Building Your Own Furniture: Frequently Asked Questions

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When you build or refurbish your own furniture, you don't just save money, but you also wind up with a product that fills you with the pride of accomplishment. With refurbished or repaired pieces, you also cut down on waste and get the satisfaction of recycling and reusing old items to make something new.

Finally, one of the last benefits of building your own furniture is that it allows you to customize and create the items that you actually want, not the one the catalog company tells you that you want.

Keep reading to learn the answers to common questions about building your own furniture and its benefits.

I'm curious about building my own furniture, but how do I start?

The best answer is that you should start small. Depending on your experience, tools and available time, you're more likely to reach success with your first project if you focus on building your skill level with a small project.

Try refinishing an old table or building something small, like a footstool, to get comfortable using the tools and working on creating a skills' foundation.

Do I need to take a woodworking class?

No, but it can help. You'll be surrounded by fellow students and teachers who are there to help answer your questions. For an evening a week for just a few months, you can build up a lot of practical knowledge.

If you don't have the time or the money for a class, look into how-to books or DVDs that focus on the particular project or skill that catches your interest. Also, check online forums, like those at, as a good resource and place to ask questions and share ideas.

I'm interested in refurbishing, but what do I refurbish?

Look around your house for old pieces that could do with a newly sanded finish, fresh coat of varnish, spots of glue on the wood joints and new drawer pulls. If you're not having much success, check the flea markets and local used goods stores for furniture items that are begging to be refinished.

What should I look for when choosing a piece of furniture to refinish?

Look for a piece that is well-built and has a solid foundation. If you can fix the problem, like a shaky leg that just needs to be screwed in, then go for it, but don't waste your time on a poorly-built piece of scrap.

Next, look for items that are made of actual wood, not particle board. While it's possible to strip and paint particle board, it's rarely worth it in the long run.
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