9 Month Intensive Course in Fine Woodworking

Our intensive program is intended for those seeking an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of fine woodworking with a heavy emphasis on furniture and cabinet making. It is best suited to those considering fine woodworking as a career or serious amateurs with a desire for intensive training. The course runs 5 days a week from 8am to 5pm for 9 months.

 

Chiselling a dovetail joint for easy assembly

Our 9 month program starts by teaching the use of hand tools to fashion wood - just like they did before powered machinery was invented. Starting with hand tools in this way will give you a confidence and understanding of wood that you cannot get by any other means. Over time the methods we teach will become a hybrid of hand tool and machine woodworking. By the end of the course you will be able to make your own decisions about when to use hand tools and when to use machines. Often the decision is entirely arbitrary - many people (your tutors included) just love the practice of hand tool woodworking as a craft form. But we also want you to be prepared for the rigors of a commercial wood or cabinet shop where experience of all the common woodworking machines is essential to the modern trade. Even if you never set foot in such a place you will be well served by learning how they do it.

Woodworking benches in the school

With hand tools most processes are normally slower, safer, more fun and peaceful. Mistakes tend to be minor. Machines are noisy, can feel too industrial and are extremely dangerous when improperly used - but they can also greatly speed up production and simplify many woodworking tasks.

During this program you will make set projects of increasing complexity (boxes, tables, chests, cabinets with doors and drawers & seating) and then make a piece of fine furniture that you have designed yourself.

Curriculum

Wood technology:

  • How trees grow, wood selection, reading grain

  • Wood movement - understanding the importance of humidity and moisture content

  • How wood is seasoned (air drying and kiln drying)

  • Natural timber defects (knots, shakes, pitch pockets, etc)

  • Artificial timber defects (cupping, bowing, twisting, case hardening, etc – how they occur and how to deal with them

  • Wood diseases and pests (rots, boring insects, spalting, etc)

  • Manufactured board use and selection (Plywood, fibre boards, etc)

A hand plane being used to flush off a dovetail joint
A random orbital sander

Sharpening:

  • Commissioning a new hand tool and refurbishing an old one

  • Understanding the different tool steels and hardnesses

  • How to sharpen by hand and machine

  • Sharpening stone types (water, diamond, ceramic etc) – advantages and disadvantages of each

  • Grinding and honing angles

  • Sharpening planes, chisels and scrapers

  • Sharpening spokeshaves and other small blades

Joinery:

  • Basic joinery: Mortise and tenon, bridle, lap, halving, dovetails, mitred.

  • Advanced joinery: Decorative "through" joinery, angled joinery, compound angled joinery.

Furniture design:

  • 3D Design and Computer aided design (CAD)

  • Scale drawings and maquettes (scale models)

  • Mock-ups

  • Cut lists

 

The how, when and why of all the common woodworking hand tools:

  • Hand planes: (Jointer, jack, smoothing, rabbet, shoulder, router, scraper)

  • Spokeshaves, scorps and pull shaves

  • Chisels: (Bevel edge, mortise, gouges, carving)

  • Hand saws: Back/Tenon, dovetail, coping, Japanese (pull), carcass, cross cut, rip

  • Measuring and layout tools (marking and mortise gauges, squares, bevel gauges, knives, dividers, etc)

A block plane cutting a chamfer

Veneering:

  • How to make wood veneer

  • How to buy and use commercially made veneer

  • Book, slip and end matching

  • Advanced veneering skills (parquetry, sunburst and other patterns)

 

Inlay and marquetry:

  • Stringing and other decorative inlays

  • Router, template and hand cut inlay work

  • Marquetry (pictures in wood) by hand and machine

The safe and efficient use of woodworking machinery - including set-up and maintenance of:

  • Table saws

  • Band saws

  • Scroll saws

  • Chop and compound miter saws

  • Jointers and planers

  • Stationary mortising machines (hollow chisel & horizontal boring)

  • Edge, disc, spindle and drum sanders.

  • Hand held and table-installed routers.

  • Hand held circular saws

  • Common hand held joinery machines (Biscuiters & Festool Domino)

  • Lathes

  • Drill press, hand held drills and impact drivers

  • Veneer press

Materials and techniques

  • Preparing stock - flattening and truing wood by hand and machine

  • Making your own tools (bench hook, shooting board, dovetail marker, scratch stocks, holding devices, etc)

  • Drill bit types, use, sharpening and selection (twist, brad-point, forstner, etc)

  • Adhesives, glue ups, clamping strategies

  • Abrasives: (types, use and selection)

  • Installing hinges, locks and other hardware

  • Repairing defects and mistakes

  • Making and using templates, jigs, and story poles

  • Curved work: Bandsawn curves, templated curves, bent laminations, coopering, steam bending, saw kerfing & brickwork

  • Finishing: How use oils, varnishes, lacquers, waxes and Shellac to protect and beautify your furniture.

 A hand plane on it's side
A router bit in a router
A marquetry image of a butterfly

Woodworking as a career:

  • Pricing and estimating work

  • How to start a woodworking business

  • How to buy materials

  • Modern cabinet making techniques (European and Face-frame construction)

  • Built-in cabinetry (install and scribing techniques).

A sliding table saw

2023/24 - Course dates and cost

Start date: Mon August 14th 2023

End date: Fri June 7th 2024

Actual tuition period (minus all breaks and public holidays) is 36 weeks.

Breaks (no classes on these dates):

Labor Day: Mon September 4th 2023

Indigenous peoples day: Mon October 9th 2023

Veteran's Day: Fri November 10th 2023

Thanksgiving break: Mon November 20th to Fri November 24th 2023

Christmas break: Mon December 25th 2023 to Fri January 5th 2024

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Mon January 15th 2024

President's Day: Mon February 19th 2024

Spring break: Mon March 11th 2024 to Friday March 15th 2024

Memorial Day: Mon May 27th 2024

The cost for the 9 month Intensive Course in Fine Woodworking is $21,400.

How to enroll

We only accept a maximum of 6 students per year to this program and an early expression of interest is highly recommended. Enrollment for 2023/24 is open now. All applicants will know whether they have been successful at least 6 months prior to the course commencement date.

We will assess all applicants for suitability. This may include a phone or in-person interview and/or you may be asked to visit to the school for a short and informal try-out. Total beginners are welcome to apply but we are looking for people with at least some woodworking experience or those who can demonstrate an interest or ability in another art or craft. We value enthusiasm and a clear dedication to learning above all else. If you have photos of something you have made or are making we would love to see them - they do not have to be made of wood. If you do not make it on to our 9 month program you may want to take some of our shorter courses instead and then try again another year.