Furniture building is a very common practice within wood working. You can essentially DIY any furniture item in your home with wood. I will explain what you are going to need to get started from tools and materials for general furniture items to How-to guides for some of the most common DIY furniture.
- 11 Essential tools to build furniture
- Which tools should you get
- Specific materials to make a wooden table
- Specific materials to make a dresser
11 Essential tools to build furniture
Some of the basic tools that you are going to need for any furniture items that you are going to be are..
- Pocket hole set
- Chisel set
- Combination Square
- Tape measure
Below, I will explain each item in detail.
- You will need some form of way to cut the wood. You can use hand tools or power tools. I will explain more about saw types and which one may be best for you later in the article
- You will need a drill even if you plan to do only traditional forms of hand-tool joinery. The drill will be used to join the hardware to the wood and it can be used as a form of wood to wood joinery.
- Pocket hole set
- Pocket holes are a sturdy joinery method, and they are essential is you plan on joining two pieces of plywood together. They are also very useful for edge joining wood that will be used as a table or dresser top.
- Chisel set
- A chisel set is essential if you are going to use hand tools for joinery. It will be used to cut dados, mortise and tenon, and lap joints.
- A sander will be needed to create a smooth finish to your piece of furniture before staining. You can hand sand by using a sanding block, or you can purchase an electric sander.
- When purchasing sanders, I recommend that you buy a variable speed and random orbit sander to prevent from damaging fine furniture pieces.
- Combination square
- A combination square is essential for 90 degree angles. You will use this to check the angles of the wood before you cut it and while you are joining the wood together.
- Clamps will be used to clamp the wood together while the glue dries. Without clamps, you would may not be flushed, which could lead to measurement and durability issues.
- Since you are working with wood, you would not want to use a hammer to get tight pieces to fit, like a box joint. A mallet is a much better option to prevent damage to your furniture
- Tape measure
- Never forget the tape measure! You wont believe how many tape measures I have because I went somewhere and had to purchase a new one. You will not be able to do anything without one.
- You may want a nice, even, professional looking surface for your furniture. Wood isn’t always a consistent width and a planar will help even everything out.
- A planar is used to make the wood an even thickness. You can, however, get by without one.
- Never forget your protection. Always where protection glasses, a mask, and hearing protection when needed.
The type of tool for each item on this list will vary greatly based on the type of wood and joinery that you plan to use. I will go into detail for each item on the list to help you decide which tool is right for you.
However, before I move on, you should know that some furniture items will need additional tools than what is listed. At the end of the article, I will discuss specific materials and tools that are needed to build a wooden table and dresser.
Which tools should you get
Choosing the saw
A table saw is a good saw for most furniture projects. With a table saw, you can do cross and rip cuts, and cut miters, dados, and other forms of joinery with the help of jigs.
The circular saw is also a good universal saw. You can do almost any cut with a circular saw that you can do with a table saw. Its however harder to cut joinery with the help of jigs on a circular saw.
A downside to the table saw is that it is harder to cut very large furniture pieces, that can be cut with the circular saw. It is also not as accurate with miter cuts and the miter saw.
Very large furniture pieces will benefit from using a circular saw, and pieces that require joinery and precision will benefit from a table saw.
|Size of project||Precision|
|Table Saw||Smaller wood pieces|
– Like a dresser
|Joinery and precision cuts|
|Circular Saw||Larger wood pieces|
– Like a bed frame
|Exact precision is not needed|
If you still are having trouble choosing a saw, you should check out my article on how to choose a saw for beginners.
Choosing a drill
When making furniture, it is essential that you get a variable speed and torque drill. I made the mistake of using a single speed and torque drill for my first few projects. It was very difficult, because the default speed is usually too powerful for the wood that you are trying to drill through. It used to result in splitting wood and ruined projects.
Besides that, the average DIYer can get by with a traditional corded or cordless drill. If you are drilling into larger pieces of lumber then you would need a impact drill. Impact drills offer more torque but it is not necessary for most in-home furniture projects.
Specific materials to make a wooden table
A wooden table can have larger table tops and slightly more complex joinery methods in relation to other furniture items. You can also purchase metal hardware to provide more durability to the table. These are some of the materials and tools that you may need when making a wooden table
- Larger clamps
- Hand tools
If you choose to edge join wood to make the large table tops, then you will need the clamps to accommodate the size.
You can create jigs for many common joinery methods on the table saw, like the mortise and tenon, dado, and lap joint. However, to provide more durability to your table, you may want to use a wedged mortise and tenon joint or a 3 way joint. These joinery methods will require more of the necessary hand tools that I discuss in this article
Specific materials to make a dresser
Dressers require some form of drawer sliding mechanism to open and close the drawers. You can create your own mechanism or purchase drawer slides online or at your local hardware store. Moreover, it is common to use plywood or mdf board for your drawers interior. Plywood is sturdy enough to hold most items while being more light weight and easier to build in comparison to real wood.
- Drawer slides
- Larger clamps
While you can create your own drawer slides, I would recommend buying a good set from your local hardware store. You will be able to get a smooth glide and you can purchase one with additional features like the soft closing mechanism.
The difficulty in installing drawer slides, is that you have to have precise measurements. You can either do what I do and practice your math skills and use very precise measurements to get the drawers aligned perfectly. Or you can buy a drawer slide jig.
I do the math method because I do not make dressers often. If I made at least one dresser every 2 -3 months as a hobby, then I would buy the jig to make my life much easier.
While I never used a drawer slide jig, a common jig that I keep on get recommended is the Kreg Drawer Slide Jig Tool.
In this article, we learned what tools that you need to build furniture, how to pick furniture building tools, and specific tools that you need to make a dresser and a wooden table.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this article and I wish you luck on your woodworking journeys!
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