Building furniture is something almost anyone can do, but creating pieces that look professionally made is a whole different story. DIY furniture definitely has its charms, but unless it’s well-made and functional, you just basically wasted the money you could use to buy furniture in a store. Here, we will explore what it takes to make furniture pieces that are not only functional and useful, but that look like they were made by a pro.
Make sure you measure everything right
First things first, when building furniture, you need to make sure you get all the measurements right before you actually start cutting the material. There’s nothing more anticlimactic than noticing that you were constantly a couple of centimetres off only once you assemble – or try to assemble – the mentioned piece. Therefore, when measuring, make sure you account for the thickness of the material itself, the thickness of the blade, as well as any corners and curves, to avoid ending up with furniture piece elements that simply won’t fit in with each other.
This step is particularly important, especially if you’re making furniture pieces with attached doors. If you fail to check the squares, chances are that none of the doors will sit properly, which will make your piece look wobbly and out of balance. The easiest ways to do this is to take a tape measure and measure the distance between the two opposite outside corners. Write down the number and measure the other two corners the same way. These two numbers should match because if they don’t, that means that your piece is not properly centred. The only downside is that if you notice that the squares are off, there’s really not much you can do about it at this point. That’s why measuring everything right is so important.
Use the right tools
Now, when building furniture is concerned, do keep in mind that a simple hand saw and a couple of sheets of sandpaper just won’t be enough. Therefore, make sure you have all the necessary equipment, such as precise measuring tools, hand saw and router (or a trusted automatic saw if you are thinking about a more serious furniture production), power jointer and thickness planer – to name a few, right at your disposal. Of course, you’ll also need sandpaper and other “smaller” pieces of equipment, but you’ll need them much later in the process.
Keep the blade width in mind when cutting
Another important thing to mention is the (saw) blade width. When cutting up the piece you’ve previously mapped out, position the blade on the scrap side of the line. This way, you might be left with a bit of excess material you can easily sand down, instead of making the piece a few millimetres narrower than it should be.
Take care of any imperfections
Professionally built furniture pieces usually have very few imperfections that are almost impossible to notice. Therefore, make sure all of the edges of your piece are squared, which will make them fit in perfectly with the rest of the elements. Next, make sure you fill any holes and cracks with putty or epoxy before you get down to painting.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is expecting that the paint will fill these small imperfections. Once you mask them out and let the epoxy completely dry up, sad down the entire piece and clean it thoroughly before painting it. This will give it a clean, smooth finish, making look like something made by a true pro.
As you can see, building professionally looking furniture requires precision and careful planning. However, no matter how careful you are, chances are that you won’t be able to get it right the first time around. But don’t let this discourage you because, as with everything else in life, practice makes perfect.
By Lillian Connors