How to Build Your Own Furniture

In partnership with
Instructor George Vondriska, Woodworking Expert
Woodworkers Guild of America
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Course No. 4077
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What Will You Learn?

  • Learn how to make correctly sized mortise-and-tenon joints that stand up to frequent use.
  • Get helpful advice on choosing the right piece of natural or man-made wood for your furniture project.
  • Discover simple ways to design and build elegant cabriole legs for your tables and chairs.
  • Learn some professional techniques for building table tops that are perfectly flat and smooth.
  • Explore tips and tricks for working with (and applying) a range of finishing techniques to your projects.

Course Overview

There’s an undeniable satisfaction that comes from building something out of wood using your own hands—a satisfaction that’s magnified ten-fold when that project is something as necessary for daily life as a piece of furniture.

Whether it’s a simple bedside table or a dining room chair, furniture is something many of us take for granted. When we want a new piece of furniture, we take a trip to a store or order what we need online. In these cases, there’s only minimal assembly required.

But it’s an entirely different story when that piece of furniture is something you put together in your own workshop. The sense of fulfillment, of creating something useful from simple planks of oak or cherry or pine, is a testament to the art and craft of woodworking. It’s a way for you to put to use your knowledge of the tools, tips, tricks, and techniques in your woodworker’s arsenal to create something beautiful.

There are a host of other benefits to making your own furniture, including:

  • Saving money while also delivering a higher quality product.

 

  • It puts you in creative control of your piece, from design to finish.
  • You can tailor a particular piece to fit unusual space constraints.

 

In short, learning and practicing how to build your own furniture is an essential skill for any woodworker—or even for lifelong learners just curious about the work and skill that goes into creating the everyday objects around their house.

Join master woodworker George Vondriska of the WoodWorkers Guild of America for 10 in-depth lessons on how you can create simply constructed, yet elaborate, pieces of furniture that are all your own. How to Build Your Own Furniture is a highly accessible learning experience designed for woodworkers at almost every level of experience. Taking you step by step through several exciting furniture projects, Mr. Vondriska gives you the knowledge and confidence to work with a variety of materials and tools so you can create tables and chairs you can be proud of—but, more important, that are solidly crafted to withstand everyday use. So, get your safety glasses and hearing protection ready, power up the tools in your shop, and start making chips.

Develop Vital Woodworking Skills

Before you try your hands at creating furniture, there’s some critical knowledge and skills that all woodworkers have to keep in mind before they start. The first few lessons of How to Build Your Own Furniture are dedicated to ensuring you have everything you need to make your furniture projects run smoothly.

With his trademark ease and clarity, Mr. Vondriska walks you through the must-have furniture-making skills you need to master before tackling a piece of furniture. Filmed in his woodshop, these lessons will help you make sense of—and practice—how to:

  • Create accurate mortise-and-tenon joints,

 

  • Craft two- and four-sided tapered legs,
  • Compose tops that are smooth and solid, and

 

  • Work with mitered and non-mitered corners.

Mr. Vondriska also takes care to make you feel comfortable with some of the more practical aspects of woodworking, including an eye-opening lesson on wood itself. Covering both man-made and natural materials, Mr. Vondriska teaches you:

  • How to choose the right material for a piece of furniture,

 

  • How to measure wood to get the right fit for your project, and
  • How to make furniture that fits your particular budget constraints.

 

Learn How to Build Tables, Chairs, and More

As with Mr. Vondriska’s other popular woodworking courses, How to Build Your Own Furniture offers deep dives into individual projects that you can follow along with—either in the comfort of your home to generate ideas or right in your shop as you’re working with your hands and tools.

  • Sofa table: Learn how to cut and put together a sofa table built in a beautiful mission style using quarter-sawn oak. The trick here is to master your skills at building mortise-and-tenon joints, as there are 24 such joints holding this project together.

 

  • Dining chair: From off-set mortise-and-tenon joints to back slats, the dining chairs you’ll learn how to make are designed to be both economical and durable. Plus, Mr. Vondriska brings in a professional upholsterer to show you how to make your own slip covers.
  • Bedside table: No bedroom is complete without at least one bedside table. The version Mr. Vondriska shows you how to make in this course features a full-extension drawer, two shelves, and a shelf bracket. 

 

  • Handkerchief table: Build a gorgeous table with a drop leaf and a gate leg that swings open without the need for a mechanical hinge. While it may seem like a project for experts, you’ll be surprised at how accessible it can be for any woodworker.

 

Don’t Sacrifice Project Time for Practice Time

These lessons are packed with tips that will help you approach your next woodworking project with increased confidence, on everything from joinery and specially formed table legs to gluing and finishing techniques.

Woodworking, says Mr. Vondriska, is like any skill. If you don’t practice, your skills won’t get any better. You have to go into the shop and work on mastering these furniture skills so you’re comfortable with them, so they work well for you, and so you know which tool to use when—and where.

How to Build Your Own Furniture will prepare you to take furniture building into your own very capable hands. That way, when inspiration strikes, you won’t have to sacrifice project time for practice time.

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10 lectures
 |  Average 99 minutes each
  • 1
    All about Wood
    Before you start a woodworking project, whether it's a picture frame or a table, you need to know the medium you're working with. How do you know which wood to use and when? What's the difference between particle board and plywood? What does hard" and "soft" wood even mean? What's the difference between wood that's plain sawn versus wood that's quarter sawn? How does lumber go from a tree to the individual plank you use for the job? How do you calculate board feet to make sure you purchase the right amount of material for your project? In this lesson, you'll come away with answers to these and other questions about wood. By the end, you'll have the knowledge to make more informed and economically-sound shopping decisions-and better, more professional woodworking projects." x
  • 2
    Mastering Mortise-and-Tenon Joints
    Mortise-and-tenon joints are commonly used in everyday tables and chairs of all sizes, which means it's important for the structural integrity of your project that you make your mortise-and-tenon joints correctly. With help from Mr. Vondriska, you'll learn tips and tricks to get your joints to the right size using a variety of tools so you can adapt to what you have in your workshop. You'll learn what it takes to get a plunge router set up to accurately cut mortises and explore how to use a bench-top mortiser to cut square holes into a piece of hardwood. You'll also look at how to use drill presses and router tables to produce accurate tenons. With all the insights in this lecture, you'll be able to make accurately fitting joints that stand up to the test of time. x
  • 3
    Must-Have Furniture-Making Skills, Part 1
    If you're going to make furniture like chairs and tables, there's some core information that you'll need to have to ensure your projects come out strong and looking good. Here, you'll tackle the must-have furniture-making skills needed to work ably with your skill level and the tools you have in your workshop. In the first of two lessons on these critical skills, you'll dive into topics including joinery, mortise-and-tenon joints, and loose tenons. Sidestepping a core project, this lesson focuses instead on practicing these skills using pieces of wood you might have just lying around. By watching these skills in action, and practicing them, you'll find yourself more than able to tackle making your own furniture like a master woodworker. x
  • 4
    Must-Have Furniture-Making Skills, Part 2
    In this engaging lesson on must-have furniture-making skills, turn to topics like tapered legs (both two-sided and four-sided). Mr. Vondriska then moves on to skills involving mitered and non-mitered corners, and talks about right ways to compose a solid wood tabletop that's smooth and flat. And when it comes to furniture making, gluing is just as important as joinery. You'll explore how to glue pieces edge to edge so they stick, stay flat, and look great. With all the many skills you'll cover in this lesson, you'll be able to customize them to fit your particular experience level-as well as the woodworking tools you have around you. With just a little patience and practice, there's no excuse for not being able to make your own furniture. x
  • 5
    Build a Sofa Table
    Your project in this lesson: a mission-style sofa table made from quarter-sawn oak that's held together by 24 mortise-and-tenon joints. Mr. Vondriska shows you ways to tackle the process of making a sofa table, from choosing the right wood to applying the last coats of stain. Along the way, you'll learn tips like these: Yellow glue dries faster than white glue and is easier to sand. Cut slats from an edge of 6/4 wood to get a quarter-sawn appearance. When using a table saw, build your dado head to slightly exceed the length of your tenon. Drill oversized holes in your shelf support to allow for the wood's seasonal expansion and contraction. Remove your table's top and shelf before you apply finish. x
  • 6
    Chair-Making Essentials
    It's true that a lot of woodworkers, even seasoned ones, are challenged by making chairs. Because there are few pieces of furniture in a house that have to tolerate stress like a chair, it's essential that the joinery is the best it can possibly be. Here, examine the essentials of chair making, with a focus on offset mortise-and-tenon joints (as there are 24 such joints that go into the chair you'll learn how to make). Additional features you'll create include a handhold that makes it easy to move the chair around, and book-matched back slats made of walnut. Plus, you'll get more help from an expert upholsterer who shows you all sorts of accessible tips and tricks for making attractive, professional slip-seats for your chair. x
  • 7
    Beautiful Bedside Table
    In this lesson, your project is a beautiful bedside table made of white oak that includes distinct features that will test your woodworking skills, including a full-extension drawer, leg and rail construction with mortise-and-tenon joinery throughout, two shelves that provide a unique opportunity to work with the expansion and contraction of solid wood, and a shelf bracket that's dadoed into the table legs. Mr. Vondriska takes you step by step through the process of making this table, instilling in you the confidence and knowledge to tackle a second table entirely on your own-because, of course, you'll need another table for the other side of your bed. x
  • 8
    Handkerchief Table
    Also known as drop-leaf tables, handkerchief tables may look complex. But with the tips you'll learn in this lesson, you'll be able to successfully complete one of these tables in your own workshop. One of the tasks you'll focus on is the joinery required to create the table's signature drop-leaf: a rule joint made with a match set of router bits specifically for drop-leaf tables. Other details you'll learn to make include the gate leg that swings not on a mechanical hinge, but a hinge you'll create using a dado head on a table saw; tapered legs that give the table a more delicate look; mortise-and-tenon joints at both 90- and 45-degree angles; and more. Never built a drop-leaf table before? Mr. Vondriska walks you through all the geometry and cool woodworking techniques you need. x
  • 9
    Design and Shape Cabriole Legs
    Join guest instructor David Munkittrick for a helpful, accessible look at how to design and build a classic style of leg-known for its s-curve and rounded foot-that goes all the way back to ancient Egypt and China. Like most complex woodworking projects, there are many ways you can go about shaping a cabriole leg, but Mr. Munkittrick simplifies the process so you can find the way that works best for you. Using a basic two-dimensional template, you'll built a Queen Anne-style cabriole leg that's 2-3/4 inches thick and 24 inches long. And the best part: Aside from a cabinet-maker's rasp, you won't have to spend lots of money on special tools to make this iconic leg. With just a little practice, you'll be surprised at how easy it is to make a cabriole leg of your own. x
  • 10
    Finishing Essentials
    Nervous about finishing a woodworking project you've spent so much time and work on? No need to worry. In this lesson on the essentials of finishing projects, Mr. Vondriska teaches you what he's learned about finishing from his own mistakes. The goal: to give you the confidence level you need to finish your projects the right way-the first time. What finish should you use? What are the best tools for applying them? How do you avoid honey-like layers of finish that never want to dry? What are the benefits of lacquer, varnish, and urethane? What's the difference between natural bristles and synthetic bristles on particular types of finishing products (whether man-made or water-based)? Whether you're finishing a chair, a side table, or a picture frame, learn how to give your projects the great finale they deserve. x

Lecture Titles

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What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Video Download Includes:
  • Ability to download 10 video lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 10 lectures on 5 DVDs
  • 32-page printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • 32-page printed course guidebook
  • Supplies and Resources
  • Assembly Diagrams
  • Cut Lists

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Your professor

George Vondriska

About Your Professor

George Vondriska, Woodworking Expert
Woodworkers Guild of America
George Vondriska has been teaching woodworking since 1986. In addition to teaching classes at his own Vondriska Woodworks School, George has taught at woodworking shows and retail stores across the country, in Africa as part of the Peace Corps, and for organizations from Andersen Window to Northwest Airlines. He has even taught woodworking at the Pentagon. After getting his B.S. in Science Education at the University of...
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Reviews

How to Build Your Own Furniture is rated 3.0 out of 5 by 2.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from How to Build Your Own Furniture. This is a good course for both beginner and experienced woodworkers. I have been making furniture and other items for over forty years. I learned some things I did not know and different methods for achieving the same task. I was a bit disappointed that this series appears to be an accumulation of single subject products arrange to appear as a single comprehensive program. Thus, some information is repeated from session to session. I did find the session covering a mortising machine setup and use very useful. I have avoided buying one because of the high cost of a quality machine. After seeing how well these machines work and anticipating building a large number of cabinets this year, I am planning to purchase one soon.
Date published: 2019-01-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from How to build your own furniture Too much redundancy on joinery. Similar content on several lessons.
Date published: 2019-01-25
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