We at North Bennet Street School are deeply saddened by the passing of Phil Lowe CF '74, a master furniture maker, entrepreneur, teacher, mentor, and dear friend to all. His legacy is second to none, and includes not only the fine work he produced over 50+ years, but also the generations of woodworkers who he guided in the craft. We remember Phil here.
Cabinet & Furniture Making
Our two-year Cabinet & Furniture Making program teaches fine craftsmanship through projects incorporating 18th- and 19th-century furniture examples. With these traditional models as a foundation, you’ll be able to design and build furnishings of any era you choose.
As a custom furniture maker at NBSS, you’ll learn how to use and maintain both hand tools and power equipment. You’ll estimate costs, choose materials, and prepare working drawings for each project. You’ll cut various joints, turn, carve, and bend wood, apply marquetry or veneers. You’ll develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence necessary to create thoughtful furniture pieces to exacting standards.
The expansive program space includes a large bench room, demonstration area, library, lathe room, and finishing room. Students take regular field trips to view private and museum collections, and to visit the shops of prominent local woodworkers.
- Cabinet & Furniture Making program brochure: Download at-a-glance details.
- Admissions Info: How to get your application started and what you need to apply.
- Financial Aid: We're dedicated to helping you afford the cost of your education. Learn about our financial aid options.
- ACCSC Graduate & Employment Data: View the 2018 Report here.
DAN FAIA CF ’94
Dan is a graduate of the program and the Department Head. He teaches in both our Full-Time program and Continuing Education courses, in addition to running a custom furniture shop in New Hampshire. Before he joined our faculty, Dan worked with Phil Lowe CF ’74 and Ron Trapasso CF ’69, both master craftsmen. Dan has published numerous articles in Fine Woodworking Magazine.
STEVE BROWN CF ’90
Steve is a graduate of our program and teaches in both the Full-Time program and Continuing Education (CE) classes. Steve worked with Phil Lowe CF ’74 at Makers of Fine Furniture in Beverly, MA, before joining us. His work has been shown in galleries and published in the Fine Woodworking Design Book, and many museum and private collections feature Steve’s restoration work. He lectures throughout the Boston area and has developed several programs for our CE courses.
LANCE PATTERSON CF ’79
Lance is a 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. Lance was recently named a 2016 Mentor in Design by Design New England Magazine.
MATT WAJDA CF '01
Matt is an NBSS graduate and long-time NBSS Continuing Education instructor. He joined the full-time program faculty in 2017. Matt has also served as an instructor at The Windsor Institute and Penland School of Craft. He's a long-time member of the Guild of New Hampshire Woodworkers and a contributor to Fine Woodworking Magazine's video series. Matt founded River City Woodworking in 2001, which produces high-end furnishings and millwork for residential and commercial clients.
GUEST LECTURERS & INSTRUCTORS
In addition to the regular faculty, we often have established artisans and historians visit the School to lead workshops. Some of our recent guests include:
We accept qualified applicants throughout the year. The program is extremely competitive and fills quickly, so you should apply as early as possible. Successful applicants usually have demonstrated hand skills, some previous woodworking experience is also helpful.
- Students are admitted in September and February.
- Classes meet 8:00 am - 3:00 pm, Monday - Friday, September through May.
- The program length is two, nine-month academic years (72 weeks or 2340 class hours*).
- The maximum enrollment is 39 students.
- Students who complete the program receive a Diploma of Cabinet & Furniture Making.
* Class hours equals clock hours
Tuition & Costs
- September 2020-July 2021 tuition is $25,000 per year totaling $50,000*, with the option of making 18 monthly payments of $2,778.
- The estimated cost of hand tools is $4,000.
- The estimated cost of materials is $3,500.
- The estimated cost of transportation, room, and board for optional trips is $300.
* 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.
Graduates of our Cabinet & Furniture Making program work in a wide variety of careers, from running independent custom shops, to conserving pieces in historic collections, to working for larger manufacturers, contractors, or designers.
Our alumni write articles and books on furniture making, they present at shows and conferences, and they help educate the next generation as faculty of woodworking programs and schools. Notably, the Society of Period American Furniture Makers has presented the prestigious Cartouche Award to four of our graduates, and to the School as well.
Some of our graduates have worked as:
- Furniture conservators at national museums
- Furniture and prototype makers for high-end furniture manufacturers
- Owners of furniture design and building shops
- Managers of residential renovations for top designers and architects
- Construction managers for 9000 sqft apartment building
- Lead carpenters, site superintendents, and senior project managers
- Antique furniture restorers and furniture builders
- Restoration carpenters
- Woodworking teachers
- Managers of cabinet shops for custom home builders
- Installers for high-end kitchens for custom designers
- Architectural woodworkers
- Boat builders and yacht interior joiners
- Board drafters for period residential furniture
- Cabinet Department Supervisors
- Prototype Makers
- Design Associates for high-end interior designers
- Managers of Product Engineering
Below we’ve gathered general information on wages, salaries, and industry growth for cabinet and furniture makers. Keep in mind that job classifications from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) do not exactly match the skills you’ve learned at the School.
The closest DOL job classification is “Woodworking,” which includes mass production/unskilled workers and subcategories like model makers and patternmakers; woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders; furniture finishers; and cabinetmakers and bench carpenters.
The information below is from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Woodworkers held about 237,200 jobs in 2014.
- 98,100 were cabinetmakers and bench carpenters
- 17,100 were furniture finishers
- 122,100 were machine setters, operators, and tenders.
Employment of woodworkers is expected to change by less than 1% during the 2014-24 decade. In general, opportunities will be better for highly skilled woodworkers than for those with specialties susceptible to automation and competition from imported wood products.
For more detailed information, see the U.S. Department of Labor Statistics about Woodworkers.
SALARY AND WAGE DATA
There are many factors that determine specific salaries, including education, training, years and type of experience, and others. Payscale estimates that in 2016, woodworkers with 5 or more years of experience made an average salary of $43,570. The median salary for woodworkers (of all experience levels) working employers was $49,298. The median salary for contract woodworkers was $29,000. For more detailed information, visit the Payscale website.
Alex Krutsky CF '81, a Cabinet & Furniture Making graduate from 1981 and long-time Instructor, passed away in early October. Alex was a valued member of the NBSS and wider community as a teacher, furniture maker, mentor, colleague, shop mate, and friend. His impact as a mentor cannot be measured, and he will be dearly missed by those of us who were fortunate enough to know him.
Steve Brown CF '90, a trustee and longtime member at the historic First Congregational Church of Essex and an instructor in our Cabinet & Furniture Making program, donated his time and woodworking experience to help restore the Church's steeple—so that they could also get their historic Paul Revere bell ringing again. Steve's role was to build the 10-piece timber-frame cradle that holds the bell inside the steeple's belfry. He had never done timber framing before, but he realized it was a lot like furniture making, albeit on a much larger scale.
Cabinet & Furniture Making alumna Aspen Golann CF '19 was recently a guest on GBH's Open Studio program with Jared Bowen in October 2020. She discusses feminism in her furniture and plans for the Mineck Furniture Fellowship she was recently awarded. Watch the interview here.