Furniture and Cabinet Maker Diploma Program Details

Penn Foster’s Online Furniture and Cabinet Maker Diploma Program consists of courses that will cover the basics of creating unique pieces. Discover how to set up your workplace, tools, and materials, understand joinery and layout techniques, and learn how to hone your craft with a Work Experience Option.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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 

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.

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!

Additional Details

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 in the Penn Foster Program. Prospective students should contact the state professional licensing board or similar regulatory body in the state(s) where they plan to work to determine their requirements before enrolling in this Program. Click here for contact information for state licensing/regulatory boards and certain industry licensing information.

Penn Foster Career School Accreditation & Licensing Details

Penn Foster has been accredited for over 50 years. Penn Foster Career School has been thoroughly reviewed and has earned several important accreditations, certifications, and licensing. Most importantly, Penn Foster Career School is both regionally and nationally accredited.

Surround Sound Support

A Committed Support System

While you can study independently, you’re not alone! With a dedicated Student Services department, the Student Community, and instructors just a call away, you’ll have access to the support you need.

Progress Tracking and Goal Setting Tools

Our customizable goal-setting tools will help you create a schedule and stick to it. Need some extra time to complete a lesson? Not a problem — you can adjust your study plan at any time to set a pace that works for you.
Progress Tracking and Goal Setting Tools
Penn Foster Student Community

Student Community

Looking to connect with other Penn Foster students? Our Student Community is the perfect place for you to interact with your peers — as well as Penn Foster faculty and staff — to discuss your online learning experience, congratulate fellow students, and share your Penn Foster experience.

Sample Furniture and Cabinet Maker Lesson

Penn Foster courses are written in a way that is easy to understand, and materials are broken down into manageable lessons. Take a look at what a Furniture and Cabinet Maker course would look like.
Furniture and Cabinet Maker Sample Lesson
Computer Specifications
As you know this is an online academic program. This means you will need access to high-speed internet to begin your program. In addition, you will need access to a Microsoft® Windows® based computer running Windows 10® or later or an Apple® Mac® computer running macOS® or later, and an email account to complete this program.
We reserve the right to change program content and materials when it becomes necessary.
Microsoft and Windows are trademarks of Microsoft Corporation registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
Apple, Mac, and macOS are trademarks of Apple, Inc. registered in the United States of America and/or other jurisdictions.
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