One of the assignments I give my entry level students is the task of dismantling an upholstered piece of furniture. They are required to save and count all of the parts, including every staple and nail. I ask them to measure and draw one of the individual parts from the piece of furniture.
I use these elements of the assignment so they can work backwards from a complex piece of furniture to the minute details that make up a complete whole. They have the opportunity to see how primary and secondary species and qualities of wood are utilized. It is also a ton of fun! To round out the exercise, we visit a professional upholstery factory.
I like to visit furniture factories so the students can see how companies scale up production from a small shop to making pieces in quantities of tens or hundreds. We recently visited Anees Upholstery in Chicago, and one of the owners, Samir, gave us a wonderful tour, answering all of our questions and shedding insight to their particular process.