We’re all about bespoke suits, custom furniture, really, we appreciate customization in any size shape or form. Even the pillows we reviewed last week were custom! Custom furniture is always a unique way for those of us who know exactly what we want and know we can’t find it in a mass produced furniture superstore. But why let someone else create your vision? Why not do it with your own two capable hands? There’s something so intrinsic and natural about using your hands and power tools to mold wood into a shape your mind has created.

Philadelphia Furniture Workshop is a truly unique experience—it’s a full service teaching studio for those interested in the art of woodworking. If you passed the wood shop class with flying colors in 7th grade and always wanted to try your hand at a band saw again, this is the place to do it. Philadelphia Furniture Workshop differs slightly from other wood working courses or ‘open to the public’ classes you may have found before…they are truly devoted to taking on each student, from true amateur beginners to those who know their way around vertical dry-wheel grinder, and making you extremely proficient in the craft. It’s not about making one project or learning a couple skills, the guys here are true craftsman who help you appreciate the art form that you learn while you’re here.

Clean, minimalist lines give rise to a simple and attractive bench, and by splaying the legs with compound angled tenon shoulders, the visual volume of the piece is kept small while ensuring a stable perch. Wedged tenon joinery completes the bench with a traditional detail.

We came in for a weekend project, creating a lovely hearth bench. Alan Turner and Mario Rodriguez (the superman craftsmen that run this studio) have organized the design of the bench to make sure you go home with a stunning piece and more skills than anticipated. It’s not as easy as it sounds. It was the perfect first piece for a novice or beginning woodworker (as we obviously were).

Current woodworking instruction tends to primarily focus on either machine work or hand work, and many woodworkers tend to embrace either one or the other at the beginning. This singular approach can limit the scope of one’s work, and you might never develop your full creative potential.

At Philadelphia Furniture Workshop their goal is to open doors for our students, not close them. Mario and Alan say that the most enjoyable and successful woodworking is achieved by striking a balance. They teach the use of machinery and power tools for the preparatory and mechanical aspects of a project in order to achieve the best results in a safe and efficient manner, and then turn to hand tools and other traditional techniques. These hand tool methods permit the distinctive details and refinements which elevate a project from the commonplace to the outstanding.

Whatever your skill level, interest, or direction as a woodworker or just a fascinated outsider who likes getting his hands dirty, head to Philly. You’ll have something fantastic to show for your weekend come Monday morning.