five days with the expert, someone who knows what
to do, how to do it and more important why to
do it. These techniques will revolutionise your
work, whether at amateur or professional level.
DO I NEED TO ATTEND A TOOL TUNING COURSE?
1. MY TOOLS DON'T NEED TUNING - most people
start using a plane straight from the box and
do not realise that even a fine and expensive
plane or chisel can be radically improved by
tool tuning. Sharpening, fettling and cambering
a blade can result in much better results. An
old plane would show an even greater improvement.
2. IT'S ONLY A SHARPENING COURSE - actually
it is not just sharpening. Students also learn:
Proper hand plane holding
How to prepare stock by achieving flatness
The importance of reference faces
Accurate marking of stock using marking knife
Use of the shooting board
Basic controlled chisel technique
The opportunity to discuss woodworking problems
3. IT'S NOT FOR BEGINNERS/IT'S NOT FOR EXPERTS
- all skill levels are catered for on David's
courses. Many people think that they are too
inexperienced to come on the course... we have
had absolute beginners alongside commercial
makers and all have been very happy with the
level of teaching. Small groups of 4 or 5 students
mean that everyone gets careful attention and
an excellent result.
4. I CAN'T AFFORD IT - in the present economic
situation this may be a real problem, but students
get intensive tuition by a well-known teacher
of high reputation in an established workshop,
in a beautiful area of North Devon. Many past
students have said that their woodworking has
been revolutionised by the knowledge that they
gained on the course and this knowledge is reflected
in their making and lasts a lifetime.
"As a retired Nuclear Engineer I have
been used to fine tolerances in machined metal components
produced by very skilled craftsmen. However I had my eyes
opened on the Tool Tuning Course. Not only did I witness
the production of 1 thousandths of a inch shaving
of wood with a hand plane but it was me doing it, with
my own plane and on END GRAIN. Of all of the training
courses I have attended in my life this was the most enjoyable
and informative of all. A must for anyone contemplating
first thing to say is that I got everything out of the
course I hoped and expected to. I had already watched
all the DVDs and enjoyed them so I was pretty sure what
the course would involve. This certainly was what I experienced
and so, in this limited sense, it was a fulfilment of
my expectation. But there was a lot more besides.
I was quite apprehensive beforehand since I had not attempted
any work as exact as this before and to work under the
close supervision of a legend in exactitude was a bit
daunting. I was not sure whether I would be able to achieve
the fabled 'one thou full width and length shaving'. While
I am sure one could follow the DVD instructions and achieve
good results, the gentle personal guidance on the spot
was invaluable. This gave me confidence and I came away
with my pot of shavings as predicted. One has to be rather
selective in whom one tells that one has spent a week
in the depths of North Devon in order to come away with
some wood shavings. I am glad John was there too since
I can counter the odd looks by saying that there was someone
willing to come from the other side of the world to do
so. The production of such shavings is indeed quietly
There was more on general technique than I expected
shooting and chisel work which was all to the good.
I need to review and type up my notes supplemented by
reference to your books - to consolidate what I have learned.
The logic and especially the counter-intuitive stuff (using
a curved blade for accurate work etc) was compelling.
The whole package of the course, B&B with Merlyn next
door and the feeling of being albeit temporarily part
of the community was really good.
Thank you again for a really memorable, productive and
enjoyable week. I am coming back if I may."
Tool tuning course May 2009
you want to learn a very good technique for sharpening
and how to fettle a bog standard plane to take a shaving
so thin it floats Mr C is the man. Go on his tool preparation
learnt how to sharpen a chisel and plane blade, how to
make an old (Stanley)
plane take a 1 thou shaving and most importantly (IMHO)
how to use these super sharp tools. Using a chisel for
paring, more importantly using a plane - techniques for
flattening a board, squaring an edge, removing wind. Everything
I struggled with to get started in the world of wood got
direct teaching from someone who knows what to do and
why it works is the best thing I even spent money on!
It might sound a bit silly, but I didn't just learn how
to do things - I learnt how to think about what I was
affiliated to Mr C, just a very very happy customer
"When I first started out, a few years back, with hand tools I found your DVDs very helpful. Over the course of time, I have taken some classes and read more books and articles. I'm not sure how or why, but I slowly moved away from your techniques. I have been struggling quite a bit lately, not getting the results I want. I was thinking to myself, I wasn't having these issues when I was starting out. A lot of my issues revolve around sharpening. I then remembered that I always got the best results using your approach. Over the past couple days, I have gone back and watched the first few of your DVDs. I was amazed at how much information I had allowed to slip away or be replaced. I think I only spent 15 minutes in the shop, and my plane blade sharpening has improved dramatically! How could I have strayed off course! I know you might have your critics, but your approach always gives me consistent results. Spending an extra couple of minutes, over other approaches, is worth my time now. I'm now going to go back and review my chisel technique.
Do you have any plans to release any new DVDs or travel to the US to teach any classes?
Thank you again,"
From time to time one gets a letter or an e mail like this, raising the spirits to a huge degree. Writing is a solitary pastime, so it is particularly welcome to hear from the occasional reader, otherwise one might feel that there were none.........
Many thanks to Paolo for allowing me to post this letter.
" Dear Mr.Charlesworth,
First of all let me thank you for all your DVDs and books. After a long career in academia I have decided to have a rest (possibly permanently) from research and writing, and devote my remaining time and energy to working with wood. Your DVD lessons and books are excellent examples of first rate teaching. They are clear, concise carefully worded and therefore easy to follow. You reduce the energetic, inarticulate and rather chaotic demonstrations of others to logical economic and repeatable systems: reminiscent of, and I mean this in a very positive way, surgical operations. Sometimes writers on cabinet making rely on mystification when they are unable to explain some complicated technique clearly. Even worse they are not even aware that what they do instinctively is not obvious to the novice; as though one will suddenly be assailed by furor divinus and become proficient through some inexplicable process of enlightenment. Where others at times engender confusion, and have made me feel like giving it all up, your demonstrations have given me real encouragement and have been truly inspirational. For all this I am deeply grateful.
I look forward to learning from your new DVD.
With best wishes "
"I've occasionally managed to get my tools sharp (or so I thought) so I
know what a joy it is to use sharp tools and what they can achieve. But
this has been at the expense of an inordinate amount of time. The result
- I don't sharpen my tools often enough and in a consistent way. So I
was looking for a course that concentrated on tool sharpening and
tuning. David's course seemed to fit the bill and I'd seen some of his
videos and was impressed by them. I booked myself on the course and it
more than lived up to my expectations, much more.
David is an excellent
teacher, clear and concise. But above all it's his thoughtful and
analytic approach to things that I liked. I came away understanding not
only how to tune and quickly sharpen my planes and chisels, but why I
was doing it in a particular way, the sharpening angles I might choose
for particular situations and how the tools are used. My sharpening has
been elevated to a level I didn't think possible. For instance, today I
was adjusting the fit of a mitre joint and achieving wafer thin
shavings. No chattering and no effort. Pure joy. But just as important
were all the snippets of information I gleaned. I wouldn't have picked
those up working on my own or reading books and watching videos.
no substitute for a hands on approach under instruction from somebody
who has seen all the problems before and solved them for you. This short
note doesn't do justice to what I learnt and I'll be back next year to
do the dovetailing course. On top of a very enjoyable week in the
workshop, the setting is in a beautiful part of the country and has an
excellent B&B next door, run by Merlyn, who made me feel very welcome
students appreciate the opportunity to experience the
workshop and its surroundings before committing to the
longer course. For long course information click