Help me make a coffee table?
January 18, 2009 4:36 PM   Subscribe

Where can I learn to build furniture in or near Montgomery Country, Maryland?

So, for a few years now I've had a desire to learn how to make my own furniture and in turn furnish my apartment with pieces I've designed and created myself.

I'm now in the position where I can afford to take classes and invest in learning how to do this. I know I can get access to a shop at the local club for a monthly fee, but unfortunately the classes they run don't fit into my schedule. Does anyone know where a guy can learn the basics of furniture making and joinery around Montgomery County, preferably on the weekends? If they are intensive weekend classes, I'm more than willing to drive a little bit (no more than two hours, ideally) to get to them.
posted by Loto to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Whose tools are you planning on using?
posted by atm at 5:15 PM on January 18, 2009

Never mind, I see now that you're going to use the ones at a shop at a local club.

Norm Abram has a show on PBS called New Yankee Workshop and watching a dozen of those is like a Woodworking 101 class.
posted by atm at 5:17 PM on January 18, 2009

I've just recently been bitten (HARD) by the woodworking bug. Of course, I'm in Australia so can't recommend local classes, but what I've found useful is:
(1) Doing a _lot_ of reading of these woodworking forums . The sort of knowledge you can pick up through other people's experience, be they professional or amateur, is nothing less than humbling. The forums themselves are Australian, but there are many prolific posters from the US offering advice and whatnot too.
(2) Watching woodworking videos on youtube. Turns out, it's AMAZING what you can do with a table saw!

Also, you're going to want tools of your own. Half the enjoyment of woodworking is coming home at the end of the day and disappearing into the peace and quiet of the workshop... Be fairly warned, though: tools get expensive fast. Second-hand tools are a godsend.

Finally, speaking as a rank beginner, I'd recommend diving into making something simple, but being aware that your first few attempts are going to be.. interesting. I'm making a letterbox, and frankly I'm making a bit of of a hash out of it (protip: hardwood hurts tools and makes the baby jesus's chisel cry). But the amount I'm learning from just putting together a box? Totally surprising. I'm just glad I can hide the most obvious horrors of my first construction attempt outside....
posted by coriolisdave at 5:38 PM on January 18, 2009

Woodcraft might have some classes of interest. I can not speak from direct experience as my only knowledge of their classes comes from it being one of the places (mostly online) where I shop. My furniture making course was in Maine, so I can not help much more than that. (Although the CFC does have summer classes.)
posted by Dick Paris at 7:15 PM on January 18, 2009

A lot will depend on what sort of furniture you hope to build, since not every school will teach the same skills. For example, John Alexander, in Baltimore, teaches green woodworking if you like rustic, rural, and handcrafty. You'd need to see someone else about more refined colonial American furniture, or for modern Design Within Reach stuff.
posted by jon1270 at 3:57 AM on January 19, 2009

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