Furniture and Cabinet Maker - Woodworking | Penn Foster Career School

Furniture and Cabinet Maker Woodworking Program

Why Penn Foster Career School?

  • Regionally & Nationally Accredited
  • Self-Paced
  • Supportive
  • Low monthly payments

Program Overview

Learn woodworking techniques and create beautiful pieces of furniture with Penn Foster Career School’s Furniture and Cabinet Maker program. Learn the skills that can help put you on a path toward working for a furniture or cabinet retail store, manufacturer, repair/refinishing shop, home improvement store, or even opening your own woodworking shop and specialize in custom cabinet and furniture making. At Penn Foster Career School, you can complete the Furniture and Cabinet Maker program in as little as four months – all while you train at home at a pace that's right for you.

The Penn Foster Career School Furniture and Cabinet Maker online program includes practical exercises and a Work Experience Option to give you hands-on training and field experience relative to your program and career goals. You’ll also receive a variety of tools and learning aids to help you through your cabinet design and woodworking classes, including a tape measure, combination square, T-bevel, hammer, chisel set, dovetail saw, c-clamp, and videos.

Curriculum Details

Program Goal and Outcomes

Program Goal

The Furniture and Cabinet Maker program prepares students to work for a furniture or cabinet retail store, manufacturer, repair/refinishing shop, cabinet installer, or start a woodworking shop and specialize in custom furniture and cabinet making.

Program Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students will be able to:

  • Identify, select, and know how to safely use hand and power tools in an organized workplace
  • Know how to measure accurately and how to use various layout tools, determine the appropriate dimensions and specifications from shop prints, and synthesize the tasks and skills required to create a wooden box
  • Understand the basics of joinery in order to produce strong joints of simple and advanced design
  • Know how to properly select and use fasteners for a project
  • Select and apply stains, paints, varnishes, lacquers, and polyurethanes to produce a successful finishing operation
  • Identify and appreciate the functionality, aesthetics, and planning needed in the design, construction, and installation of cabinets and countertops
  • Understand the intricacies of a thorough design process
  • Know how to properly glue panels
  • Understand how to build a Shaker-style table and apply the Shaker approach to designing and building furniture
  • Identify effective refacing techniques
  • Know how to acquire, repair, and restore a variety of furniture

Unit 1

Starting Your Program

Succeed by learning how to use your Penn Foster program.


  • Understand how to use your Student Portal.
  • Access the Penn Foster Community and use it to find answers.
  • Connect with Penn Foster on various social media sites.

It’s very important for you to know how to identify, select, and safely use hand and power tools. 


  • Basic safety guidelines for working with tools in a shop environment.
  • The proper use of basic hand tools.
  • How to use ladders and scaffolding.
  • The proper use of measuring tools.
  • Important safety guidelines for working with electricity.
  • How to use electrical power tools safely.

Unit 2

Introduction to Fine Woodworking

This lesson will introduce you to the craft of woodworking.


  • Learn how wood "moves," or expands and contracts with temperature and humidity changes.
  • Understand how trees are cut, milled, and turned into lumber.
  • Determine how a board was cut by looking at its grain pattern.
  • Distinguish the roles of cabinet maker and furniture maker.
Your Workplace, Tools, and Materials

Learn the organization of a workshop. An organized workplace is an easy, productive, and, most importantly, safe place in which to work.


  • Choose a suitable workplace.
  • Understand the importance of setting up a permanent workshop.
  • Choose the best types of lighting to use in the workplace.
  • Identify the three major categories of tools needed to perform your work.
  • Explain the necessity for proper ventilation, dust collection, and filtration.

Unit 3

Layout Techniques

Before cutting the first board or drilling the first hole, you need to have in mind what you actually want to build and how the end product is going to look and function.


  • Recognize and explain the use of various layout tools.
  • Use the metric and English measuring systems.
  • Convert measurements from one system to the other.
  • Read basic prints.
Basic Joinery

This lesson covers many of the basic principles in joint making and what’s necessary to produce strong joints that will withstand the test of time.


  • Consider the three most important factors in choosing a joint.
  • Understand the importance of long-grain contact in a joint.
  • Test-fit a joint before gluing and assembly.
  • Construct edge and butt joints, rabbet and lap joints, and dovetail and box joints.
  • Recognize the three main types of dovetail joints.
  • Understand why some joints fail.
Project 1: Layout of a Pattern

At the end of this unit you’ll complete a graded project, putting into practice what you’ve learned so far. You’ll be given illustrated, step-by-step instructions for this activity. This layout involves the use of a combination square and tape measure. When laying out the pattern, you can also practice marking specific angles with an adjustable bevel. To help you in adjusting the tool, a table and a diagram are provided with your project.

Additional Unit Materials


  • Tape Measure
  • Combination Square
  • T-Bevel
  • Wood

Unit 4

Hardware Fasteners

You’ll learn how to properly use and select fasteners for a project.


  • Use nails, screws, bolts, nuts, and washers in your projects.
  • Recognize the different types of threaded fasteners.
  • Differentiate between the different types of hinges.
  • Select the proper hinges, locks, latches, and drawer pulls for cabinet work.
Box Making Basics

In this lesson, you’ll get the chance to explore the basics of designing and building boxes.


  • Choose and properly install box hardware, such as hinges, lid stays, and box locks.
  • Understand the various design considerations in box making.
  • Select good stock.
  • Use common joinery techniques for box making.
  • Install butt hinges properly.
  • List the most commonly used box lining materials.
Advanced Joinery

Learn some advanced joints and joinery techniques.


  • Learn what materials should be used to construct jigs as well as the actual construction and use of several joint-making jigs.
  • Make dados and grooves.
  • Identify the various types of mortise and tenon joinery.
  • Test-fit a mortise and tenon joint properly prior to assembly.
  • Know on what projects to use miter joinery.
  • Use plate joinery.
  • Understand the benefits and drawbacks of building and using jigs for joinery.
Project 2: Joinery Technique (Dovetail)

At the end of this unit you’ll complete a graded project, putting into practice what you’ve learned so far. In this project you’ll cut your first dovetail joint. You’ll be given illustrated, step-by-step instructions for laying out and cutting a dovetail joint with hand tools, which are also provided.

Additional Unit Materials


  • Hammer
  • Chisel Set
  • Dovetail Saw
  • C-Clamp
  • Wood

Unit 5

Selecting, Preparing, and Applying Finishes and Topcoats

Learn how to select and apply stains, topcoats, and other finishing materials to woodworking projects.


  • Apply wood strippers.
  • Repair dents and gouges.
  • Mix colors and shade, glaze, and tone a workpiece.
  • Use putty, filler, primer, and sealer.
  • Apply a topcoat.
Project 3: Finishing

At the end of this unit you’ll complete a graded project, putting into practice what you’ve learned so far. You’ll be given illustrated, step-by-step instructions for this activity. You’ll start by sanding the wood smooth. Then you’ll apply two coats of finish. Sandpaper, stain, and brush are all provided.

Additional Unit Materials

Textbook: The Woodfinishing Book

Video: Woodfinishing


  • Water-based stain
  • Assorted sandpaper
  • Stain brush

Unit 6

Cabinet Design, Construction, and Installation

Learn about laying out and planning a kitchen and how to construct kitchen cabinets.


  • Sketch a proper floor plan.
  • Properly work with and apply plastic laminates.
  • Install shelf-support systems in cabinet cases.
  • Properly install various styles of drawer and door pulls.
  • Construct various types of base systems for kitchen cabinets.
  • Install and trim out upper kitchen cabinets.
Suggested Activity: Building a Shop Caddy

In this practical exercise, you’ll have the opportunity to apply your woodworking skills and your knowledge of cabinet design and construction. Included with your exercise is an 11" x 17" print containing drawings of a shop caddy, along with several drawings and a description of the materials needed to build a shop caddy. This exercise won’t be graded, but you will submit a journal of your activities for evaluation and suggestions.

Additional Unit Materials

Textbook: Making Kitchen Cabinets

Video: Making Kitchen Cabinets

Supplement: Suggested Activity Journal

Unit 7

Furniture Design

Design is simply a matter of planning out what you want to construct.


  • Apply the fundamentals of design.
  • Design furniture to fit the user.
  • Use sketches, drawings, and mock-ups in furniture design.
Gluing Panels

Learn all the requirements for constructing and gluing up wood panels.


  • Discuss the importance of grain orientation.
  • List the most commonly used adhesives for gluing panels.
  • Explain the importance of minimizing wood movement when gluing panels.
  • Discuss how to properly dry-assemble a panel.
  • Explain how to glue a panel and prepare it for finishing.
Shaker Table Construction

This lesson will serve as a general guide for building a Shaker-style table. It will also introduce you to the Shaker approach to designing and building furniture.


  • Explore the general guidelines for building a trestle table. 
  • Learn about the tools and materials needed to build authentic Shaker-style furniture.
  • Understand the Shaker philosophy of “simplicity and functionality,” which makes their furniture so unique and so appealing to so many people.
  • Step-by-step directions and ample illustrations help you understand the process.
Suggested Activity: Building a Shaker Table

In this practical exercise, you’ll apply your woodworking knowledge to the design and construction of a Shaker-style pedestal table. The exercise includes several drawings and a detailed materials list for all the hardware and materials needed to build the Shaker table.

Additional Unit Material

Video: Build a Shaker Table 

Unit 8

Refinishing Furniture

Explore all the practical matters involved in maintaining, refinishing, and repairing wooden furniture.


  • Understand what to look for when buying various types of furniture.
  • Distinguish between antique and modern furniture.
  • Clean and revive finishes properly.
  • Identify the proper tools and materials used to mend and maintain furniture.
Refacing Cabinets

In this lesson, you’ll learn about refacing cabinets.


  • Determine whether an existing set of cabinets can or should be salvaged by refacing.
  • Make a master drawing for a cabinet refacing project.
  • Properly install hinges, drawer slides, and other hardware for a cabinet refacing job.
  • Prepare cabinets for new refacing materials.
  • Reface cabinets both with wood veneer and with plastic laminate.
  • Choose and apply finishes and stains for refaced cabinets.
Suggested Activity: Refinishing

In this activity, you’ll refinish an actual piece of furniture. Your main purpose here is to gain some hands-on experience in refinishing. This activity gives you the chance to use the refinishing information you’ve been studying. Once you complete the activity, you’ll have the experience and confidence to take on more refinishing projects.

Additional Unit Materials


  • Refinishing Furniture Made Simple
  • Refacing Cabinets: Making an Old Kitchen New
Work Experience Option

Upon graduation, you’ll receive a Work Experience Option supplement. If you choose, you can use this supplement to find a trainee position and get valuable job experience. Or, you can use the checklists and job-hunting tips to go directly into the full-time job market. Whichever you choose, you’ll be well-prepared!

Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need high-speed internet access to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 7® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running OS X® or later, and an email account to participate in and complete your program.

We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft, Windows, and Windows XP are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and OS X are trademarks of Apple, Inc registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.

Sample Lesson

To view a Furniture and Cabinet Maker sample lesson, click here.

Furniture and Cabinet Maker Program Details

In the Penn Foster Career School Furniture and Cabinet Maker Program, you’ll cover topics such as:

Furniture and Cabinet Maker Student Discount Program

Woodworkers Guild of America Video Resources
Students enrolled in the Furniture and Cabinet Maker Career Diploma Program are eligible for discounted rates for the Woodworkers Guild of America premium online how-to videos. This video resource site can serve as a supplement to your furniture and cabinetry program, but is not required to complete your coursework. Learn more about this offer here.


State Licensing Information

Licensing and/or certification requirements for jobs in this field are not the same in every state and may include educational, testing, and/or experiential requirements beyond those offered by your Penn Foster Program. You should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where you plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in your Program. Please click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

Woodworking Furniture Maker Online

Furniture and cabinet makers build or repair a variety of wood cabinets and furniture pieces, using skills such as layout, joinery, and wood finishing. Here are a few qualities that effective furniture and cabinet makers have in common:

  • Detail oriented: It’s important to have a sharp eye and check things twice.
  • Problem solving: Finding the missing piece can be rewarding and fun.
  • Creative: Designing and restoring furniture often requires imaginative thinking.
  • Persistent: You work until the job is done, and done well.
  • Honest: You are ethical in your work for customers.

Penn Foster is a great way to get ahead in a career and the way the program was set up, even the busiest person can get through it. I'm so glad I found Penn Foster.

- Guiseppe S., Penn Foster graduate

I have had great feedback from my employer after my training from Penn Foster. I have also had other job offers. The knowledge that you learn is priceless. Penn Foster is an excellent school.

- Kenny B., Penn Foster graduate

My overall experience with Penn Foster was great. You are allowed to go at your own speed, and the school gives encouragement to keep you going. I would recommend Penn Foster.

- James R., Penn Foster Graduate

Your program includes:

  • Customized payment plans with 0% interest
  • Books and learning aids, including a tape measure, combination square, T-bevel, hammer, chisel set, dovetail saw, c-clamp, and videos
  • Goal-setting and progress-tracking tools
  • Instructional support from our experienced faculty
  • Access 24/7 to Penn Foster’s online community, plus immediate membership in the Furniture and Cabinet Maker academic group
  • Your personalized online student homepage and learning portal
  • Additional resources such as our online library and career guidance from Career Cruising
  • Woodworkers Guild of America Video Resources Student Discount Program

Does the Furniture and Cabinet Maker Career Diploma Program provide any study materials?

Yes, there are tools and learning aids provided, including a tape measure, combination square, T-bevel, hammer, chisel set, videos, and more.

Is there an opportunity to get hands-on training as part of the Furniture and Cabinet Maker Career Diploma Program?

Yes! In addition to practical exercises that include suggested hands-on activities, the Furniture and Cabinet Maker Career Diploma Program has a Work Experience Option. The Work Experience Option gives students the opportunity to apply the skills they’ve learned in real-life, hands-on situations under the guidance of a professional. Students are responsible for locating a facility in their local community where they can complete the Work Experience Option.

More FAQs >

Find us on Google+