At first glance, a fine piece of furniture can look almost impossible to make. How do you become a master furniture maker? Simply by starting. Historically, furniture makers were trained (like other trades) through long apprenticeships where students learned step-by-step from masters who had developed their own considerable skills in a similar arrangement, passing down all they had learned. At NBSS, we respect the lessons of the past. Our highly experienced and passionate faculty members are experts in their field, eager to pass on what they've learned to the next generation of furniture makers.
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, and finishing room. Students take regular field trips to view private and museum collections, and to visit the shops of prominent local woodworkers.
- Curriculum: Investigate what students learn over the course of the two-year program.
- Facilities: Virtually walk through the program space and bench room.
- Faculty: Meet our talented instructors, who are experts in their field.
- Tuition: Check out tuition, costs, class hours, schedule, and program length.
- Careers: Explore the wide variety of careers available to Cabinet & Furniture Making graduates and the employment outlook.
- Profiles: Read about our alumni, including how an education at NBSS opened doors for them.
- Cabinet & Furniture Making program brochure: Download at-a-glance details.
Admissions, Financial Aid, and Employment Information
- 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.
The new Home Base National Center of Excellence in Charlestown helps at-risk veterans and military families regain the lives they once had. When the clinical facility needed help with the design and execution of its reception desk, it turned to NBSS. Three alumni of the School who are military veterans – Brennan Simpson CF '18, Matt Frechette CA '16, CF '18, and Charles Strong CF '18 – took on the project. The design and materials of the desk are inspired by the USS Constitution, which is berthed at the Charlestown Navy Yard next to the new Home Base building.
NBSS alumni Jason Krivelow CF '16 and Brendan Sullivan CF '18 are carrying on the time-honored craft of boat building at Boston Boatworks, which builds semi-custom boats for clients all over the world. Jason and Brendan both credit NBSS with providing them knowledge of how to use and maintain woodworking machines, and the mastery of hand tools. These talents set them apart at Boston Boatworks, and help make them invaluable team members.
Most museums caution visitors not to touch the exhibits. Students from the Cabinet & Furniture Making program are encouraged to do just the opposite, however, on their biennial field trips to Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library in Delaware. This past spring, long-time NBSS Instructor Steve Brown CF '90 led his ninth field trip to the museum, where students spent two days getting an up-close look at objects from what is perhaps the largest collection of American period furniture in the world.
Our Cabinet & Furniture Making students craft new pieces of furniture using historic designs as their guide, but every once in a while, they are asked to recreate an exact replica of a historic piece. In 2013, two then-current students reproduced the writing desk and chest of drawers used by renowned poet Emily Dickinson. Woodworker's Journal revisited the story in their March/April 2019 issue, relating this one-of-a-kind opportunity for graduates Boyd Allen CF '13 and Caleb Schultz CF '13.
For Beth Ann (BA) Harrington CF '95, carpentry was the family business. Being the daughter, granddaughter, and sister of carpenters inspired a career in woodworking and furniture making, and she is nurturing a new generation of woodworkers through teaching others. While her life and career have taken her in many directions, BA's dedication to NBSS remains a constant. "I've been to many schools, but North Bennet Street School will always have that sense of alma mater and hallowed halls for me," she says. "Foundationally, everything I do in my practice and my teaching comes from NBSS. That's why I believe it is so important to give back."
"The best part of my education was finding myself in the craft. I was developing technical skills and my own personal style in tandem."
Aspen Golann CF '19View More Cabinet & Furniture Making Alumni Profiles