You've got some time to work on that next DIY project. Your excitement starts to grow as you think of the woodworking projects that you can complete.
But when you start searching, you get so frustrated trying to find that 'perfect' set of woodworking plans. This one is just not right, or that one is too simple or complex.
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In this article, we'll first take through many (though not all) of the most popular types of furniture styles. What makes them unique and what principles or philosophies underpin their design will also be covered.
Then we provide you a rough idea of different categories of woodworking plans and what they require. Finally, we give you a brief rundown of some of the most popular woodworking projects and how they can add value to your life.
We've even added a great quick navigation feature to make it easy for you due to the massive size of this ultimate guide to woodworking projects and plans! :)
Types of Furniture Styles:
We Love All 21 of Them
What are the different types of furniture?
Which types of furniture are the most popular?
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We provide those answers and more, just keep reading!
Art Deco Style Furniture
Art Deco style furniture has a fairly intellectual base, so you should probably consider its deeper meanings before setting out to create a piece of furniture modeled in its style.
Of course, there is no prerequisite to do so, and you are more than welcome to simply make a piece of Art Deco furniture because you like it.
If you ever rise to any degree of prominence, you will likely be expected to explain your design choices. In this case, understanding some of the influences and motivations around the style’s development. Its intended meanings can only serve to bolster the renown of your creations.
Art Deco furniture began as an offshoot of different avant grade styles created in the early 20th century. Drawing on a feeling of hope following World War I, or “the War to end all wars,” designers sought to embody that feeling in everyday objects.
As such, Art Deco become known for its bright colors and bold designs which prominently feature sharp contrasts.
Having not yet entered the postmodern age of doubt and skepticism--though showing signs of critical questioning, many of the utopian ideals of the Modern Era still held sway even while the style often eschewed elements of traditionalism that stifled free expression.
However, this took the form a neoclassical forms superimposed with modern, baroque designs. Intricate inlays and a throwback to regal patterns became once again in vogue.
Rich, lacquered wood finishes also became popular in an effort to bring out the natural beauty of the world. Another carry over from the optimism of the time.
Art Deco also saw the use of metals, particularly brass, copper, and gold. Moreover, a blending of metal and wooden materials within a single piece was also quite common. Leather upholstery also made a strong appearance on furniture where people would sit.
Arts and Crafts Style Furniture
Though occurring just before and during the early stages of the Art Deco movement, the Arts and Crafts style of furniture can be rightfully seen as an almost dimetric juxtaposition of the Art Deco style. Where Art Deco was decadent, even opulent, Arts and Crafts sought to highlight the sheer quality of the pieces being made.
Where Art Deco sought to highlight the hybridization of society and culture though the mixture of styles separated by large distances of space and time, Arts and Crafts generally honored tradition and the techniques which had shown over the course of history to produce the highest quality standards.
Still, this does not mean that Arts and Crafts simply stood as a pean onto the rigid, hierarchical social structures of yore.
Instead, Arts and Crafts could be said to be a more rebellious and socially liberating style as its focus allowed the common person to rise just as prominently as the educated elite. So long as the work was of a equal or better quality.
Moreover, where much of Art Deco often required an eclectic understanding of diverse artistic movements from a variety of places and cultures--a luxury often afforded only to the elite.
Arts and Crafts simply required a masterful understanding of traditional, timeless techniques--such as those which could be passed down from generation to generation, regardless one’s social stature.
In part as a reaction to the blind advances of industrial manufacturing, Arts and Crafts seeks to present a far more simplistic design.
This style often prefers to use premium materials and advocates for highlighting the natural materials themselves rather than presenting an ostentatious display without an understanding of the object being ornamented.
Arts and Crafts furniture places a premium on comfort, durability, and functionality. The idea that a good piece of furniture should be passed down through the generations and serve just as well for each proceding generation is a direct concept of this style.
This style generally uses dense woods and is made by hand--without the use of machinery. The lines will often be straight and joint at 90 degrees.
When curves are called for, they will be simple, geometric arches. Upholstery should always be made from high quality natural materials and, if dyed, with natural colors.
Asian Style Furniture
While it may appear vastly different in appearance to Arts and Crafts style, the Asian style of furniture is as philosophically similar to the Arts in Crafts style as the Arts and Crafts style is different from Art Deco. However, the origins and the actual designs themselves are far the same.
Still, the same attention to quality, nature, and tradition run through both styles. Much like Arts and Crafts, Asian style furniture derives its techniques from centuries of practice as they were passed down from generation to generation.
Also like Art and Crafts, the Asian style of furniture places a premium on natural materials. This includes exotic hardwoods with a thick, lacquer finish and natural fibers, especially silk and linen, for upholstery.
Continuing the trend, Asian style furniture also shares a preference for either straight lines with right angle or simple arches. Though the Asian style will dip a bit further into more organically shaped arches than Arts and Crafts is known for.
Finally, while Asian style furniture may be willing to add a bit more in the way or ornamentation, it is still solidly characterized by a simple, sleek appearance.
However, Asian style furniture exhibits some notable departures from Arts and Crafts as well. For one, while the Asian style does generally prefer a simple finish, there will usually be one or two pieces of design that are made more ornate to stand out against the rest of the motif.
Asian furniture is far more likely than Arts and Crafts to mix wood and metals--or even wood and stone or stone and metals--together to create a striking, yet elegant, contrast.
In this regard, the differences have a great deal to do with the philosophy of the styles. While Arts and Crafts saw to return from the excesses of the Western elite and the coarse skills of industrial manufacturing, Asian style was a direct appeal to the Eastern elite.
It can be said that the Eastern elite never lost sight of what the Arts and Crafts style was trying to remind the western elite.
Coastal Style Furniture
Much like the two previous styles, Art Deco and Asian, Coastal furniture style also follows a pattern of simplicity. However, the philosophy behind Coastal style furniture is far different than either Arts and Crafts or Asian.
Instead, of preferring simplicity as a sign of refined taste, the Coastal style opts for simplicity so as to allow the eye to focus on other sights.
In this regard, the Coastal furniture could almost be said to take Arts and Crafts to its logical conclusion. By that, we mean that where Arts and Crafts sought to allow the natural beauty of the materials speak for themselves, the Coastal style prefers to let nature herself speak.
As such, Coastal style furniture will often be found in locations with large windows that let a great deal of natural light in while also providing a breathtaking view.
When you have the beauty and majesty of the ocean, how can your chaise hope to compare? In this vein, though, like the two preceding styles, Coastal style furniture will generally feature simple lines and natural materials.
However, this style will also opt for less bold finishes than Arts and Crafts or Asian. In another twist, Coastal style is not afraid to use bolder colors--especially with fabrics and upholstery--including deep turquoise, coral, and bright blues.
Still, these will serve as accents, while the general palette will hover between different medium shades of neutral colors. In this regard, warmth is generally favored over cool tones.
Another distinction of the Coastal style is the willingness to use a rougher hewn look to serve as a textural accent. However, curves will almost always be soft and not truly enter the realm of a true arch.
While some cooler stone may be used, especially with tables, metals are unlikely to make an appearance joined with wood.
Contemporary Style Furniture
Whereas the three previous styles focused on simplicity to either highlight the craft of the maker or the natural beauty of the furniture and the world itself, Contemporary style furniture takes a different approach to simplicity.
If you were to compare, it would be more akin to the coastal philosophy, though not necessarily the design. Ultimately, Contemporary style furniture may even verge on the edge of “minimal.” Still, contemporary will evolve throughout the ages and does not actually represent a single style.
In fact, numerous qualities about the Contemporary furniture and even the philosophy of the art scene from which it sprang all carry tell-tale hallmarks of minimalism. One area where Contemporary style strikes a sharp contrast with the previous styles that focused on simplicity is with materials.
For contemporary styles, no material or material combination is truly out of bounds.
You can find wood, metal, stone, and even class on Contemporary style furniture. However, these materials will often be the primary accent to the material if even that.
Another contrast that Contemporary style makes with the three preceding simple styles is with lines. Contemporary is far less concerned with straight lines and right angles. Now, you are likely to find plenty of straight lines and right angles on contemporary furniture.
In fact, the majority of lines will often be straight. However, you are just as likely to find soft curves--especially if their purpose is to soften the straight lines and right angles actually present. Still, the curves themselves will be simple and geometric in nature.
Still, there are also distinct similarities, especially in color. Contemporary style furniture will generally hover around the natural and neutral colors. Though it will stay closer to the muted neutrals of the Coastal style than the bold lacquers of Arts and Crafts or Asian style.
This is taken to the extreme, unlike the occasional Coastal style splash, where bold color is used for accessories and rarely on the furniture itself.
Country Style Furniture
The Country style of furniture is arguably one of the first, truly American styles, dating back all the way to the later 1700s. For you history buffs out there, this is around the time that America became America in the first place.
This style was not truly “popular” in its day. In fact, the American elite of the late 18th and early 19th centuries preferred the Georgian English style, also known as the English Country style.
The English Country style of furniture was ornate to say the least. If fact it was the continued evolution of this decadent style that was partly responsible for the backlash that occurred in the Arts and Crafts style.
Though Arts and Crafts could be said to have been a backlash against a variety of ornate and industrialized styles. Including the French Country and Victorian style which came to overtake even the English Country in prominence.
The Country furniture is kind of like a hybrid between the Coastal and the Rustic styles. Much like the Rustic Style, Country style furniture will feature a lot of woods.
Especially oak and pine, which will be finished in warmer colors. Though not quite as rich and bold as the Rustic style generally favors. Moreover, the Country style will also feature distresses to give the appearance of wear and tear.
On the other hand, much like the Coastal style, Country style will feature relatively simple furniture that focuses on form more than function.
What skews the Country style more towards Coastal and not Arts and Crafts is that the Country style, while simple, does have the same aversion to manufactured pieces. Nor is it adverse to the occasional bold accent of color.
This is another element the Country and Coastal styles share, though Country furniture will generally lean more towards colors found in the country. Rich yellows, deep bright reds, pale or dark greens.
Eclectic Style Furniture
Much like contemporary, the Eclectic style of furniture is not actually its own distinct style. By that, we mean there is no piece of furniture that you can point to and state “that is Eclectic style furniture.” Instead, the Eclectic style is defined more by the entire interior design motif.
Even here, you are not truly able to pin down a specific standard of the Eclectic style. This is because the Eclectic’s style chief defining characteristic is a blending of arbitrary styles as suits the individual’s tastes.
As such, it is perfectly acceptable to combine a Rustic coffee table with two French Country chairs and an Art Deco couch. Conversely, you could mix a Modern sofa with a Shabby Chic recliner and two Moroccan end tables.
The point is that there are no limits. Accept those of good taste, and even then, so long as you are satisfied with the look and the feel, there are no hard and fast rules.
That being said, this makes the Eclectic style furniture the most diverse when making furniture. Eclectic furniture can be handmade or machine made. In fact, Eclectic furniture can be found furniture or just slightly repurposed.
While it requires little to no effort on the woodworker’s part, taking the large, leather backseat out of an old Cadillac could almost be a quintessential example of the Eclectic style.
When setting out to make a piece of Eclectic furniture, consider the fabrics first and foremost. As a style which hinges on sharp contrasts and juxtaposition, the fabric can often be a focal point to provide the conceit which will define the theme.
The titular character of “The Big Lebowski” would be said to employ an Eclectic style to his home furnishings especially noted by how the rug of his living room “really tied room together.”
When setting down to make a piece of furniture that is intended to be a part of an Eclectic motif, the important thing to remember is that it should be distinctly different in either time period or cultural origin. Or both to every other piece of furniture in the entire room.
One way to maintain continuity is to consider a single quality of the furniture. Be it materials, color scheme, texture, or lines. And have it run through multiple rooms or even the entire house.
English Country Style Furniture
English Country is a sharp break from most of the styles we have previously reviewed. More akin to the Victorian style, which is also an evolution of this style, the English Country style furniture can also be called the Georgian style, after King George III.
This style became explicitly defined well after the inspiration occurred. In fact, English Country is actually a relatively recent style--in its current manifestation--even if the source materials and design principles of individual pieces all originated centuries ago.
In some ways, English Country furniture can be seen as similar to the Eclectic style, except that English Country will place a far greater emphasis on thematic cohesion within each given room. Still, the willingness to combine a variety of materials, lines, fabrics, patterns, and colors runs through both the Eclectic and English Country styles.
Both styles are often focused through the application of fabrics in particular.
However, whereas the Eclectic style can confidently throw the kitchen sink at a room, English Country does stick with a handful of principles that are more common than not.
First, the fabrics of English Country are usually an ornately printed chintz. This fabric can be of almost any color, though exceedingly bold colors are far more rare on upholstery. Instead, muted, warm colors are preferred. Moreover, the fabric’s print will often utilize a floral pattern or something which is busy without truly drawing the eye.
Woods will generally run in the rich and dense variety. Mahogany and walnut are common and often mixed together.
Metals inlays or other ornamental touches are more than welcome with the English Country style as is leather. The metals should generally run along the warmer hues of bronze, copper, and the like. Silver or chrome is not a part of this style, nor is glass really.
French Style Furniture
Though similar in many respects the French style, or French Country style, will differ from the English Country style in some important ways. While both styles are noted for their use of ornamentation and a reliance on fabrics to define the theme, French Country can be said to be more understated.
More elegant than English Country style. Where English Country relies on exceedingly striking and busy patterns, French Country is far more likely to utilize a tasteful pattern with some movement.
But not to the point that the eye is overwhelmed into an unfocused submission like with English Country.
Instead, French Country style furniture prefers to see the theme as a gestalt where each piece’s contribution is both unique and tied into the fundamental elements of each other piece. In this regard, it is not at all uncommon to find numerous materials included in French Country style furniture.
There are no real hard lines drawn with woods used. Though, a distressed or unfinished look is often preferred. It's not at all uncommon to find wrought iron pieces as well. Still, the woods themselves will often be a naturally dark wood as opposed to the paler varieties.
Color can run a fairly large spectrum as well, though, much like the English Country style, will often run along the warmer hues. Unlike English Country, the French style will not employ contrasting color schemes with multiple shades of different primary colors like the English Country style.
Instead, the French style will select warmer shades of similar hues and accent them with tastefully selected neutrals.
While the French style does share many characteristic with the English Country, its philosophy of design might be more appropriately seen as similar to Shabby Chic. Where Shabby Chic might tone down the statement made by the furniture, French Country will definitely play it up.
Regardless, both styles have a preference for rich fabrics and distressed woods. Though, French Country furniture is far more willing to utilize bolder color design but shy a bit further away from some of the busy patterns Shabby Chic may employ.
Mediterranean Style Furniture
Though French Country actually takes a number of cues and influences from the Mediterranean style, to two are not truly all that similar. In fact, the Mediterranean style is probably more accurately compared to the Coastal style with a bit more flair.
More than just ornamentation, the Mediterranean furniture takes the Coastal much further in regards to most of the qualities that define furniture.
First, the Mediterranean style will employ a wider variety of materials than the Coastal style. In this regard, the Mediterranean hews a bit closer to the french, willing to incorporate metal into the woodworking.
Similar to the French Style, the Mediterranean furniture style has a certain affinity for multiple textures--though, these need not come from the use of a multitude of fabrics like the French style prefers.
Woods will often be dark, heavy, and hard. Moreover, they will utilize a heavy polish or be hand glazed. With this, Mediterranean makes a sharp departure from both Coastal and French styles of furniture.
Once again echoing the french, Mediterranean style will use dark or warm toned metals, including cast iron.
The upholstery will generally not cover the entire piece of furniture, instead allowing plenty of the rich wood to be seen.
The arms and legs of Mediterranean furniture will be thick and feature a great deal of ornamentation. Hand carved arms, legs, and feet with ornate design are common.
Fabrics can run the gamut in terms of weight, though they will generally be of a higher quality. Anything from the depths of velvet to the breeze of linen are common. For color, Mediterranean style will again incorporate a wide range.
The palettes will follow closer to the Coastal style with sea and sky colors of blue and green. Warmer colors of sunlight light yellow and terra cotta are also common.
Of course, varying shades of white often form the neutral base, though brown will creep in to offset some of the warmer hues.
Mid-Century Modern Style Furniture
While it may have originated in the decades following World War I, the Mid-Century Modern style saw its halcyon days in the 50’s and 60s. In fact, this style can be seen as a natural evolution from the Art Deco style that preceded it.
The Mid-Century Modern style furniture saw a return to some of the simplicity visited by the Arts and Crafts style. But it kept many of the more transgressive elements of making a bold statement with more than craftsmanship that Art Deco brought.
In this regard, the Mid-Century Modern style can be seen as a maturing of Art Deco or of Art Deco “growing up.”
Still, Mid-Century Modern furniture kept many of the more iconoclastic elements of design that Art Deco used as a cudgel against the oppression of traditionalism. One of the most striking design qualities directly ported over was a willingness to experiment with line.
Mid-Century Modern style is far more willing to completely eschew the heavy reliance on 90 degree angles and natural curves that most style which preceded it preferred. Instead, Mid-Century Modern style will confidently use organic lines which flow--though generally with a softer curve.
Another element that Mid-Century Modern borrowed from Art Deco was a willingness to use color in bold ways. Where Art Deco was willing to use bright colors and busy patterns, Mid-Century Modern kept only the former.
The busy patterns and sharp contrasts of Art Deco are not nearly as common in Mid-Century Modern, though bold geometric patterns are.
In fact, Mid-Century Modern is far more likely to provide a variety of neutrals and utilize one or two bright colors to accent the design and make it pop. Still, warmer hues are preferred.
In terms of materials, Mid-Century Modern saw a similar willingness to explore in this regard, though arguably more than Art Deco. In part due to advancing technological capability, this was one of the earliest styles that incorporated plastic into its design.
Glass and metal could also be found commonplace in a Mid-Century Modern motif. In fact, wood actually took a backseat with this style.
Mission Style Furniture
The Mission style furniture is more appropriately understood as a subcategory of the Arts and Crafts style. In fact, the Mission style can best be defined as the explicitly American outgrowth and wing of the Arts and Crafts consortium.
As such, both styles will generally follow the same principles and philosophy of design, though the regional specificities may alter some of the materials used and specific design choices favored.
Though often compared to the Shaker style, Mission features a number of differences between the two--not to mention about a century of time apart. Still, there are enough similarities to draw the comparison.
First, both styles rely heavily on attention to detail and craftsmanship. If you are looking to show off your woodworking skills, this is an excellent style to use. The mission style prefers straight lines and right angles.
This makes it a bit easier to construct than styles which incorporate more curves. Even the arches and purely geometric curves of some Arts and Crafts regions.
The Mission style furniture will favor wood--and American woods in particular--over pretty much every other material. Fabrics are rare, but leather is a welcome upholstery materials.
The wood of Mission style furniture is often stained a dark color as is any leather upholstery. Keep in mind, it is perfectly acceptable to make a completely unupholstered chair or bench in the mission style.
If it is not obvious from the choice of materials, dark, neutral colors are preferred. In fact, bright colors are almost anathema to the Mission style as is most forms of ornamentation.
The primary exception to this rule is metal which can be used to accent Mission style pieces of furniture.
However, much like both the Shaker and Arts and Crafts style, extravagant carvings are largely absent from Mission style furniture.
Moreover, the arms and legs of this style will follow a thick, square design to present a far heavier looking style than the Shaker style is known for.
Modern Style Furniture
If Arts and Crafts was a rejection of industrialized, machinated furniture production, the Modern style was the whole-hearted embrace of it.
Still, the Modern style probably has more in common with Art and Crafts than it does the competing style of its day: Art Deco.
Whereas Art Deco often seeks to generate a bold and striking design which catches the eye, the Modern style follows the more subdued philosophy of Arts and Crafts.
In fact, Modern style furniture is definitely a turn to the more minimal elements which were developing in the art scene during the early 20th century up until Mid-Century Modern took its place.
This occurred over a period of time but was squarely established by the 1950s. Still, this evolution highlights one important quality of the Modern style: it was intended to be a break from traditionalism.
The Modern style is not afraid to play with organic shapes and lines--though it might not do so to the extent of Art Deco and will still favor straight lines over curved.
Similarly to Art Deco, the Modern style welcomed the addition of materials that more traditional styles rejected, Glass and plastics become more prominent as did silver colored metals.
The Modern Executive subcategory is a perfect expression of this with the inclusion of glass, metal, and black leather.
Colors generally tend towards the more muted neutrals as is expected from a minimalist school of design. Moreover, patterns are often simple geometric or absent altogether.
Textures will also be subdued, featuring either smooth polished surfaces or simple woven fabrics. This follows from the Modern style’s preference for function over form.
In fact, Modern style furniture does not even place a high priority on comfort, and many of the more commercial or industrial pieces can be said to favor function too far.
In some ways, the Modern style of furniture can be seen as the Platonic ideal of furniture styles with a hint of contrast to breath some kind of life into it.
Moroccan Style Furniture
Moroccan style is far different than anything that has preceded it on this list. In this regard, it shares some similarities with the Asian style in that it is completely different than the majority of western styles we cover.
However, the cultural difference between the various western styles is really where the comparison to Asian styles ends. Instead, Moroccan style brings a fair number of qualities that are unique to it--at least in our list.
This style has its origins in both the North West African region as well as the Moorish influences of Islam.
In terms of the various qualities covered with respect to furniture, the Moroccan style is unabashedly ornate and busy, though not necessarily to the degree of distraction. It's far more willing to use a variety of shapes and lines than many of the western styles allow.
In this regard, the Moroccan style furniture can be seen as similar in some respects to Art Deco, though the individual choices made are far different and reflect an entirely different cultural history.
For instance, both Moroccan and Art Deco styles are partial to patterns, but while the Moroccan style may seem exceedingly busy, its patterns are rooted in the blend of the geometric and organic that is common in Arabic styles.
Another similarity between the two is color, in which both Art Deco and Moroccan styles ooze bold colors, though Moroccan style will favor more saturated tones.
Furthermore, the Moroccan style doesn't necessarily exclude fabrics, but it definitely prefers the more luxurious ones. Plush upholstery is also a more common design choice.
Likewise, the wood used in Moroccan furniture will be rich and often dark in color or stain. The wood will also feature plenty of carving, though a more simple approach is also common.
A multitude of textures is not uncommon--even within a single piece.
Glass and metal are not necessarily as common as in some styles, but it is not rare either--especially with cabinets and tables. Even tile can be found in the Moroccan style.
This will often include a pattern which traces its origin to traditional Arabic and Islamic roots. Still, the Moroccan style will incorporate many elements of the Mediterranean style--including a low profile--though with entirely different designs.
Rustic Style Furniture
The Rustic style is almost like the Country style taken to its logical extreme.
Moreover, if the Coastal style intends to highlight the beauty of nature with a relatively minimal and unobtrusive design, the Rustic style furniture prefers to bring nature indoors where it can be enjoyed from all vantage points--not just looking outside.
In some respects, the Rustic style is similar to Arts and Crafts and in fact immediately preceded it.
With all of this focus on nature, perhaps one of the more surprising qualities of the Rustic style is the sheer breadth of materials at your disposal. Woods, metals, and glass are all fair game.
Moreover, there are few restrictions within this arena--though darker tones are preferred to lighter ones. Still, with the iconic, pale grey Adirondack chair, literally whatever you can conceive is acceptable.
Even stone is not off-limits. One of the notable exceptions to this rule is in regards to upholstery.
While you may use natural fabrics with a woven look, leather is a far more common choice for upholstery. While rare, animal skins would even be allowed.
Regardless, the smooth finish of a fine weave is distinctly not part of the Rustic motif. In fact, texture is an incredibly important part of the Rustic style, and untreated wood or distressed wood is common within this style.
Colors will generally run in the natural or neutral tones.
From a philosophical standpoint, the Rustic style can be said to be incredibly understated. While the designs may seem striking, its in a large part due to the contrast one expects from the more common artifice you would find with other styles.
While relatively ornate carvings are allowed, a better Rustic ornamentation would be the natural curves and juts in the materials itself.
Shabby Chic Style Furniture
Much in the same way the Mid-Century Modern can be seen as the maturing of Art Deco, he Shabby Chic style can be seen as a maturing of the Country Style. In fact, while Mid-Century Modern and Shabby Chic may not share a great deal in common between each other.
Their philosophical approach to the styles from which they grew is strikingly similar. Keep in mind, Shabby Chic is also a subcategory and more refined Eclectic style.
Beyond patterns, Shabby Chic style furniture generally simplifies many elements of the Country style while still retaining their core essence. However, one major diversion between Country style and Shabby Chic is the use of materials, or more accurately the presentation of those materials.
Whereas Country style will lean heavily on presenting the grain and colors of wood, Shabby chic will often paint over woods altogether. However, when the grain is shown, Shabby Chic will follow in the Country style and opt for a more distressed look over a polished one.
In many ways, Shabby Chic can also be seen as a hybrid of the Country and French Country styles. Whereas Country style will not necessarily lean so heavily on patterns, French Country will often provide a plethora of them.
Following the latter’s suit, Shabby Chic often incorporates floral patterns in its design. However, in terms of fabrics used, Shabby Chic sides once again with the Country style, often utilizing a mix of fine woven fabrics with rougher or coarser ones.
However, much like both Country and French Country, Shabby Chic does have an affinity for the worn look--perhaps going further than either by including imperfect or tastefully battered elements.
In terms of color though, Shabby Chic sides definitively with the French Country, preferring muted neutrals and delicate pastels to the heavily saturated colors of Country style.
One area that is distinctly different than Country and more in the French Country arena--though even more extreme-- is the absence of metals and glass.
While metal may be used as accents for the design of a room in generally, rarely will it be incorporated into the furniture beyond handles. Similarly, if glass is used with a table, chances are there is a floral print cover underneath the pane.
Shaker Style Furniture
As mentioned before, the Shaker and Mission styles are fairly similar. However, this can be attributed more to the Shaker style influencing American purveyors of the Arts and Crafts style than the other way around.
In fact, the Shaker style furniture originated nearly a century before the Missions style--give or take. In philosophy, however, both styles can find some common ground. Specifically, this ground is simplicity. I
n fact this simplicity extends even to color, which is generally natural woods, and upholstery, which is often absent altogether.
However, it is important to keep in mind that the simplicity of Mission style is ground in a rejection of the ornate designs being manufactured by machines in the mid to late 19th century. Shaker simplicity, on the other hand, originates from a devoutly held religious belief.
The shakers were and are a group of radical Quakers. Their name originates from the Shaker insistence that one should live in perpetual terror of an angry and vengeful god.
As such, the Shakers believed that any extravagance was a sign of disrespect and that one’s purpose was to live as simply as possible while venerating god in every action. In terms of woodworking, this translated to a simple style that favored masterful technique and craftsmanship over ornamentation.
This principle extends to the extreme as inlays and veneers are considered deceitful. Moreover, elaborate carvings are a sign of sinful pride. As such, the Shaker style can be said to favor honesty and humility of design above all else.
Shaker furniture leans heavily on wood with a preference for maple in particular. As noted, glass, metal, and other materials are not found in combination with wood unless necessary for function.
Where Mission style furniture will often use straight lines and right angles to give an impression of solidity, the Shaker style will use tapered legs and other delicate touches to soften the appearance.
Traditional Style Furniture
If English Country style furniture was inspired by the Georgian style, this is merely the tip of the iceberg. Traditional style actually spans different cultures and time periods. In fact, much of the more elaborate and ornate styles that occurred between the 17th to 19th centuries are all considered part of the Traditional style.
This includes everything from the Queen Anne to the Victorian styles--though some of the style between that span may or may not be best reflected as sharing the characteristics that define the Traditional style.
It is this broad style category that the Arts and Crafts style set out against in rebellion. This style is generally known for exceptionally ornate pieces of furniture which features the use of bold colors and busy patterns. I
t's important to keep in mind that with a “style” which spans multiple centuries, there are enough divergences that hard and fast rules are difficult to come by.
For example, the Queen Anne style and the Victorian style seem worlds apart. The Queen Anne style was not above some ornamentation, but it favored a more elegant design that was understated if immaculate.
Conversely, the Victorian style borrowed heavily from medieval Gothic conventions which featured some of the more ornate designs conceived. Still, when you say “Traditional Style,” ornate is a more common image conjured.
The lines of the Traditional style furniture tend to be softer, less sharp than most of the style to follow. Soft curves that are organic in nature are prevalent. Moreover, the arms, legs, and backs, if open, often feature exquisite carving word. For a master woodworker, the Traditional style can be seen as a magnum opus.
In terms of color and pattern, the Traditional style will often favor a busy pattern with bold colors. However, the colors can run the gamut from bright to richly saturated.
The wood will generally be stained dark and may feature inlays of brass and other warm metals but could just as easily encompass more exotic materials like ivory or bone. Smoother textures are preferred for both fabrics and hard materials.
Transitional Style Furniture
Every time the old order is laid low in preparation for something new, there will people who drag their feet in an effort to halt the inevitable progress of evolution. In the world of furniture making, that effort found its manifestation in the transitional style.
While the Arts and Crafts style sought to return to a more pure expression of craftsmanship and the Art Deco style sought to break free from the binds of traditional conventions, Transitional style sought to find a happy medium.
By progressing the Traditional still by gradual steps instead of drastic upheavals towards either conservative or progressive design.
As such, the Transitional furniture style takes a number of cues from the Traditional style but seeks to inform with the philosophical conflicts of the day. However, since tradition is conservative by nature, the Transitional style adopted far more from the Arts and Crafts style than it did from either the Art Deco or Modern styles.
This sought to do away with both the antiquated ideals of Tradition and the stifling principles Arts and Crafts.
One of the primary changes between Transitional and Traditional styles comes in the form of ornamentation. Quite simply, the Transitional style is not an ornamental style. The exquisitely carved legs, arms, and open backs of the Traditional style are nowhere to be found in the Transitional style.
The Transitional style is likely to incorporate many of the softer edges and sweeping curves common to the Traditional style. However, those curves are often juxtaposed by sharper lines--often within the same piece of furniture.
Colors and patterns are really where the Transitional style acknowledges the Modern style. Transitional patterns are sparse if not altogether absent. Colors generally tend to favor muted neutrals with a rich, dark brown to serve as an accent.
One area where Transitional style will stretch its legs is in regard to texture. Everything from finely woven linen to thick, luxurious corduroy is fair game when it comes to the Transitional style.
Tropical Style Furniture
While one may imagine that the Tropical style might hew a bit closer to the Coastal style, this is not at all the case. While not exactly ornate, Tropical style definitely has a strong sense of flair. In this regard it can be said to somewhat resemble the philosophy of the Moroccan style.
Once again, the Tropical style defies comparison and is instead an incredibly original style. However, it does seem to share a number of qualities from a wide variety of styles.
For instance, Tropical style furniture is somewhat similar in principle to both the Rustic and Country styles in that it prominently displays the natural materials in a more natural state.
Teak and bamboo make continuous appearances in the Tropical style which can actually make this style a fairly difficult challenge for a competent woodworker. However, the woods used are not the only appearance and infringement of nature into the human sphere.
The use of thick weaves from tropical fibers can and will be used to produce pretty much every piece of furniture. Chairs, couches, cabinets--even beds--may be constructed from bamboo, rattan, and thick can fibers. This provides a unique feel to the furniture, both literally and figuratively, though it will limit upholstery if utilized.
In terms of fabrics, the Tropical style will favor light and sheer above rich and robust. Linen, silk, and even chiffon can make appearances. Though the latter more as a decorative ornamentation than anything else.
Colors will often sharply contrast between pure, light neutrals and bold hues across the spectrum of the rainbow. Moreover, tropical prints can run from the bright to the richly saturated.
While it may seem garish, cartoonish even, to some, the Tropical style, when well-done can add a burst of life and energy to any piece. The Tropical style in one of the few that either must be paired in a theme or a carefully crafted Eclectic style.
Western Style Furniture
The Western style furniture is what happens when you decide that the Rustic style needs to be a bit more comfortable. In fact, the two styles will often share many of the same features with one another, departing primarily in the upholstery department.
In this regard, the Western style can be seen as a mix between the Rustic styles and a modified version of the Moroccan style.
First, it is important to distinguish the Western style from the Southwestern style. The Southwestern style is primarily a mixture between Spanish and Native American design. Conversely, the Western style finds its roots in America.
The Western style is far more recent a development and is often considered an outgrowth or subcategory of the Rustic style.
As such, it is common to find rich, natural woods featured prominently in the Western style. These woods will often be rough hewn and either stained a dark color of distressed for a more natural look.
Moreover, the Western style is not afraid to throw in a broad mixture of materials including metals and stone. The metals can include a wide variety of types, but will almost always be in the warm or dark colored range.
The metals will also either be wrought or highly polished--distressed is for the wood of the Western style, not the metal. You may see a pattern developing which is that the Western style often sticks to the extremes, avoiding the safer “middle” of design.
Speaking of pattern, Western style is more than open to including bold patterns of organic design using rich colors with saturated hues. Animal prints are common, though leather is also popular. However, exceedingly bright colors or the softer pastels are in short supply.
Whereas many of the Country styles, including the English and French varieties, may favor the feminine, the Western style is almost aggressively masculine by comparison. The high-class cabin likely uses a Western design.
4 Purposes to Fit Your Needs
Small Woodworking Projects
Anything can comfortably be held or weld with one or two hands fits into this category. While most of your beginning projects will generally be small, smaller woodworking projects can be used to develop your skills all the way to the advanced levels.
Mastery often implies the ability to construct furniture. However, there are plenty of master woodworkers who have neither the time nor the desire to work on large projects like furniture.
Another highlight of small woodworking projects is that they are often some of the more profitable projects.
First, they require far less natural resources than larger projects. This is relevant on two fronts. Both the total amount of resources needed and the maximum dimensions of the resources.
When you are calculating the investment costs of resources for an expensive type of wood like Purple Heart or Dalbergia, not to even mention Sandalwood or Heartwoods, the fewer resources you need, the better.
Moreover, it's often much cheaper to purchase smaller rips than larger ones. As such, you can often spend far less money making numerous birdhouses out of the same amount of wood that you would need to construct a chair.
However, you must be far more careful with small woodworking projects as the the pieces will generally be more fragile. This is especially relevant if you use power tools.
Aside from the fact that your skill level should be well-developed and at least intermediate before you attempt a serious project, your tools need to be precise.
Of course, if you're working on smaller woodworkings projects with serious intentions, you should've already begun the development of your skills with hand tools. Keep in mind, this process begins at the middle or later stages of of the beginner level of skills.
And it truly comes to the forefront when you can competently be considered an intermediately skilled woodworker.
Regardless, small projects with any degree of delicacy and fine craftsmanship will require both a healthy set of fundamental woodworking skill and a broader range of tools on which those skills apply. The set of chisels and your coping saw will see a great of work on these projects.
Planes may see some action, depending on the project, but sanders will show up more prevalently. Hammers are far less common, depending on the level of work.
For instance, an intermediate level small woodworking project will still likely see the hammer used often enough.
However, a more advanced woodworker will likely eschew the hammer and nails in favor of other fastening techniques, perhaps relying on a rubber mallet at most.
Though, if the woodworking plans are drawn up and executed ideally, that may not even be necessary.
Other tools that are likely to make frequent appearances include drills and clamps.
Due to the sensitive nature of more delicate pieces often involved in small woodworking projects, jointing and adhesives can serve as a superior substitute to other types of fastening techniques.
Should your skills be developed enough, it actually makes little sense to use a foreign fastening technique which will generally not work as well nor stand the test of time as well either.
Regardless, this type of woodworking is very different from both beginner, though there is some overlap, and furniture projects. If you're not careful, it is easy to ruin expensive materials due to a minor error.
In this regard, if you plan on using expensive materials, it can actually be a good idea to purchase cheaper materials that exhibit similar qualities as the truly desired material.
This allows you practice the project and ensure that the plans, and you skill level, are refined enough to ensure completion without unexpected errors cropping up along the way. Often when it's too late to do anything about it. 😉
Wood Projects for Beginners
These projects are more for practice than anything else. They should be relatively straight-forward and simple in design.
There is little or no need to add ornate carvings or additional ornamentation to these projects. At this point, you're simply trying to master the basic, fundamental skills of woodworking.
While you may have seen a picture frame with breathtaking carving and inlays, if you're working at the beginner level, simply getting all of the lines to be straight and even should be your goal.
Once you reach an intermediate stage of skill, it's your ability to perform these introductory skills at such a high level that a layperson is completely unaware of how fine of work they are looking at that you really begin to get to the advanced stages of woodworking.
For example, that picture frame without carving or inlay may seem boring. But if you can construct it so precisely that the joints and seams are nearly imperceptible, that's a sign of a higher degree of woodworking skill than carving a simple geometric design.
As such, you should pick projects which have few pieces, little carving, and few or no moving parts.
Granted, as you begin to advance to the later beginner stage of woodworking skills, you will begin to experiment with some of these techniques. However, in the beginning, straight lines, even edges is your goal.
This challenge should be made all the more difficult by your choice of tools. Specifically, there's no need to rush out and get a full repertoire of woodworking tools when you're still practicing the craft at the beginner stage.
More often than not, you should be using power tools. It is advised to have a basic set of hand tools on standby.
Hand tools require a greater degree of skill than beginners often demonstrate.
While there is nothing wrong with experimenting for fun, your focus should be on figuring out how the power tools work the wood. This is because power tools are often used for the rough stages of woodworking. Even at more advanced levels.
The advanced levels of woodworking will require an intimate understanding of how power tools affect the wood itself. Because of this, there's no need to purchase the most expensive or highest quality power tools either.
This isn't to suggest that you should go budget and pick up a consumer grade tool. However, a beginner is unlikely to recognize why a superior power tool is in fact superior just from picking it up and using it.
It's the process of trial and error that often teaches the woodworker most.
An good place to begin your woodworking career is with the aforementioned picture frame. However, in this case, you will want to avoid mitered edges.
This allows you to focus exclusively on straight lines and even edges.
Once you can competently construct that without fail, moving on to a frame with mitered edges or even a birdhouse. Perhaps the most iconic beginning woodworker’s project, can help hone your skills while developing new ones.
Once you have mastered the straight cuts and even edges portion of skill development, you can move on to simple carvings, curving forms, jointed sides, and even basic lathing.
Keep in mind that if you move on from the basic skills too quickly without properly formalizing them within your intuition and muscle memory, every more advanced skill you develop thereafter will ultimately carry the imprint of poor technique.
It will either place a low ceiling on your ultimate talent or have to be retrained.
Woodworking Projects that Sell
This isn't nearly as cut and dry as beginner, small, and furniture woodworking projects.
Whereas all of those other projects are strictly a test of your skill, selling the finished product will involve a host of factors that have nothing to do with the quality of your project.
Granted, the project’s quality will generally impact your ability to sell it and can generate increased demand. And value where there otherwise may be little.
But selling your woodworking projects are ultimately affected and occasionally held captive by market forces.
However, since you'll rarely be in a position to command market forces, a better tactic is to adapt to them. In this regard, you'll likely need to conduct a bit of research.
For example, while some products sell reasonably well over online markets, getting your name or face out there can be a challenging and time-consuming process.
Even then, if you do everything right, it can still be a matter of luck, chance, or an intimate understanding of your market and how to properly market to them.
A more reliable method would be to visit your local flea markets and see what people are selling there. By observing which projects consumers are drawn to and speaking with some of the vendors, you can get a better idea of which projects are more likely to make money in your area.
Keep in mind, you need not “go for the gusto” to turn a healthy profit off of your hobby.
Plenty of regions are drawn to simpler styles. And if constructed with a high degree of skill, are both relatively quick and easy to make and turn a top profit margin.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that small woodworking projects have a tendency to sell better than large ones. People are far more comfortable paying top dollar for a smaller item that might only cost them $200 or less than they are a large piece of furniture that can run well over $1000 and having to be moved.
If the furniture is made from a heavy wood, that can make the moving fee add a couple hundred dollars or more to the project’s base cost.
If you do decide to make and sell furniture, it is better to go with outdoor seating. Especially chairs and the like. These projects are often less refined and require less time to construct.
Beyond a treatment to project them from the elements, these projects generally aren't expected to have expensive lacquers or veneers.
Still, if you're looking to make money in woodworking, your best bet is to go with fine small projects that can either be shown off as mantle pieces or passed down as family heirlooms.
One of the best selling projects that can also command a high price while requiring a minimal amount of financial investment are jewelry boxes. These projects often require fewer materials and the designs are relatively standard.
Granted, if you truly want to stand out, you will find ways to add your own touches that are either unique or demonstrate a high degree of craftsmanship.
Regardless, these projects are often purchased with the intent that they will one day be passed from mother to daughter or grandmother to granddaughter.
As such, if you create a jewelry box made out of high quality materials and utilize sound, timeless technique, you can sell it for a premium price at minimal personal cost.
DIY Wood Furniture Projects
Furniture projects are an entirely different beast than every other type of project we have discussed thus far. Pretty much most of the defining characteristics and points of caution for the previous three categories do not apply to furniture.
It's likely more appropriate to say that furniture will include many of the same consideration as the previous categories, but it will include many more and place higher degrees of limitation on them.
For example, while there are plenty of furniture projects that a beginner can hone their skills on, the most common and reliable will be the bookshelf.
This project can be standing or mounted, but it is often simple enough that a beginner who has developed beyond the novice stage can comfortably try their hand at it.
There are numerous other “simplified” projects which technically fall under the furniture category that a beginner can try, like a headboard, simple table, or side table.
However, if you get the itch to make more advanced tables, couches, or chairs, expect the climb to be steep. First, all of these projects will demand a mucher higher investment of resources.
Not only do you need more resources for these projects, you often need larger dimensions which can increase the cost. Second, unless you are attempting to make an incredibly rudimentary piece of furniture, the skill level required to satisfactorily complete this kind of project begins at the advanced level.
In fact, furniture is often a good starting point to develop the advanced skillset. There are plenty of woodworking skills that can be developed and refined on smaller projects.
Still, the most impressive pieces and the most respected masters are generally able to produce fine pieces of furniture.
However, furniture places another limitation on many woodworkers: space. Unlike small woodworking projects which can often be accomplished with a minimal amount of space, furniture will demand a much larger workshop.
Many of the tools used to construct furniture, like the lathe, are themselves fairly large. Keep in mind, there are ways of getting around this as lathes are becoming more and more compact.
But there is only so small the tool can get before it simply cannot hold wood large enough to be used for certain pieces of furniture.
Speaking of workshops and lathes, the tools used in making furniture will also differ from those that are used in smaller projects.
A more appropriate way of looking at it is that making furniture will generally require many of the tools that you use for smaller products as well as additional tools that are used for larger products exclusively.
Plenty of sanders and planers will be unsuitable for small projects but absolutely necessary for furniture. In fact, power tools in generally will find a great deal of use. Especially in the rough stages.
However, you'll still often fall back to the same hand tools used for small projects depending on the ornamentation and joining techniques used.
Finally, furniture requires far more complicated plans. Now, if you are advanced enough in the skills required to make furniture, you'll have no difficulty reading the plans.
However, it can be more difficult to actually obtain those plans than it is to follow through with them at that stage. Keep in mind, the internet is a wonderful resource for finding furniture plans.
But it may not be as easy or plentiful when supplying the highest quality plans for the most masterful skillsets. In this regard, there are numerous clubs, guilds, and organizations that you can join.
Of course, the more exclusive of these organizations will require a demonstration of your skillset and often minimum amount of experience as well as an entry fee.
Conversely, specialized magazines will often feature plans with a high entry skillset.
12 Distinct Categories
Pallet projects are some of the hottest projects in woodworking right now. They offer exceptionally cheap resources that can be used for a wide variety of projects.
Due to the comeback of rustic and found material woodworking items, they can quickly be turned into relatively easy projects that will turn a high profit.
These projects aren't necessarily the best for heirlooms as the wood used in pallets isn't necessarily intended to stand up to decades of use.
Bedroom Furniture Plans
Bedroom furniture, on the other hand, can easily be turned into family heirlooms.
In fact, due to the size and required skill to produce many of the pieces of furniture commonly found in a bedroom, this type of project almost lends itself to heirlooms more than others.
However, it is important to keep in mind that unless you are constructing a nightstand or a bookshelf, you will likely need a larger workshop.
These projects are a bit hit or miss in terms of being able to reliably sell them.
Dining Room Table Plans
This is the first type of project on our list that can both be used to make family heirlooms and still be sold for a solid profit with a relatively regular demand.
Depending on the style you choose, you may not need that large of a workspace.
However, few styles of furniture made for dining room use are all that simple or easy to make. As such, you will generally need a higher skill level for these projects. Though there are exceptions.
Wood Projects for Kids
Projects for children generally fit into two overlapping categories, beginner projects and small woodworking projects.
Because of the limitations of size and functional strength, children are unlikely to be suited for making furniture.
Furthermore, it can be dangerous for children to use power tools if they aren't supervised and instructed on proper safety measures.
Birdhouses are one of the most common woodworking projects for children and can provide a great opportunity to spend quality time with your children.
Outdoor Furniture Plans
Outdoor furniture is another type of project that's better suited for being sold than passed down through the generations.
Though, with a high-quality, high-skill design and regular maintenance, there is no reason this furniture could not be passed down to future generations.
Still, the inherent strain of enduring the elements makes this unlikely.
However, the relative ease and low investment cost make outdoor furniture a reasonably profitable type of woodworking project.
This is another project that can often serve either as an heirloom or a product to sell. Keep in mind, desks are more difficult to sell than dining room furniture.
Aside from the fact that they often require a higher degree of skill, they're also not found in every home. Dining rooms furniture, on the other hand, will generally be found everywhere.
Still, a masterfully crafted desk can fetch a high price.
This type of project is somewhat unique in that it's generally not sold nor is it passed down from generation to generation.
Instead, this is a project to pursue only if you are a homeowner.
Considering everyone’s storage needs are different, there really is no “standard” closet, though you will know your own needs well enough to make the perfect space for your clothing.
Family Room Plans
These types of projects are arguably the most expansive in terms of their purpose. Pretty much every family room project can be made as a future heirloom.
Moreover, most of these projects can also be made for profit. Though couches and chairs may carry some restriction.
However, tables of various sizes are also excellent sales pieces or heirlooms.
While not as popular as they once were, wooden toys are making a comeback. In fairness, the market for wooden toys are generally adult collectors and not children.
Regardless, the small resource and space requirements, not to mention the lower sales price and time consumption, make these projects excellent for selling.
Of course, they can also be made for a child or grandchild. Just don't expect them to last long enough to be passed down. 😉
This is a bit meta, but many of the spaces and containers within your own workshop can be made within your own workshop.
Though it may seem a bit like a snake eating its own tail, saw horses, work benches, and various containers are excellent beginner projects.
They that can also pay huge dividends towards your future projects with a convenient and custom arrangement.
Holiday projects are similar to toy projects, except they have the additional value of being more likely to survive long enough to be passed down through the generations.
If well-made, these projects can yield exceptionally high profit margins, or they can serve as exquisite centerpieces for holiday displays.
Even better, they don't necessarily require a high degree of skill, large workspace, or significant financial investment.
These projects are the jack-of-all trades. They can go in any room, be made at any skill level, and serve any purpose. A smaller bookshelf that's well made and beautiful can be sold quickly for a high profit margin.
Moreover, you can put a bit more time into it and create an heirloom that will stand the test of time throughout multiple generations. Finally, these are an ideal beginner project once straight lines and even edges are mastered.
Wrapping It Up
Additional Reading Too!
As on of the oldest hobbies and first professions of the civilized world, woodworking has evolved throughout the ages to encompass a surprising number of projects, outlets, and purposes.
Whether you are a beginner picking up your first chisel or a master carving and inlaying a fine filigree, woodworking is a pursuit that can serve you well at every stage of your life.
With woodworking skills, you can construct magnificent furniture for yourself, friends, and family, or you can make projects which more than pay for the investment of time and resources.
Furthermore, woodworking is an activity that will develop your motor control as well as enlighten you to the ways that many basic things work. Should something in your house break, so long as it is not electronic, there is generally some application of woodworking that can fix the problem.
There is a reason that man first used wood as a way to hunt and never turned back. To this day, wood serves as a durable, versatile material that can be used for a dizzying array of tasks.
In fact, inventive woodworkers are even finding ways to adapt their projects to our increasingly technological world by making cellphone stands and other electronic accessories.
Furthermore, there really is no “end” to woodworking. If you find you have mastered a skillset, there are so many styles, each with their own philosophies, principles, and techniques, that you would be hard pressed to ever run dry the nearly infinite well that is woodworking.