Knowing where to learn how to make furniture is the first step in a great hobby
It could be that you just can’t find that perfect bookshelf or cabinet anywhere. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to make something with your own two hands. Or it could be that you imagine a future as a furniture maker.
No matter what the reason, you want (or need) to make your own bed or table or chairs. But you don’t have the skills to turn your ideas into something beautiful and functional. No worries. Even if you missed out on shop class in school, or have no idea where to learn how to make furniture, you can master the techniques of construction and finishing.
There are lots of places to learn the basics. And almost as many choices for polishing your skills, too. (Yes, that was a pun. Bad, I know.) Here are some ideas for getting started on the road to fine craftsmanship.
Workshops at woodworking supply stores
I’m starting with this one because it’s one of my favorites. Woodworking specialty stores frequently offer free or low cost demos, seminars and classes on all aspects of woodcraft, including furniture making. And because it’s connected with the store, the tools and supplies you need are right there.
Adult Education Programs
Many school districts and community colleges offer adult education classes designed to enrich the skills of area residents — and woodworking is usually one of the choices. If you’re a beginner to woodcrafting, look for classes in basic power tool use, wood working skills and finishing (paint, varnish, etc.) More advanced hobby crafters might want to choose classes on design, advanced wood construction, veneers and inlays, or upholstery.
If there’s a college or university in your area, you might want to check their catalog for classes in woodworking, furniture design, fine wood crafting or other elements of furniture making. If finances are an issue, you might be able to take classes as an audit (instead of for credit) for a lesser fee. If you’re pursuing this new art later in life, some colleges offer lower cost or even free tuition for area senior citizens.
If there aren’t classes in your area, or if you’d prefer to learn at your own pace, look for videos that teach the various aspects of furniture construction and wood craft. There are thousands of how-to videos on YouTube. And many online bookstores, local craft shops and woodcrafting supply stores offer DVD classes for craftspeople at all levels.
It might sound like an old-fashioned idea, but when it comes to learning something like furniture craft, working with and learning from an expert is one of the very best ways to master new skills. If there are some woodcrafters you admire in your area, you might want to offer your services in cleanup, marketing or transporting completed pieces in exchange for lessons.
Or if they like the idea of sharing their skills with the next generation, you might be able to simply offer your time as an assistant while you work your way up from simple tasks to fine construction.
If you have a few weeks free and the means to travel, you might want to look into a woodcrafters retreat. These intensive programs allow beginners to see and try the basics, while more advanced wood furniture makers get hands-on training in the details that separate just homemade from elegantly handcrafted.
Your own garage or basement
Learning from others is great, but for many of us, just experimenting with different kinds of wood, different power tools and hand tools, and different finishes is the best way to master the craft. Patience, a few good reference books and the right tools are the must-haves for this approach.
When you start looking for where to learn how to make furniture, you’ll probably be amazed at the number opportunities that arise. Keep your mind open, listen to the pros and do some experimenting of your own. Before you know it, you’ll be stepping back to look at your very first finished piece!