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.
Schedule & Curriculum
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 37 students.
- Students who complete the program receive a Diploma of Cabinet & Furniture Making.
* Class hours equals clock hours
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 DOL lists the job classifications “Cabinetmakers and Bench Carpenters,” and “Furniture Finishers.”
The DOL classifies Cabinetmakers and Bench Carpenters this way:
Cut, shape, and assemble wooden articles or set up and operate a variety of woodworking machines, such as power saws, jointers, and mortisers to surface, cut, or shape lumber or to fabricate parts for wood products.
The DOL classifies Furniture Finishers this way:
Shape, finish, and refinish damaged, worn, or used furniture or new high-grade furniture to specified color or finish.
The DOL also includes the job classification “Woodworking,” which includes mass production/unskilled workers and subcategories like model makers and patternmakers; woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders.
The information below is from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Cabinetmakers and Bench Carpenters held about 93,070 jobs as of May 2021.
- Furniture Finishers held about 16,300 jobs as of May 2021.
Employment of cabinetmakers and bench carpenters is expected to rise 8.8% during the 2020-30 decade. Employment of furniture finishers is expected to rise 5.8% during the 2020-30 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 Cabinetmakers and Bench Carpenters, Furniture Finishers, and Woodworkers.
There are many factors that determine specific salaries, including education, training, years and type of experience, and others.
The Department of Labor (DOL) estimates that in 2021:
- The median salary for cabinet and bench carpenters was $40,070 and the hourly wage was $19.27.
- The median salary for furniture finishers was $37,310 and the hourly wage was $17.94.
- The median salary for woodworkers was $36,710 per year and the hourly wage $17.65.
For more detailed information, visit the DOL website.
Meet Our Alumni
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:
- David Calvo, an expert carver
- Peter Follansbee, a 17th-century joinery expert
- Ellen Kaspern CF ’03, a graduate, custom furniture maker, and machine woodworking expert
- David Wood, a curator for Concord Museum
- John McCormack CF ’88, a cabinet maker and graduate of the School
- Peter Galbert, master chairmaker
- Abbie Smith CF ’19, a graduate and custom furniture maker who excels at marquetry
Open House 2022!
From nine career training programs to dozens of community classes, we offer something for everyone! Join us December 7-9 for live demonstrations, program tours, conversations with artisans, and more.
Explore the Facilities
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.
2020 Cabinet & Furniture Making Graduate & Employment Report
- This data represents 16 total Cabinet & Furniture Making students who started the program in February 2017 and had an intended graduation date of February 2019, or who started the program in September 2017 and had an intended graduation date of June 2019.
- 63% of the students in these cohorts graduated in 2019.
- 100% of these graduates are employed in the field.
- This data was officially reported to ACCSC in October 2020.
2021 Cabinet & Furniture Making Graduate & Employment Report
- This data represents 21 total Cabinet & Furniture Making students who started the program in February 2018 and had an intended graduation date of February 2020, or who started the program in September 2018 and had an intended graduation date of June 2020.
- 76% of the students in these cohorts graduated in 2020.
- 75% of these graduates are employed in the field.
- This data was officially reported to ACCSC in October 2021.
This disclosure is required by our accreditors, the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools & Colleges (ACCSC).
For each of our career training programs, we consult with a group of top professionals in the field to ensure our curriculum continues to meet industry needs and trends.
The Cabinet & Furniture Making Program Advisors are:
- Eli Cleveland CF ’09
- Janet Collins CF ‘97
- William Doub CF ’74
- Sean Fisher CF ’94
- Brian Kelly CF ’84
- Gregory Porfido CF ’89
Contact Rob O’Dwyer, Director of Admissions, at 617-227-0155 x111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.