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Rustic Furniture, Maine, and a Weekend

No, not The Weeknd, a weekend (December 5th & 6th actually). I took a rustic, branch furniture making class at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, ME with artist/craftsman Wayne Hall. It was a great experience and well worth the $300 tuition (includes materials and use of any and all tools) for the weekend coarse. Above you see a table Wayne has made and below you can see the coffee/end table that I made!


The School

About an hour and a half north of Portland, the school is fairly accessible to the more populous areas of NH and Maine. My girlfriend and I decided to make it a little weekend getaway and found a moderately priced motel right on the water and about five minute drive from the school.

They offer weekend classes, 1-2 week workshops, 8-12 week intensives, 9 month comprehensives, and fellowship programs so there is probably something for anybody (adult anybodies at least).


The grounds were nice, facilities clean, and the people excellent. I look forward to taking some other classes there as well as repeating this one next year.

The Teacher


Wayne was extremely excited about all of our projects and a wealth of knowledge for anyone that asked. He makes his own art and furniture in addition to teaching at the University of Maine.

The Wood

So the first thing you’ll need is wood. I know what you’re saying (“you’ll need tools first”), but hear me out. The branches/saplings will take about 2-3 weeks to dry from the time you cut them if you make a DIY kiln or about a year to dry if they’re just placed inside. Cut enough in similar diameters of varying lengths and shapes (try to get some straight though) as how they dry will often dictate how they get used.


Every area has different native woods so try with everything you can get; it might take some practice.


For table tops I used a live edge piece of a bar top. I got this one at a mill, but I plan on making my own Alaskan chainsaw mill at some point and kiln drying myself.


The Tools


There are all sorts of ways you can do this, but I think the easiest and most efficient way is to do a mortise and tenon attachment of the supports and figure-8 clips for the top or shelves. The tools you’ll want:

  • folding rule
  • pencil
  • masking tape
  • sharpie
  • clamps (so many clamps)
  • tenon cutter and a mortise bit with same diameter (1/2”, 5/8”, or 3/4”)
  • level
  • epoxy
  • knife
  • sanding sponge
  • figure-8 clips, screws, and bit for pre-drilling
  • desired finish
  • drill
  • handsaw

Cut and put together, measuring when you can, and eyeballing a lot. Mock your piece up (and label with the masking tape) before disassembly. Glue/epoxy, assemble all but the top, and clamp. Sand/cut to level and take any excess glue off with a knife and sanding sponge. Install figure-8 clips and you are ready for finishing.


As you can see from the finished picture, I decided to add some decorative rungs and attached them with a rawhide shoe lace after applying the finish.

The Finish


To keep your furniture looking great, it is recommended you use a mix of thirds varnish, spar urethane, and a thinner. Apply with a rag and wipe any excess off. Let dry and enjoy.

It sounds very simple, and in a lot of ways it is, but I highly recommend either taking a class as I did or expecting a lot of trial and error before you get good.


I am happy to answer any questions on here that I can or you can check out some of my other work.

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