Furniture Makers use a variety of woods, laminates, and other materials to design, construct, craft, and repair cabinets, chairs, desks, tables, dressers, fixtures, and other related products. They may also restore antique pieces of furniture. Furniture Makers are employed by furniture manufacturing or repair companies, construction companies, and cabinetmaking contractors, or they may be self-employed.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Furniture Makers are required to complete.
- Building, maintaining, and repairing different pieces of furniture:
- Studying plans, specifications, sketches, or drawings of furniture to be made;
- consulting with clients to find out their needs and working towards a concept;
- drafting or sketching an original design, if necessary;
- marking outlines or dimensions of parts on wood or other materials;
- measuring, cutting, shaping, welding/joining, and/or assembling the different materials according to the design plans (e.g. wood, wood substitutes, metals, or textiles);
- completing the piece by using glue and clamps, as well as reinforcing joints using nails, screws, or other fasteners;
- sanding wooden surfaces and applying veneer or stain, painting and polishing finished products, and finalizing aesthetics; and
- repairing or restyling damaged furniture, fixtures, and other related products.
- Ensuring that their products are well constructed and sturdy enough for the purpose for which they were designed.
- Restoring antique furniture.
- Operating woodworking machines, such as power saws, jointers, mortisers, and shapers:
- Using hand tools to cut, shape, and form parts and components; and
- ensuring safe use of tools and potentially harmful chemicals.
- Creating a network of vendors, suppliers, and clients:
- Sourcing different materials, such as wood, timber, metal, plastic, leather, and aluminum, from specialist suppliers and merchants.
- Estimating amount, type, and cost of materials required.
- Keeping up-to-date on the latest market trends and developments.
- Reading and studying plans, specifications, and drawings.
- Building, maintaining, and repairing pieces of furniture made of wood, wood substitutes, metal, and other materials.
- Operating woodworking machines and other hand tools.
- Assembling furniture and attaching parts together, as well as adding parts like brackets, hinges, handles, and locks.
- Working out the quantity, type, and cost of the materials needed.
The average salary for Furniture Maker related jobs is $44,328 per year or $23 per hour. This is around 1.4 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $31,000 while most experienced workers make up to $62,000. These results are based on 29 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Outstanding commercial focus.
- Interpersonal, communication, and customer service skills:
- Communicating clearly, both in writing and verbally, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with clients and colleagues; and
- great listening skills in order to fully understand the clients’ requirements and/or the designer’s instructions.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Prioritizing and planning work activities in order to manage time efficiently in order to comply with deadlines.
- Analytical skills:
- Approaching tasks in a reliable and resourceful manner; and
- being able to calculate required materials and costs.
- Exceptional attention to detail.
- Continual focus on safety and client satisfaction:
- Wearing respirators, safety boots, safety goggles, and ear protection.
- Self-motivated, self-disciplined, and persistent:
- Being able to work independently with minimal supervision.
- Manual dexterity, motor coordination, and physical strength:
- Displaying good hand skills with a high regard for neat workmanship;
- being able to lift or carry heavy objects; and
- being able to stand, crouch, kneel, and crawl for extensive periods of time.
Aside from the skills listed above, Furniture Makers need to be both creative and practical. A formal education isn’t required to enter this career. However, many Furniture Makers enter the profession through an apprenticeship with an established designer or a furniture company and learn their skills on-the-job. Many trade schools and design institutions also offer relevant courses in subjects such as upholstery, carpentry, and computer-aided design (CAD).
Most Furniture Makers aspire to work on a freelance basis and eventually start their own furniture companies or design consultancies. With enough experience and training, a Furniture Maker could become a Workshop Supervisor or a Quality Control Inspector, or even a Furniture or Product Designer.
Furniture Makers usually work in a studio or workshop with all the necessary space and tools to carry out their jobs. They could also work in a factory that mass produces identical furniture pieces every day with other people operating industrial machinery. In some cases, Furniture Makers may be required to travel to see clients in their houses or to source wood and other materials. The work can be physically tiring due to the fact that it involves long hours of standing up, as well as a high level of concentration when working with dangerous tools and sensitive materials.
Networking is essential in this profession in order to build a client base and to maintain it when working independently; reputation is everything in this line of work. It’s important for Furniture Makers to know how to sell their work and abilities. Trade fairs are a very useful source to find new contacts and clients. Developing additional practical skills may also be very helpful in order to make progress in this profession, particularly when working freelance.