How to Make Unique DIY Furniture for Your House

Reader Contribution by Steve Maxwell and Bailey Line Road
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Photo by Steve Maxwe

Why buy the kind of new furniture that everybody else has when you can make your own highly individual pieces? Furthermore, making your own furniture can often be more environmentally friendly than purchasing items that are manufactured and transported from overseas. So, here are some ideas for making DIY furniture that will transform your home into something special. 

Make Sure You Have the Right Tools and Know How to Use Them

If you are new to DIY, of course you won’t have all the tools required for building furniture. So, your first step should be getting tools and learning how to use them properly. After all, you cannot construct a table without knowing how to make clean cuts with a saw and knowing the correct way to use a drill and other tools. You don’t need to be perfect, but spend time learning the basics before you begin to design and construct custom pieces of furniture. Common tools you will need are:

  • Hammer
  • Saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Drill
  • Electric sander

However, if you’re beyond such basics, you may like to consider upping your furniture-making capabilities by using Computerized Numerical Control  (CNC) machinery. These machines are widely used in the manufacturing industry and more and more hobbyists are now using them for home projects. Too expensive? Not when you consider how much money a CNC machine can save you in furniture bills. 

One of the best CNC tools for making furniture is a CNC router. It basically consists of a cutting bed, spindle, drive system, and controller. Most CNC routers have drive systems that enable the spindle to move and cut in three different directions, which means you can create some very complex and interesting shapes with high precision. Whatever you can design on a computer screen your CNC setup can render in real wood. You will find used CNC routers for sale from leading brands that are just as good as new, so it does not have to cost a lot to purchase CNC machinery.

Make a Plan

Whether you’re using hand tools or CNC equipment, you must have a plan in place before you begin constructing your chosen item of furniture. If you are new to DIY furniture making, start with simple projects. A footstool is good. There is no point in trying to run before you can walk. Beginners should start with something like a basic table, while proficient DIYers may like to try their hands at something more challenging such as a shelving unit or armchair. Whatever your level of expertise, you need a plan to follow. A good plan will save you time and money, and make the overall experience of the project much more enriching. 

Projects to Try

The great thing about making your own furniture is you get to design pieces to your exact specifications and sizes needed. You may know how many hours can be spent looking for furniture in stores and online, and often still never finding the item that you have in mind. When you make your own DIY furniture, you control every element of the design, enabling you to create highly individual pieces for your house without driving all around town. As you develop your DIY skills, you will eventually be able to make any item of furniture you want, from desks, chairs, and bookcases to bed frames, cabinets, and even settees. Here are three projects to consider.

An Upcycled Coffee Table

Chair-leg bench
Photo by

Upcycling is a great way for DIY newbies to begin as it involves revamping old items rather than building pieces of furniture from new wood. Upcycling is also fantastic for more experienced DIYers because it allows you to make truly unique pieces that become talking points. Furthermore, upcycling helps the environment.

Try making an upcycled coffee table by first buying a couple of old chair bases at a salvage yard or flea market. You can also buy two whole used chairs and saw off the seat and top. Select a piece of beautiful wood to be used as the tabletop, then set it on top of the two chair leg assemblies, one at each end. Mark the location of holes for the legs in the underside of the top, bore those holes, then glue the leg assemblies into place. Finally, stain or polish the wood, paint or clean the legs, and voila, you have an amazing one-of-a-kind coffee table.

Wall Shelving Unit

Wall shelf
Photo by Canstock Photo

One way of creating more space in a room and making all of your books, DVDs, records, and other items look pleasing is to get rid of bulky furniture and instead build a shelving unit that covers an entire wall. You can choose from a variety of woods – pine, oak or veneered plywood – or try an industrial look with black iron pipes. With a wooden design, you will need to learn joining skills. Working with black iron pipes can be simpler, involving nothing more than threading pieces together, cleaning then painting.  

A Cube Coat Rack

Cube coat rack
Photo from Amazon

A great way of tidying up your entrance hall and having a custom item that people see as soon as they enter is to build a coat rack. For a stylish design, consider a cube coat rack. Not only does a cube rack look elegant, it’s also easy to make. Construct a box shape, adding your own features, then add some stylish hooks on the bottom for coats. Paint the rack a color to match the rest of your hallway’s interior.

Steve Maxwellcalls himself “Canada’s Handiest Man.” He connects with a worldwide audience to share his carpentry and DIY expertise. He lives with his family on Manitoulin Island, Ontario. Follow his workonline. Read all of Steve’s MOTHER EARTH NEWSposts here.

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