Making fine exquisitely crafted furniture to exacting tolerances takes considerable skill, patience and years of practice. There are no short cuts or fast track options. However, with appropriate tuition the learning process should become a hugely enjoyable part of the journey, indeed you never actually stop learning. The courses I teach start with the basics, assume no prior knowledge and are therefore suitable for the absolute beginner or those with some experience but who's work is not turning out as desired.
Class size is an important factor when considering which furniture school to attend. For the beginner courses you are likely to require a considerable amount of one to one time and therefore I take a maximum of four students on courses 1 and 2. For all other courses I take up to 6, which is still a very small class size. The workshop opens at 8:45am with courses running from 9am until 5pm.
Course 1, (5 days)
The course starts with tuning and sharpening a no.5 1/2 Jack plane and a block plane. Only when the tools are to a known standard will they be capable of producing work to a cabinet making level. Next we will make a pair of winding sticks, these are used to ascertain whether a planed surface has any ‘twist’ present or is ‘true’ and therefore ready to be used. The Cube box is made with mitred joints and has a precise sliding fit. It should be truly square so the lid can fit regardless of orientation. This may at first seem a daunting task for the absolute beginner, but by working methodically through each process a crisply made box should be quite possible.
Course 2, (5 days)
Pencil case with piston fit tray
This course gently introduces the student to fine cabinet making tolerances and highlights the importance of accurate measuring and marking. The challenge is to make a simple box / pencil case with an internal tray that is ‘true’ so that it fits snugly inside the box regardless of which way around it is. With the box placed on its end the tray should glide down on the cushion of escaping air. Similar to course one, we begin with sharpening and tuning your tools. None of the wood used is pre-machined, so students will need to accurately plane and thickness material used for the box and tray parts. This course involves little joint making, instead it focuses on the importance of making component parts to fine tolerances. How slowly the tray descends when the piece is finished, aptly demonstrates to the maker how well they have mastered the challenge.
Course 3, (5 days)
Curved jewellery / watch box
(Introduction to veneering and laminating)
Adding curves and veneered surfaces to your work can open endless design possibilities. On this course we will explore the basics of how to produce stable curved substrates suitable for veneering. The basics of ‘lippings’ used to strengthen and add suitable solid material to doors / lids etc. Single and two part moulds, suitability of glues, and what ’kit’ is most appropriate for the type of work you intend.
On the course each student will make an elegant jewellery / watch box with a curved lid and curved base. Students will also learn how to accurately set in hinges
Art course (3 days)
sketching / drafting / water colouring
This is one of my favourite courses as it takes me back to my past as a commercial illustrator. The ability to sketch your designs with a high degree of visual accuracy is a pleasure for the amateur and a real advantage for any professional. Whilst CAD and other computer generated imagery have their place, being able to draw a design in minutes with just a pencil and paper is invaluable and always impresses a potential client.
Day one concentrates on how to produce visually accurate two minute sketches, working through a variety of exercises of increasing complexity.
Day two progresses to learning simple drafting techniques used to create technically accurate perspective line drawings using a trimetric grid.
Day three is focused solely on ‘rendering’, using water colour paints to colour the previously drawn linework. Students will learn the techniques needed to produce an eye catching colour visual of a proposed piece.
This course is suitable for anyone regardless of your drawing, or artistic ability. All materials are provided for the course.