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Outdoor Furniture - House Beautiful

Furniture Making Career and Education Information

Furniture design and production can be basic, or it can be a true marriage of form and function. Changing styles and materials has always changed the way that furniture is manufactured. Furniture makers must understand these trends so they can design and build functional products which also serve to beautify any space.
Career Information for Furniture Making
Furniture makers work with wood, fabric and other materials. They take designs and construct furniture that reflects both function and fashion. Large furniture requires not only constructing a stable frame, but then adding springs, foam and fabric to create chairs, sofas and other upholstered products. A furniture maker who builds this type of furniture must be adept at measuring, cutting and fitting upholstery, as well as sewing and tacking the fabric to the frame.
There are many tools that furniture makers must use in order to do their job. For example, wooden projects may require the use of large machines such as a lathe, belt sander or band saw to begin the process. Smaller tools such as chisels and rasps are used to fine tune the finished design. Finally, furniture makers who work in wood should be well versed in staining and finishing the surface, in order to both protect and beautify the wood.
Materials such as plastic and metal are also used in furniture making. Professionals who work with metals need to be adept at using tools such as a spot welder and using different finishes to protect the product. Plastic furniture is made by using metal molds and either injecting liquid into a mold or bending semi-hard plastic around a mold.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment opportunities for workers in furnishings and wood working are expected to decline by 15% from 2008-2018; however, due to attrition and others changing professions, there should be some openings in the future (www.bls.gov). The annual mean wage for a furniture maker was $31,650 as of May 2009, according to the BLS.
Education Information for Furniture Makers
Many trade schools and colleges offer certificate programs in furniture making or furniture upholstery. Both programs stress safety issues such as the correct usage and maintenance of the many stationary power and hand tools used in each industry. Wood furniture making certificate programs include topics in making and using dovetail joints, installing hardware, cutting ornamentation pieces by hand and by machine, sanding, staining, applying veneer and finishing work. Advanced workshop courses cover specialties such as veneer vacuum pressing, inlay techniques, miter joints and leg carving.
Upholstery furniture making certificate programs teach the fundamentals of building upholstered furniture, from bare frame to finished product. Courses include frame design and construction, pattern cutting, seat construction and mathematical models. Advanced courses stress the history of upholstery, furniture sketching and independent study projects.