “cabinetmakers”.
joiners usually make windows, doors and stairs. outdoor structures and also simple staightforward furniture like kitchens or tables.
cabinetmaker doesn’t seem to have the same function as in the US, here they mostly do handwork, carving and complicated furniture like carved chairs desks etc… they can work months on the same piece.

View john's profile


2376 posts in 4529 days

#41 posted 07-28-2010 12:53 PM

Most people think all i build is birdhouses but i am still a carpenter , framer first :-))

-- John in Belgrave (Website) ,

View Omegacool's profile


83 posts in 3778 days

#42 posted 05-11-2012 06:04 AM

Well, I’m doing a research about it, here in Mexico, we are carpenters, not very common the construction of wooden houses. The furniture is built carpenters, wood structures under construction are done by the mason. The “ebanista” are craftsmen who are dedicated to wood carving. The word carpenter, carpintero is the same in English and Spanish, but the areas of work are different in Mexico and USA. The ebanista is the equivalent of woodcarver. complicated thing.
When complete my research, the public to see what you think.

Bueno, estoy haciendo una investigacion al respecto, aqui en Mexico, somos carpinteros, no es muy comun la construccion de casas de madera. Los muebles los construimos los carpinteros, las estructuras de madera en construccion las hace el albañil. Los ebanistas, son artesanos que se dedican a la talla de la madera. La palabra carpintero, es la misma en ingles y español, pero las areas de trabajo son distintas en Mexico y en USA. El ebanista es el equivalente al tallador de madera. Cosa complicada
Cuando esté completa mi investigacion, la publico a ver que les parece.

-- Sorry I do not speak English very well, nor write, but I learn

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3795 days

#43 posted 05-11-2012 06:13 AM

I didn’t read this thread at all, but just to add fuel to the fire:
(Insert carpenter joke here)

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3795 days

#44 posted 05-11-2012 06:15 AM

In terms of marketing and clients, carpenters are usually
though of as job-site workers whereas woodworkers may
work in shops with heavier and more specialized machinery
and to tighter tolerances.

In common parlance however many people refer to any
pro who cuts boards as a “carpenter” regardless of
the artisan’s specialization.

View vonhagen's profile


539 posts in 2512 days

#45 posted 05-11-2012 12:02 PM

basic carpentry is where you begin then as you get good you get into finish carpentry then cabinet making, millwork, fine furniture. look up the differant grades in the wic code book, it explains it very clear. a carperters tollerance can be 1/8th to gaps big enough to back up a cement truck full of bondo and set up forms and pour lol a fine craftsman does not use putty and keeps his joints down to a 64th or less

-- no matter what size job big or small do a job right or don't do it at all.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4153 days

#46 posted 05-11-2012 12:22 PM

Carpenters think the factory edge on a sheet of plywood is the schiznit. They scratch their heads at us woodworkers who rip those edges off.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Sylvain's profile


727 posts in 2647 days

#47 posted 05-11-2012 01:46 PM

Look at the new Paul Sellers school :
This is what I have in mind when I see “carpentry”.

Woodworker is a “generic” word.

In French we have basically
menuisier (window, doors, simple furniture, built in, ...)
ébéniste (fine furniture)

and then specialised work like
charpentier de marine (naval carpenter?)
sculpteur sur bois (wood carver)
tourneur sur bois
luthier (violin maker)
There was a time, when coaches were buid in wood where a “carrossier” would have be a woodworker
Charron (wheel maker)

Each has its specialised skills.

-- Sylvain, Brussels, Belgium, Europe - The more I learn, the more there is to learn

View Woodknack's profile


12369 posts in 2527 days

#48 posted 05-12-2012 06:29 AM

Somebody bumped a two year old thread but what the heck…

Wikipedia equates carpenter with woodworker and classifies pretty much everything (cabinetmakers, luthiers, coopers, framers) as subclasses. Somewhat interesting as I always equated carpentry with buildings and trim specifically.

-- Rick M,

View vonhagen's profile


539 posts in 2512 days

#49 posted 05-12-2012 12:01 PM

well would you want a carpenter to build your furniture for your house or have him build your house?

-- no matter what size job big or small do a job right or don't do it at all.

View JayT's profile


5880 posts in 2358 days

#50 posted 05-12-2012 12:52 PM

I wouldn’t trust a Carpenter to build anything. I mean, they were pretty decent singers back in the 70’s, but . . . .

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

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