Why Build Your Own Furniture?

My Dad and Grandfather built the house I grew up in.  It’s a lovely house and was valued at $570,000 just a few years ago.  Very few people my age know how to build a simple bookcase, much less a house (I couldn’t build a house!)  And many kids don’t know that food comes from plants… we are losing our life skills to the supermarket and Pottery Barn. 

Times are tough, and money is tight.  I know… I’m trying to stretch my family’s budget too.  A few things can help.  In particular I like DIY.  Why pay someone to do something I can do myself?  (Especially since I’m unemployed right now.)  Why buy new when I can fix up something used or build it myself?

The levels of DIY furniture:

1. Refinishing or painting used pieces – the easiest DIY furniture of all time.

Check the garage sales, thrift store, even the sidewalk for well-made stuff that’s seen better days.  A coat of paint is the easiest and can make a huge difference.  If you’ve got a little more ambition and a sander, you can refinish just about anything. 

2.  Assembly.  Putting together IKEA bookshelves does count as DIY, and besides being cheap, some IKEA furniture is made from sustainable materials.

You can build your own furniture only needing these skills too.  At the hardware store or lumber yard, you can get them to cut your sheet goods for you.  At  Home Depot, the first 2 cuts are free, and $0.50 each after that.  Print out one of Ana’s fantastic plans and bring it with you.

Know what lumber you want, and tell the guy in the lumber section that you need something cut for you (say 3/4” MDF or cabinet grade plywood).  He should be able to unload and cut (using Ana’s cutting guide) it for you.  They should be able to help you load it in or on your car too.

Why is this a good idea?

For the beginner, this allows you to focus on just one thing, learning how to use your drill for drilling pilot holes and screwing.  The lumber is easier to get in your car, and lighter for you to carry (am I right ladies!)

3.  Carpentry.  This includes cutting your lumber in addition to gluing and screwing it together.  I love carpentry and all the power tools that go with it… you’ll hear a lot more on this from me, but I don’t want this post to become a dissertation :)


  So that finally brings me to the main question, should you build your own furniture?

Take this simple quiz to find out:

Do you need furniture that is a bit nonstandard (extra tall, narrow, wide, or short)?

Do you want furniture that costs the same as cheapo particle board stuff, but is quality in its looks and lasts?

Do you want to gain valuable life skills and a sense of accomplishment?


If you answered yes, then you are an excellent candidate for building your own furniture!

Visit Ana’s Knock-Off Wood or Rayan’s The Design Confidential for great furniture plans, check out my tutorials for power tools (beginner’s use tutorials coming soon!) and send an email if you need help!

You can do it!


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