WoodSkills Issue 02 - Page 26



Discussion of the essential tools and space requirements in setting up a furniture making space. Valuable insight from an established furniture maker.

Hand tools require regular sharpening to be effective. A blunt chisel is a dangerous tool since the greater force necessary to slice through wood can lead to injury. I always maintain my hand tools, especially chisel and hand plane blades, to a high degree of sharpness. You will find that sharp hand tools will make your furniture making safer and more enjoyable. Over time, you will develop best practices in your furniture making. Best practices instill efficiency and quality in furniture making. Jigs can be developed to create repeatability of furniture components. If creating a large series of similar chairs, jigs will speed the creation of chair components. The use of jigs also ensures each component will precisely fit multiple chairs. Jigs can be reused on a furniture series you plan on marketing for several years. Precision and repeatability are ensured through use of woodworking jigs. Some jigs are used for a unique operation where other jigs are more versatile. I use a fair number of jigs in my furniture making.


Space requirements for a furniture making shop vary. Some furniture makers work on several furniture pieces at a time while others work on individual pieces. Other makers work primarily with hand tools and minimal use of machinery. If the space is small, it is best to work with hand tools and minimal use of machines. With an emphasis on hand tools, workshop space requirements are in the order of 200 square feet. If you build larger furniture or work in small batches, space requirements increase substantially. If your furniture making is machinery intensive, space requirements will increase to accommodate machines. A machinery intensive shop environment will need a minimum of 600 square feet of space.