Furniture Design: Think About the Tools You Have
In our live webinar on February 18, artist and furniture designer Yoav Liberman will talk about getting design inspiration from raw materials. Here’s something that frequently inspires my furniture designs: I don’t have enough tools. Fortunately, you don’t have to have every tool in the catalog to design and build your own furniture. If you have a good saw and a nail or screw gun, you can make a lot of different projects with a little creativity.
Use Plywood in Your Furniture Design
Plywood is an excellent material for a variety of projects. It’s flat and doesn’t move much with changes in humidity. You can buy pre-glued edge banding that applies with a hot iron to cover up those raw edges. Think about this material whenever you’re designing built-ins or cabinets.
Instead of gluing up thick table legs with solid wood, cut four pieces of MDF and nail or screw them together. Then fill the screw holes, sand the filler flush with the MDF, and apply veneer to all four faces. You can use paper or phenolic-backed veneer and bond it to the MDF with contact cement. Or, you can use yellow glue and a clothing iron. Veneered legs often look better than solid wood legs because you can get the same kind of grain on all four faces.
Buy Your Lumber S4S
The lumber you buy at the home center is usually called S4S, which means that it has been surfaced or planed on all four sides. Home centers have a limited variety of species, but your local hardwood supplier will probably plane lumber for a small fee, sometimes as little as $.15/foot.
Get a Pocket-Hole Jig
Cabinet shops use pocket-hole joints for a surprising number of projects. Face frames are almost always built with pocket holes. Casework can be put together this way, too. You can design all sorts of projects when you have one of these jigs in your shop, and the least expensive model is about $10.
As you acquire more tools, you can design more elaborate projects. In the meantime, you can create some excellent projects by designing for the tools you have.
Check out Yoav Liberman’s February 18 webinar, Urban Woodworking: Designing One-of-a-Kind Furniture for an in-depth look at the process of creating unique pieces.