Recognized as one of the premier woodworking schools in the country, North Bennet Street School (NBSS) teaches the time-honored skills, ideas and values of fine craftsmanship through rigorous hands-on training in Cabinet and Furniture Making. The two-year Cabinet and Furniture Making program attracts students who share a passion for materials, creative and problem-solving processes and working with their hands to build, repair and reproduce custom pieces that last for generations to come.
In addition to the full-time program, North Bennet Street School offers short courses and workshops in cabinet and furniture making. Click here to search the workshop catalogue.
Custom furniture makers design and build a wide variety of furnishings. The work requires a thorough knowledge of furniture construction including proficiency in the use of hand tools and power equipment and an understanding of processes and procedures used for each furniture type. In this program, students learn how to:
•Use and maintain hand tools.
•Operate stationary power equipment effectively and safely.
•Layout and cut various woodworking joints by hand and machine.
•Use furniture ornamentation techniques such as turning, carving, moldings and veneering with a special emphasis on techniques used in traditional American and English furniture.
•Layout and install furniture hardware.
•Sand, stain, fill, finish and polish furniture pieces.
•Service and maintain all of the power equipment encountered in a small woodworking shop.
•Prepare full-size working drawings for each project.
•Estimate costs and select materials.
At the beginning of the program, students complete a series of exercises and projects including drafting assignments, benchwork, basic machine operation and fundamental hand skills using planes, chisels and turning.
The first significant project is the construction of a tool chest based on an approved drawing that satisfies certain design constraints. Students then design and construct at least one example of a table, a chair, and another piece of case work. These pieces are typically based on traditional 18th and 19th century furniture designs because the traditional models require the hand-skills and woodworking techniques that are the foundation of the NBSS curriculum. Students are encouraged to challenge themselves to learn new techniques and skills in each project they select and execute.
The Cabinet and Furniture Making shop includes a library, drafting facilities, three bench rooms and the range of machinery that is typically found in both a large and smaller-scale woodworking shops. Guest lectures and field trips to museums and the shops of prominent local woodworkers enhance the educational experience.
Dan is a 1994 graduate of the program and the department head. He teaches in both NBSS’s full-time and workshop programs and runs a custom furniture shop in New Hampshire. Dan has designed the curriculum for several extended workshops including the current three-month intensive course. Prior to joining the NBSS faculty, he worked with Phil Lowe '74 and Ron Traposso '69, both master craftsmen. When Dan isn't making furniture or teaching, he enjoys writing and has published numerous articles in Fine Woodworking Magazine.
Steve, a 1990 graduate of the program, teaches in both the full-time and workshop program. Before he came to NBSS full-time, Steve worked with Phil Lowe ’74, Makers of Fine Furniture, in Beverly, Massachusetts, making new furniture and restoring antiques. Steve’s work has been shown in galleries and published in the Fine Woodworking Design Book. His restoration work is included in the collections of museums and private clients. Steve lectures throughout the Boston area and has developed several workshop programs for NBSS.
Alex is a 1981 graduate of the program and a member of Fort Point Cabinetmakers. He teaches part time and works on commission designing and building a wide range of projects from furniture to custom interiors.
Lance is a 1979 graduate of the program and a founding member of Boston’s Fort Point Cabinetmakers cooperative. He has designed and built custom furniture for over 30 years. He is also a large format photographer and a contributor to Fine Woodworking Magazine.
Read NBSS faculty profiles here.
Contact the department by email.
Guest lecturers and instructors
In addition to the regular faculty, established artisans and historians regularly visit the program to demonstrate and lead workshops. Recent guests include master carver David Calvo, 17th-century joinery expert Peter Follansbee, NBSS graduate and furniture restorer Michael Patrick Wheeler, CF '77, Concord Museum curator David Wood, and NBSS graduate and cabinet maker John McCormack, CF '88.
Cabinet and Furniture Making graduates work as employees or for themselves in fields such as custom furniture making, architectural millwork, and furniture repair and restoration. Some become teachers and many are employers and mentors to the next generation of NBSS graduates. Read more about cabinet and furniture making careers here.
Click here for the school's gainful employment report [pdf].
NBSS offers rolling admissions and accepts qualified applicants throughout the year. Cabinet and Furniture Making offers enrollment in both the Fall and Spring. Since the program is extremely competitive and fills quickly, it is to your advantage to plan ahead and apply early. Most successful applicants have demonstrated hand skills and previous woodworking experience. Learn more about the admissions process.
HOURS OF INSTRUCTION, TUITION, TOOLS AND MATERIALS
- Classes meet 8:00 am - 3:00 pm, Monday - Friday, September through May.
- The course length is two, nine-month academic years (72 weeks or 2340 class hours***).
- New classes start in September and February.
- The tuition is $22,500* per year totaling $45,000**, with the option of making 18 monthly payments of $2,500.
- The maximum course size is 39 students.
- The Estimated cost of hand tools is $1,500.
- The estimated cost of materials is $2,000.
- Students who complete the program receive a Diploma of Cabinet and Furniture Making.
*The tuition rate is for students entering North Bennet Street School between September 2013 and June 2014.
**North Bennet Street School reserves the right to increase tuition in the second and subsequent years of a course. If the school does increase tuition for a course in subsequent years, that increase will not exceed 7.5% of the previous year’s tuition. Should the school exercise its right to increase tuition, the school must give the student a minimum of ninety (90) days written notice prior to the effective date of the increase and a new enrollment agreement will be executed.
*** Class hours equals clock hours.