I would do it myself if I only knew how.
January 19, 2011 12:31 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for good books and blogs on furniture building and other diy home improvement projects for apartment dwellers. I like building things, and am interested in making my own furniture, but I'd like to use a book that's geared toward small spaces and spaces where one can't actually make "built-ins" but can replicate the look.
posted by ocherdraco to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

Response by poster: Thanks, jillithd. Most of those are also more focused on decorating--I'm specifically looking for resources for building things. I'm also particularly looking for books; I've got a bookstore gift certificate I'm trying to use. (Of course, if a website has the right info, I'd still be happy to see it!) And while a book doesn't have to be specifically geared toward apartment dwellers, I'd like it if the majority of the projects were applicable to apartments.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:01 PM on January 19, 2011

Best answer: (FWIW, I am an architect and furniture maker)

Pocket Screw joinery (particularly the Kreg system) is something I would heartily recommend. This (available through Amazon) is a how-to DVD that gives a quick but thorough introduction to the concept and process. It also provides some basic example projects that can be extrapolated to much larger or detailed designs.

As an apartment dweller, much of the useful stuff you can build must be freestanding and not attached to any walls or structure, so it needs to rely on only itself for strength. As you are starting out, you want to keep the methods simple and the success rate high. If you familiarize yourself with this technique (which takes about 30 minutes), you will walk around with completely different eyes, recognizing tons of different things that you can build better than you could buy. Some of the advantages of pocket screw joinery:

Simple and fast
- Very strong, but requiring no glue (therefore no clamps or stationary dry time)
- Scalable - allows you to build/assemble something in pieces over time
- Apart from what you cut your material with, it requires only a drill/screwgun
- Very flexible and can be easily used with any thickness or type of material
- Very easy to use with plywoods that often split/de-laminate (plywood construction is great for apartment type projects - bookcases, benches, cabinets, storage, etc)
- It really makes near-perfect joints every time.
- It's as much a pro tool as a beginner's tool. Pro's are often more judicial in it's application, but think no less of it's benefits.

Having built everything from super simple to super intricate, I really love a tool like this that just let's something get built without a lot of gymnastics. Knowing this technique informs process, which to my mind is inseparable from design, especially with furniture and casework.
posted by nickjadlowe at 3:05 PM on January 19, 2011 [6 favorites]

Best answer: (I feel like my above comment didn't specifically address your question...sorry 'bout that)

I particularly like Shaker and Japanese furniture and cabinetry design.

I have both of these Shaker measured drawing books and they are great guides (and inspiration).

If you are interested in beautiful, hand-cut joinery, this book of traditional Japanese joinery is fantastic.
posted by nickjadlowe at 3:40 PM on January 19, 2011

What is your space like now and how much are you thinking about plowing into tools? If kind of guessing you're not going to be running out and getting a giant table saw any time soon. It's hard to recommend books like this since there tends to be a fairly rapid turnover in woodworking books, specifically those geared for beginners.

What would you be using as your workspace? Are power tools an option or would all of your neighbors hate you in short order? Is there some kind of workshop space you can become a member of and use their tools and workspace?

A lot of how you should proceed depends upon your exact situation.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:16 PM on January 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I like how Greg Allen made an Enzo Mari table with various pieces of furniture bought at IKEA:
The Making Of An Enzo Mari Dining Room Table
Enzo Mari x Ikea Mashup, Ch. 1
Enzo Mari X IKEA Mashup, Ch. Last
The flickr set
posted by bru at 5:20 PM on January 19, 2011

Response by poster: Those measured drawing books are the closest to what I had in mind, so far. I have basic skills and tools; I'm looking more for inspiration.
posted by ocherdraco at 6:35 PM on January 19, 2011

Best answer: Cabinetmaking by Bill Hylton which isn't about making kitchen cabinets, but rather about making all kinds of furniture - someone described it as the Gray's Anatomy of woodworking, which isn't far off. Lots of exploded views and examinations of what stylistic nuances make a piece of furniture be this or that style. A huge amount of the book is available on Google Books.

Robert W. Lang has several books of shop drawings of Arts and Crafts era furniture that would probably appeal to you.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 9:50 PM on January 19, 2011

Response by poster: Ooh, those look great Kid Charlemagne.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:56 AM on January 20, 2011

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