4.296 Furniture Making

Spring 2005

A wood-bending demonstration.

Intricate pieces for furniture include wood pieces with curvature. (Image by MIT OCW.)

Course Highlights

This course features an image gallery to highlight student projects and course demonstrations in the lecture notes section.

Course Description

Furniture making is in many ways like bridge building, connections holding posts apart with spans to support a deck. Many architects have tried their hand at furniture design, Wright, Mies Van Der Rohe, Aalto, Saarinen, Le Corbusier, and Gerhy.

We will review the history of furniture making in America with a visit to the Decorative Arts Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and have Cambridge artist/craftsman Mitch Ryerson show us his work and talk about design process. Students will learn traditional woodworking techniques beginning with the use of hand tools, power tools and finally woodworking machines.

Students will build a single piece of furniture of an original design that must support someone weighing 185 lbs. sitting on it 12 inches off the ground made primarily of wood. Students should expect to spend approximately 80 hours in the shop outside of class time.

Preregistered architecture students will get first priority but first meeting attendance is mandatory. Twelve student maximum, no exceptions.

Special Features

Technical Requirements

QuickTime®Player is required to run the .mov files found on this course site.

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Prof. Christopher Dewart

Course Meeting Times

Two sessions / week
2 hours / session


Undergraduate / Graduate