A Beginner’s Guide to Making Furniture: Ideas, Tools, and Tips

Does the idea of building a piece of furniture make you nervous? You may wonder, Are my skills sufficient? Will the furniture turn out decent?

Some furniture projects require intricate detail and advanced skills, but that’s not the case with many others. Building furniture is an excellent way for you to develop your skills and build practical pieces you’ll be proud of.

To help you get started on the right foot, we have some beginner-level project ideas for you below.

And tips on how to build them without breaking the bank!

We’ll cover:

Let’s get started!

DIY furniture project ideas

A man building a chairIf you’re just starting out in woodworking, you’re probably looking for easy DIY furniture ideas. You don’t want an exhausting list of steps or supplies. You’re just ready to see your own furniture take shape.

We feel you!

There’s nothing like the rush of excitement that comes with making your very own table or chair—not to mention the relief of avoiding an expensive trip to the furniture store.

So, here’s our round-up of projects that involve only a couple steps and basic woodworking supplies. They’re perfect for beginners, but still stunning and versatile.

We’ve organized them into the following categories:

  • Living room
  • Kitchen
  • Dining room
  • Bedroom
  • Outdoor

Living room

A living room with a wooden coffee tableWe can scarcely think of a better place for handmade furniture than the living room! After all, the furniture is what makes it welcoming and comfortable.

The wooden pieces typical in a living room are often fairly simple, so they make for great beginner projects:

  • Coffee table: Making a coffee table is just a matter of making a tabletop and attaching it to some table legs. But it’s far from boring! You can achieve any style you want—just pick the wood type, select the legs, and add any stylistic details you want. Start by checking out this tutorial by Ana White.
  • Side table or end table: These tiny tables are perfect for small spaces and can easily fit in beside a couch or entryway. Some can be more complicated than others, but this modern side table tutorial breaks it down into a couple of easy steps.
  • Console table: This basic stand can function as a TV stand or entertainment center table. Of course, you can add as many details as you like, but try this sleek and simple design.
  • Ottoman: This piece of furniture has become a popular home décor piece in the last couple of years. And although it might test some of your skills with fabric tufting and arrangement, it’s still beginner friendly and makes for a chic centerpiece. Just look at this design by This Old House.
  • Shoe rack: What better way to keep your shoes organized than with a shoe rack? Make your own stylish wood shoe rack with this guide by Woodshop Diaries. The best news? It only takes one 2×10 board to make it!


Wooden stools at a kitchen islandWith all of its appliances and gadgets, the kitchen may very well be the most expensive room in the house.

So why pay an arm and a leg for yet another piece of furniture or home décor when you can make it yourself?

  • Dish rack: This project is short and sweet. It only requires a couple tools, pieces of wood, and dowel rods. Check out this 3-minute tutorial by the Merrythought.
  • Spice rack: Need to declutter your spice cabinet? We recommend using a nifty spice rack. Not only will it help you organize your spices, but it’ll also be quick and inexpensive to make. Just follow this tutorial by Project Build Stuff.
  • Kitchen cart: You can use this nifty bar cart by Woodshop Diaries to move around any essentials in your kitchen area. It’s good for holding pots or pans, featuring your kitchen décor, or serving food to your guests.

Dining room

A dining room with a wooden table and chairsThe centerpiece of a dining room is the table, determining how the rest of the room will look. Why not personalize your table by making it from scratch? Add some accessories while you’re at it!

  • Table: You can make a seriously stunning dining table in just a couple steps with this guide by April Wilkerson. While the technique for this project isn’t too advanced, you can enhance it with an elegant wood color and finish.
  • Coat rack: Accordion coat racks are coming back in style, but with their surge in popularity they’re also becoming much more expensive. Make your own at a fraction of the price with this tutorial by Woodshop Diaries.
  • Ladder shelf: Display even more décor and books in your dining room with this chic ladder shelf. You can save yourself a fair amount of money by making this project instead of buying one online.

Bedroom furniture

A modern-style wooden bedMaking your own furniture is an excellent way to personalize a bedroom. Don’t spend hours looking for a nightstand that matches your child’s bed when you can make it yourself with these build plans.

  • Bookshelf: If you feel like all the store-bought bookcases aren’t the right dimensions for your books or room, you can make one that suits your needs perfectly. You can make a more modern one like this one by Woodshop Diaries or try your hand at making a floating shelf.
  • Nightstand: Like a lot of our table-type projects, this rustic modern nightstand is a pretty simple build. You can make it as plain or as decorative as you’d like.
  • Kids’ play table and chairs: Take the time to make something for your little ones with this guide from Woodshop Diaries. Beyond following the pattern, you can decorate this table or paint it in whatever colors you’d like at a better price than buying it. What’s not to like?
  • Toy box: Build a customized toy box for your children with this simple toy box tutorial. What’s more, this box can work as a storage unit when your child gets older.

Outdoor furniture

Wooden Adirondack chairs looking out on a lakeYour neighbors are sure to be impressed when you build your very own patio furniture. And who knows? They might even commission you to build them something in the future!

  • Planter box: Give your patio a makeover with this trendy planter. Its unique shape gives it a modern look and makes it easy to put together.
  • Bench: This wooden bench design is the perfect addition to any patio, and it only takes a couple steps to make. It can even double as a storage bench!
  • Patio chair: This patio chair by Woodshop Diaries is simple, but it’s versatile in that it can go along with many types of design schemes. (Not to mention it costs a lot less to make than to purchase in-store.)

Tools and supplies

Screws, a screwdriver, tape measure, ruler, wood pieces, and pencil scattered on a work tableBefore you start creating your own piece of furniture, you’ll need some basic tools and supplies. The items below are simple enough for any beginner to use but are versatile for many types of woodworking projects.

  • Safety gear: Gloves, goggles, and earplugs are just a couple of things you’ll need to protect yourself from the hazards of your workshop.
  • Sander or sandpaper: Nearly every project will require sanding to make your furniture pieces smooth. You may want to start off with sandpaper and then switch to a sander if you start creating more projects.
  • Moisture meter: This tool will tell you how much moisture is in a piece of wood so you can know whether it’s ready for use. Use it to test wood at your local home improvement store before purchasing it. Also test any scrap wood you want to use in your DIY home projects.
  • Measuring tape: This tool is a crucial part of making sure your project has the right dimensions.
  • Combination square: This measuring tool helps you know exactly what degree you’re cutting at to ensure your lines are straight and even.
  • Pencils or chalk: Use these tools to mark measurements and trace patterns.
  • Saws: A miter saw or a circular saw are both wonderful options for making almost any cut you want to make. As a more advanced option, many woodworkers suggest getting a table saw to make long, straight cuts. Meanwhile, bandsaws are for finer details in a piece of wood.
  • Staple gun: Aside from stapling together thin wooden boards, this tool works well for stapling fabric, like chair cushions, to hard surfaces.
  • Nail gun: This power tool helps you insert nails much faster than you could with a hammer.
  • Power drill: Power drills can help you drill holes and insert screws effortlessly. We also recommend getting hole saw bits that you can attach to your drill for drilling perfect holes in seconds.
  • Clamps: Clamps help hold boards as you glue, screw, or nail them together.

You might need to purchase some other tools, depending on what kind of project you’re doing, but these will get you started.

A screwdriver with wood and screws for making furnitureThe same goes for our list of project supplies here:

  • Wood: There are countless options when it comes to choosing wood! A lot of DIYers even find ways to repurpose wood by using a wood pallet or by taking scrap wood from other items.
  • Metal chair or table legs: Although you might like wooden legs for some of your projects, you can also attach metal legs to your chairs or tables. (Hairpin legs are especially popular now.)
  • Wooden dowels: Dowels are small cylindrical wooden pieces that you insert into holes in the wood to hold two pieces together. They work well for a small-scale project like a dish rack.
  • Caster wheels: Wheels are a helpful attachment to any heavy piece of furniture you plan on scooting around. You can attach them to side tables, planter boxes, ottomans, and more!
  • Screws: This is one of the most common types of fasteners.
  • Staples: Staples provides an easier way to attach thinner materials—like fabric—to wooden boards.
  • Fabric: If you plan on making any seat covers, you’ll need fabric for it. Selecting your fabric can be exciting because you get to pick out the pattern and color.
  • Stuffing: Stuff your seat with materials like foam or cotton to ensure it’s soft enough to sit on.
  • Furniture stoppers: Use rubber stops to keep your newly attached chair or table legs from scratching your floor.
  • Wood stain and finish: These supplies will help you complete your furniture project. A fresh layer of wood stain can help you get the wood color you want. Meanwhile, the finish will seal and protect your furniture from wear and tear.
  • Paint: Paint is another great option to give your furniture piece some color.
  • Wood glue: This adhesive can help you bring your project together without making any holes. It’s best in areas where it only has to hold together light pieces of wood or where you don’t want screws to be seen.
  • Wood filler: Use wood filler to fill in all the gaps and cracks in your wood so you’ll have a smooth, unblemished surface.

With this overview, you’re ready to think about a project and get the tools and supplies specific to it. Next, we’ll look at some tips to keep in mind.

Tips to make furniture that lasts

Set yourself up for success with these tips for preparing and executing your project:

Plan ahead

A person writing a woodworking planMake a list of supplies and materials. Have your furniture plans handy to ensure you have everything you need and to save yourself a lot of trouble down the road.

You’ll also need to spend some time going over your plans and doing some research. Figure out how much the project will cost to make, how much time it will take, and how you need to assemble it together.

Select the right materials

Be sure to buy the right materials, especially the type of wood, for your project. This means considering the color, style, durability, and strength of the wood. You can buy it from a home improvement store. Or, you can collect reclaimed or recycled wood.

Other supplies and tools can be found on Amazon or at a local hardware store

Check your wood’s moisture content

Three Bessemeter wood moisture metersIt’s crucial to check the moisture content (MC) of a piece of wood before you build with it. This is because the MC of a piece of wood is heavily impacted by its environment.

If its MC is not equal to the moisture of its environment, the wood could be at risk for serious damage. In its attempt to meet the moisture levels of its environment, it could warp, shrink, swell, or mold, ruining your hard work.

Save yourself that headache by testing the moisture of the wood and letting it acclimate to the right conditions.

Check your wood for defects

Try to find wood with minimal defects, especially when you’re dealing with reclaimed wood. You can always fill in the cracks with wood filler, but your project will be easier if you have less to fill in.

Prep your workspace

Before you begin, make sure you have a clear, clean workspace to build in. Remove any potential hazards from the room and gather all your supplies together.

Prep your wood

Place wood filler in any cracks, let it dry, and sand your boards. Then, stain the boards before assembling them to ensure an even coat.

(Note: The woodworking community disagrees about whether it’s better to stain before assembly or afterward. Staining beforehand has its benefits, though, because it helps you to catch spots that may be difficult to reach once pieces are joined.)

Use the right technique

Carefully review the tutorial you plan on following. If it requires you to use a technique you’ve never done before, try it out on an old scrap of wood until you get the hang of it.

Measure carefully

Take extra time to make sure your measurements are correct before sawing or drilling into the wood. This will ensure your project turns out correctly.

Select the right finish

Be sure to pick the right finish for your project. For example, an indoor furniture project might not require the same finish as an outdoor project.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

If you’re just beginning your woodworking hobby, chances are you’ll need some advice from more experienced woodworkers. There are tons of YouTube videos and woodworker blogs you can check out for tips and tutorials. You might even have a family member or two you could go to for help.

Set yourself up for successful furniture

A hand sketching a plan for a piece of wood furniture

When you take the time to do something right, your effort shows up in your project’s quality and durability. Your projects will last a long time and reflect quality craftsmanship.

And doing solid work doesn’t have to be exhausting! It all starts with planning ahead and choosing the right project for your skill level.

That includes using a moisture meter to prevent damage to your hard work. Want to learn more about how using one can help keep your furniture in tip-top shape? Check out “How to Prevent Moisture Damage to Wood Furniture.”

Tips to Make Your Furniture Last:

  • Plan ahead
  • Select the right materials
  • Check your wood’s moisture content
  • Check your wood for defects
  • Prep your workspace
  • Prep your wood
  • Use the right technique
  • Measure carefully
  • Select the right finish
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Tools You’ll Need:

  • Safety gear
  • Sandpaper or sander
  • Moisture meter
  • Measuring tape
  • Combination square
  • Pencils or chalk
  • Saws
  • Staple gun
  • Nail gun
  • Power drill
  • Clamps

Supplies You’ll Need:

  • Wood
  • Metal chair or table legs
  • Wooden dowels
  • Caster wheels
  • Screws
  • Staples
  • Fabric
  • Stuffing
  • Furniture stoppers
  • Wood stain and finish
  • Paint
  • Wood glue
  • Wood filler