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How to Build Your Own Furniture

Designed for woodworkers at almost every level of experience, How to Build Your Own Furniture guides you step by step through several exciting furniture projects. Master woodworker George Vondriska gives you the knowledge and confidence to build beautiful tables and chairs crafted to withstand everyday use—and that you can be proud of.
How to Build Your Own Furniture is rated 4.4 out of 5 by 9.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent introduction. There is a good deal of apparent repetition from one section to another in this course. I say "apparent" because, 1) there are actually subtle differences - not simply a 'cut and paste' editing, and, 2) because these are basic techniques that will be applicable to most/all projects you build, as such they really do bear repetition - just like actually learning on the job. Overall, Mr Vondriska is an excellent teacher and helps you to spot mistakes before you make them.
Date published: 2022-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent class Excellent class - take notes. I need to get my skill sharpened a bit but this class is motivating.
Date published: 2021-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent video for beginning and intermediate woodworkers who want to get into furniture making.
Date published: 2021-08-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hi Sorry Folks...I don’t have anything It will be some time before I will be able to look at this course. So I don’t have anything I can add. I can say I have wanted it for some time so I’m very happy I now have it. Now all I need is the time to watch it. Thank you so much for offering it.
Date published: 2020-01-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Good Basics, but lots of redundancies. This is the third woodworking course I bought from The Great Courses. As an intermediate to advanced woodworker, I just like to see what others do, and maybe pick up a tip or two. George Vondriska is a good instructor, and I did pick up a tip or two. So overall, happy with the course, especially at the price I got it for. If I had a critique, it would be that this course is not really a "course" in the basic sense of taking you from beginning to end. It's like a handful of mini courses / topics bundled together that they titled "How to Build Your Own Furniture". Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, but each topic covers some of the same skills and techniques. For example, the second lecture covers Mortise-and Tenon Joints pretty extensivily, using mulitple methods. Great! Then you get to the third and fourth topic, which actually is a mini course in and of itself (Must-Have Furniture-Making Skills, Part 1 and Part 2). Great! But guess what, a lot of what was covered in lecure two is also covered in this course. Okay, so.. no big deal. It's like a refresher. Then you get to the progects starting with lecure 5 (Build a Sofa Table). You guessed it. Some of the same skills and techniques are covered again. Lots of redundancies, which would not normally happen if this was designed as an actual course. What I am getting at is that the individual lecures within this course are stand alone lecures, which are great by themselves. But they are not a "course". I find myself fast forwarding through a lot of those repeated topics. When you think of a course, typically you progressily build your knowledge or skills from beginning to end. This is not that. That being said, I rate each of the individual lecures highly.
Date published: 2019-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stunning triangular drop-leaf table The "handkerchief" table, so-called because the leaf that drops is a triangle, looking like the handkerchief in a pocket, is spectacular, and walnut was a good choice. The design would be appropriate for almost any decor. It seems challenging, but George takes us through it in functional blocks that makes it less daunting. One suggestion for improving the design aspects of the course would be to include some way to adjust the sizing of the dining chair to accommodate individual needs; for example, I'm short (62") and the current default seat height of chairs (about 19") is very uncomfortable for me, so making a chair that I could actually use is important to me; and many people these days seem to be quite tall so would probably like to be able to adjust the heights of chairs and tables for their comfort, too.
Date published: 2019-08-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from How to Build Your Own Furniture. This is a good course for both beginner and experienced woodworkers. I have been making furniture and other items for over forty years. I learned some things I did not know and different methods for achieving the same task. I was a bit disappointed that this series appears to be an accumulation of single subject products arrange to appear as a single comprehensive program. Thus, some information is repeated from session to session. I did find the session covering a mortising machine setup and use very useful. I have avoided buying one because of the high cost of a quality machine. After seeing how well these machines work and anticipating building a large number of cabinets this year, I am planning to purchase one soon.
Date published: 2019-01-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from How to build your own furniture Too much redundancy on joinery. Similar content on several lessons.
Date published: 2019-01-25
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Join master woodworker George Vondriska of the WoodWorkers Guild of America for 10 in-depth lessons on how you can create simply constructed, yet elaborate, pieces of furniture that are all your own. How to Build Your Own Furniture is a highly accessible learning experience designed for woodworkers at almost every level of experience. Taking you step by step through several exciting furniture projects, Mr. Vondriska gives you the knowledge and confidence to work with a variety of materials and tools so you can create tables and chairs you can be proud of—but, more important, that are solidly crafted to withstand everyday use. So, get your safety glasses and hearing protection ready, power up the tools in your shop, and start making chips.


George Vondriska

My goal is to help you become a better woodworker.


Woodworkers Guild of America

George Vondriska has been teaching woodworking since 1986. In addition to teaching classes at his own Vondriska Woodworks School, George has taught at woodworking shows and retail stores across the country, in Africa as part of the Peace Corps, and for organizations from Andersen Window to Northwest Airlines. He has even taught woodworking at the Pentagon.

After getting his B.S. in Science Education at the University of St. Thomas and a teaching degree in Technical Education from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Mr. Vondriska began his career as a woodworking educator at ShopSmith Academy. Since then, he has taught at or helped develop curriculum for woodworking education programs around the world.

Beyond his work in education, Mr. Vondriska volunteers as an Assistant Scoutmaster and Woodworking Merit Badge Counselor for the Boy Scouts of America. He also runs guitar building sessions for Guitars 4 Vets, a program that provides acoustic guitars and music lessons to injured military veterans.

Mr. Vondriska is the Managing Editor of the WoodWorkers Guild of America. He has also written for American Woodworker Magazine, Fine Woodworking, WOOD, and Woodworkers Journal. He holds a U.S. Patent, issued in February 2008, for inventing the tenon cutting router bit.

How to Build Your Own Furniture


All about Wood

01: All about Wood

Before you start a woodworking project, whether it's a picture frame or a table, you need to know the medium you're working with. How do you know which wood to use and when? What's the difference between particle board and plywood? What does hard" and "soft" wood even mean? What's the difference between wood that's plain sawn versus wood that's quarter sawn? How does lumber go from a tree to the individual plank you use for the job? How do you calculate board feet to make sure you purchase the right amount of material for your project? In this lesson, you'll come away with answers to these and other questions about wood. By the end, you'll have the knowledge to make more informed and economically-sound shopping decisions-and better, more professional woodworking projects."

88 min
Mastering Mortise-and-Tenon Joints

02: Mastering Mortise-and-Tenon Joints

Mortise-and-tenon joints are commonly used in everyday tables and chairs of all sizes, which means it's important for the structural integrity of your project that you make your mortise-and-tenon joints correctly. With help from Mr. Vondriska, you'll learn tips and tricks to get your joints to the right size using a variety of tools so you can adapt to what you have in your workshop. You'll learn what it takes to get a plunge router set up to accurately cut mortises and explore how to use a bench-top mortiser to cut square holes into a piece of hardwood. You'll also look at how to use drill presses and router tables to produce accurate tenons. With all the insights in this lecture, you'll be able to make accurately fitting joints that stand up to the test of time.

72 min
Must-Have Furniture-Making Skills, Part 1

03: Must-Have Furniture-Making Skills, Part 1

If you're going to make furniture like chairs and tables, there's some core information that you'll need to have to ensure your projects come out strong and looking good. Here, you'll tackle the must-have furniture-making skills needed to work ably with your skill level and the tools you have in your workshop. In the first of two lessons on these critical skills, you'll dive into topics including joinery, mortise-and-tenon joints, and loose tenons. Sidestepping a core project, this lesson focuses instead on practicing these skills using pieces of wood you might have just lying around. By watching these skills in action, and practicing them, you'll find yourself more than able to tackle making your own furniture like a master woodworker.

79 min
Must-Have Furniture-Making Skills, Part 2

04: Must-Have Furniture-Making Skills, Part 2

In this engaging lesson on must-have furniture-making skills, turn to topics like tapered legs (both two-sided and four-sided). Mr. Vondriska then moves on to skills involving mitered and non-mitered corners, and talks about right ways to compose a solid wood tabletop that's smooth and flat. And when it comes to furniture making, gluing is just as important as joinery. You'll explore how to glue pieces edge to edge so they stick, stay flat, and look great. With all the many skills you'll cover in this lesson, you'll be able to customize them to fit your particular experience level-as well as the woodworking tools you have around you. With just a little patience and practice, there's no excuse for not being able to make your own furniture.

104 min
Build a Sofa Table

05: Build a Sofa Table

Your project in this lesson: a mission-style sofa table made from quarter-sawn oak that's held together by 24 mortise-and-tenon joints. Mr. Vondriska shows you ways to tackle the process of making a sofa table, from choosing the right wood to applying the last coats of stain. Along the way, you'll learn tips like these: Yellow glue dries faster than white glue and is easier to sand. Cut slats from an edge of 6/4 wood to get a quarter-sawn appearance. When using a table saw, build your dado head to slightly exceed the length of your tenon. Drill oversized holes in your shelf support to allow for the wood's seasonal expansion and contraction. Remove your table's top and shelf before you apply finish.

123 min
Chair-Making Essentials

06: Chair-Making Essentials

It's true that a lot of woodworkers, even seasoned ones, are challenged by making chairs. Because there are few pieces of furniture in a house that have to tolerate stress like a chair, it's essential that the joinery is the best it can possibly be. Here, examine the essentials of chair making, with a focus on offset mortise-and-tenon joints (as there are 24 such joints that go into the chair you'll learn how to make). Additional features you'll create include a handhold that makes it easy to move the chair around, and book-matched back slats made of walnut. Plus, you'll get more help from an expert upholsterer who shows you all sorts of accessible tips and tricks for making attractive, professional slip-seats for your chair.

135 min
Beautiful Bedside Table

07: Beautiful Bedside Table

In this lesson, your project is a beautiful bedside table made of white oak that includes distinct features that will test your woodworking skills, including a full-extension drawer, leg and rail construction with mortise-and-tenon joinery throughout, two shelves that provide a unique opportunity to work with the expansion and contraction of solid wood, and a shelf bracket that's dadoed into the table legs. Mr. Vondriska takes you step by step through the process of making this table, instilling in you the confidence and knowledge to tackle a second table entirely on your own-because, of course, you'll need another table for the other side of your bed.

78 min
Handkerchief Table

08: Handkerchief Table

Also known as drop-leaf tables, handkerchief tables may look complex. But with the tips you'll learn in this lesson, you'll be able to successfully complete one of these tables in your own workshop. One of the tasks you'll focus on is the joinery required to create the table's signature drop-leaf: a rule joint made with a match set of router bits specifically for drop-leaf tables. Other details you'll learn to make include the gate leg that swings not on a mechanical hinge, but a hinge you'll create using a dado head on a table saw; tapered legs that give the table a more delicate look; mortise-and-tenon joints at both 90- and 45-degree angles; and more. Never built a drop-leaf table before? Mr. Vondriska walks you through all the geometry and cool woodworking techniques you need.

161 min
Design and Shape Cabriole Legs

09: Design and Shape Cabriole Legs

Join guest instructor David Munkittrick for a helpful, accessible look at how to design and build a classic style of leg-known for its s-curve and rounded foot-that goes all the way back to ancient Egypt and China. Like most complex woodworking projects, there are many ways you can go about shaping a cabriole leg, but Mr. Munkittrick simplifies the process so you can find the way that works best for you. Using a basic two-dimensional template, you'll built a Queen Anne-style cabriole leg that's 2-3/4 inches thick and 24 inches long. And the best part: Aside from a cabinet-maker's rasp, you won't have to spend lots of money on special tools to make this iconic leg. With just a little practice, you'll be surprised at how easy it is to make a cabriole leg of your own.

60 min
Finishing Essentials

10: Finishing Essentials

Nervous about finishing a woodworking project you've spent so much time and work on? No need to worry. In this lesson on the essentials of finishing projects, Mr. Vondriska teaches you what he's learned about finishing from his own mistakes. The goal: to give you the confidence level you need to finish your projects the right way-the first time. What finish should you use? What are the best tools for applying them? How do you avoid honey-like layers of finish that never want to dry? What are the benefits of lacquer, varnish, and urethane? What's the difference between natural bristles and synthetic bristles on particular types of finishing products (whether man-made or water-based)? Whether you're finishing a chair, a side table, or a picture frame, learn how to give your projects the great finale they deserve.

97 min