Furniture Making Career and Education Information

Sep 25, 2019

If you're good with your hands and enjoy creating functional and beautiful objects, you may consider earning a certificate in furniture making. You'll learn a variety of techniques and how to work with materials like wood, fabric, metal and plastic.

Essential Information

Furniture design and production can be basic, or it can be a true marriage of form and function. Evolving styles and materials have always changed the way that furniture is manufactured. Furniture makers must understand these trends so they can design and build functional products which also serve to beautify any space. For the best job prospects, individuals should complete a certificate program in furniture upholstery or furniture making.

Required Education A certificate program in furniture making or furniture upholstery
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)* -1% for all woodworkers
Median Annual Salary (May 2018)* $31,170 for all woodworkers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Furniture Making

Furniture makers work with wood, fabric and other materials. They take designs and construct furniture that reflects both function and fashion. Large furniture requires not only constructing a stable frame, but then adding springs, foam and fabric to create chairs, sofas and other upholstered products. A furniture maker who builds this type of furniture must be adept at measuring, cutting and fitting upholstery, as well as sewing and tacking the fabric to the frame.

There are many tools that furniture makers must use in order to do their job. For example, wooden projects may require the use of large machines such as a lathe, belt sander or band saw to begin the process. Smaller tools such as chisels and rasps are used to fine tune the finished design. Finally, furniture makers who work in wood should be well versed in staining and finishing the surface, in order to both protect and beautify the wood.

Materials such as plastic and metal are also used in furniture making. Professionals who work with metals need to be adept at using tools such as a spot welder and using different finishes to protect the product. Plastic furniture is made by using metal molds and either injecting liquid into a mold or bending semi-hard plastic around a mold.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for all woodworkers are expected to decrease from 2018-2028. The annual mean wage for woodworkers was $34,530 as of May 2018 and for furniture finishers the annual mean wage was $33,850.

Education Information for Furniture Makers

Many trade schools and colleges offer certificate programs in furniture making or furniture upholstery. Both programs stress safety issues such as the correct usage and maintenance of the many stationary power and hand tools used in each industry. Wood furniture making certificate programs include topics in making and using dovetail joints, installing hardware, cutting ornamentation pieces by hand and by machine, sanding, staining, applying veneer and finishing work. Advanced workshop courses cover specialties such as veneer vacuum pressing, inlay techniques, miter joints and leg carving.

Upholstery furniture making certificate programs teach the fundamentals of building upholstered furniture, from bare frame to finished product. Courses include frame design and construction, pattern cutting, seat construction and mathematical models. Advanced courses stress the history of upholstery, furniture sketching and independent study projects.

Furniture makers usually have completed a certificate program at a trade school, choosing to specialize in wood or upholstered furniture production, both of which include a range of skills and tools to master. Once they have the basics, they can explore advanced techniques in a particular niche of furniture creation. Jobs for all woodworkers, including furniture makers, are expected to decrease slightly through 2028.

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