Why You Need to Learn How to Build Furniture (And the Tools You Need to Get Started)


There was a time when the thought of building my own furniture (or cabinets) terrified me. I believe that you must have a large workshop full of all kinds of fashions, special and expensive tools to build furniture.

But that was many years ago. From then on, I learned that anyone can make furniture, and it doesn’t require a huge workshop full of special tools. If you only have a few basic electrical tools, you can build furniture.

So why do you want to build your own furniture? Well, last week, I showed you a cabinet I made for our bathroom. That cabinet is quite large (about 43 inches wide, 88.5 inches tall, and 15.5 inches deep). I painted it white on the outside, and stained the inside a dark walnut color.

Of course, I should have just bought a cabinet for this room. How much would it cost for the same cabinet in the same size? Here are three I found online:

This first is Yael French Country China Cabinet from Kathy Kuo Home. It’s bigger than mine, measuring 91 inches long x 49 inches wide x 19 inches deep. The price for it is $2713 with free shipping.

Another similar cabinet is this 20th Century English Brass Bar Pull Glass Double Door Cabinet from Restoration Hardware. It measures 44¾ inches wide x 24 inches deep x 91 inches tall. This one costs $5010 for non-members or $3757 for members, plus about $400 for shipping.

And finally, Pottery Barn has it Livingston Glass Cabinet that’s the same, although the bottom section has solid doors, and it’s much shorter than mine. It measures 48.5 inches wide x 18 inches deep x 73.5 inches tall. The cost is $2399 plus shipping.

So what is the value of mine?

  • 1 sheet of plywood — $65
  • MDF — on hand (left over from previous projects)
  • Crown molding — on hand (left over from bathroom renovation)
  • Trim & square dowels — $80
  • Furniture legs — $68
  • Wood for shelves — $96
  • Stain — $13
  • General Finish clear topcoat – by hand
  • Glass doors – on hand (from the pantry)
  • Nails, wood glue, etc. – by hand
  • TOTAL: $322

True, if you have to buy everything and don’t have anything available (such as doors or a second piece of MDF or plywood), that costs more. But even so, you can still save an incredible amount of money than buying something similar ready-made (or ready-to-assemble).

Learning to make your own furniture is well worth it! And it’s not difficult at all. Once you know that almost every credenza, buffet, cabinet (both freestanding and built-in), bookshelf, bookcase, etc., all start with a simple box open on one side, and then arrange it with facings, trim, feet, legs, and other details, it becomes really simple.

Not only will you save yourself a fortune that can be put toward other things you want to sell (or things you can’t make yourself), but finishing with these pieces will give you a sense of accomplishment. and trust to do. progressively larger and more complex projects.

There are only a few things that a new DIYer needs to start building their own furniture.

First, you need an air compressor and a nail gun. I have the Porter Cable pancake air compressor with three nailers. I always use my 16-gauge and 18-gauge nail guns. I can’t imagine trying to do the projects I do without that.

Second, a miter saw is needed. I like mine Dewalt 12-inch compound miter sawbut you can do anything you need with a 10-inch saw, which usually costs less.

Third, a Kreg Pocket Hole Jig is a must-have tool for furniture building for those of us who don’t have large workshops full of fancy woodworking tools that professional furniture builders have.

The fourth and final tool you will need is a drill, and with this you will need a set of drill bits as well as screwdriver bits. I’m there this corded Ryobi drill, and I love it. I prefer corded devices because they are more powerful and reliable, but that’s just a personal preference. I have it too this cordless comboand I love it and I use it often.



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