Furniture Making FAB

Furniture Making for Absolute Beginners

In this tutorial we will make a simple side table like the one pictured, in Sapele.

Sapele is an African tropical hard wood, similar in apperance to Mahogany.

This course will introduce you to using the following tools

  • Thicknesser

  • Plunge Saw

  • Domino Joiner

  • Hand Router

  • Belt Sander

  • Random Orbital Sander

The course materials cost £60, which includes all of the Sapele boards needed to make the table, which will be yours to keep at the end of the course. Everything you need to complete the project will be included (either in the materials package or as "free issue" supplies in Makespace) and no prior experience will be assumed, although for safety reasons you will need to complete the online training and practical assessments for all of the red equipment which you will need to use:

The course will consist of a number of weekly sessions. At each session the next step of the project will be discussed and demonstrated. Each participant will then have the opportunity to complete the next step of the process on at least one part of their project. During the course of the following week each participant will need to make their own time to come into the space and complete that stage of the project.

The materials for the project will be provided as a set of boards cut to rough length and planed flat on one face and one edge. Makespace does not currently have a surface planer (jointer) so this first step in the milling process will be done for you off site.

Each participant will then complete the entire build of their own table, with step by step description and demonstration of the techniques needed.

Session 1

  • Introduction

  • Distribution of materials (you will need a debit or credit card to pay for this)

  • Overview of the whole project

  • Discussion of milling

  • Demonstration of thicknessing

  • Each participant to plane at least 1 board

Participant Followup During Following Week

Ideally this should be done in several sessions over the period of the following week for reasons which will be discussed and explained during the session.

  • Plane to thickness

    • 2 x 20mm boards for the top

    • 1 x 20mm board for skirts

    • 1 x 45mm board for legs

Session 2

  • Discussion of use of the Plunge Saw and MFT top

  • Demonstration of cutting

    • skirt pieces

    • legs

    • leg tapers

  • Each participant to cut skirts and at least 1 leg including tapers.

Participant Followup During Following Week

  • Complete cutting of 4 legs and tapers

Session 3

  • Discussion of loose tenon joinery

  • Demonstration of Domino Joiner for

    • Edge to edge joints (to join the top boards)

    • End to face joints (for skirt to leg joints)

  • Each participant to cut mortices for

    • 1 x top board

    • 1 x leg

    • 1 x skirt

  • Discussion and demonstration of technique for panel glue up's

Participant Followup During Following Week

  • Complete cutting of mortices for

    • 4 legs

    • 4 skirt pieces

    • 2 top boards

  • Glue panel for the top

Session 4

  • Discussion of routing, especially for round overs and chamfers

  • Demonstration of routing a round over

  • Each participant to round over at least 1 skirt piece and 1 leg

  • If time allows a brief introduction to sanding, with particular focus on the table top.

Participant Followup During Following Week

  • Complete routing of round overs on

    • 1 x top

    • 4 x skirt pieces

    • 4 x legs

  • Optionally to begin the sanding of the table top

Session 5

  • Discussion of sanding and finishing

  • Demonstration of sanding the top with the belt and random orbital sanders

  • Demonstration of saning legs and skirt pieces with the bench sander

  • Each participant to perform at least initial sanding on

    • 1 x top

    • 1 x skirt piece

    • 1 x leg

  • Discussion of the process to glue and clamp the leg assembly

Participant Followup During Following Week

Complete the sanding of all components and glue up of the leg assembly

Session 6

  • Discussion of finishing and polishing

  • Demonstration of top fixings

  • Each participant to attach their top to their leg assembly

Participant Followup During Following Week

Complete the finishing and drying of their table.

Session 7

Show and Tell / Social

Bring your finished table, each participant will be offered the (optional!) chance to present their piece and talk about what they learned / what they would do differently.

Bring your friends, this event will be open to all Makespace members.

Possibly combined with a regualar MS social evening.

Engineering Drawing

What Next?

Once you can build a basic table there are lots of ways in which you can elaborate the design to make it more interesting.

After finishing the table top, you could use the Laser Cutters to etch a design into the surface of the table.

Alternatively you can jin different types of wood to make a design. The table pictured was made to this design from Walnut, Ash and Cherry.