Long Course

David’s 12 week course at Harton Manor Workshop

My aim on this course is to teach you all the skills and pass on all the knowledge necessary, so that you can make simple pieces of furniture in your own workshop. The list below is a detailed summary of what we cover during the twelve weeks.

Furniture Making Skills, Techniques & Theory.

What is sharpness and how do we get it?

• Theory of sharpening
• Use of water stones to prepare new chisels and plane blades.
• Avoiding hollow stones.
• Cambered blades and squaring of chisel edges.
• Grinding with Tormek and bench grinder.
• Preparation of Japanese chisels.
• The Resharpening of blades.
• Marking knife modifications.

Tool tuning or fettling. Most tools do not work out of the box!

• The theory and practice of plane tuning for ultimate performance.
• Preparing the perfect board. Precision Plane use.
• Modifying marking gauges so that they work.
• Marking out and the accumulation of errors.
• Making and use of shooting boards.

As we progress, Health & Safety and use and setting up of the workshop machinery will be covered in detail. A thorough understanding of risk and the nature of kickback are essential for safe machine use.

• The Bandsaw.
• Cross cut saw.
• Drill press.
• Planer thicknesser.
• Dimension saw.
• Routers and their uses, particularly when table mounted.
• The Hollow chisel morticer.

The theory and implications of timber movement will be covered in depth. This vital topic affects everything we build with solid timber. Correct structural methods are necessary to prevent self destruction.

• Selection and buying.
• Conversion from rough plank into components.
• Learning to read the grain.
• Face side, edge and fibre marks.
• Best practice machining to minimize timber movement.

We have a number of small projects, which introduce new techniques, tools and skills, as below.


• Through dovetails.
• Mitred through dovetails.
• Single lap dovetails.
• Secret mitre dovetails.
• Applications of these joints for carcass construction.
• Glue theory.
• Minimizing glue squeeze-out, for an immaculate interior.

A small box project.

• Machining and handling of thin timber for the lining.
• Bandsawn veneer.
• Inlay technique, patching defects.
• Repairing errors, voids dents and splices.
• Shoulder and rebate planes.
• Scratch stock use.
• Shooting mitres on box linings.
• Clamping theory, pressure and glue spread.
• Workshop friendly finishing with Shellac.

Making winding sticks. This vital workshop tool is an opportunity to work with a dense exotic timber.

• Back bevel planing for interlocked timbers.
• Hand scrapers and scraper planes.
• More inlay techniques.
• Preparing inlay line material.
• Burnishing dense exotics.

Drawer making and fitting.

• Best quality Arts and Crafts technique.
• Solid bottoms.
• The “let go” principle.
• The need for a precision carcase.
• Runners and kickers.

A small door with a veneered panel.

• Hand and machine cut mortice and tennons.
• Wedged tennons.
• Haunches.
• Veneering by hand, press and vacuum bag.
• Scraper plane use.
• Theory for hanging doors with hinges.

This list of skills, theory and technique is designed to give an indication of the scope of the material covered in 12 weeks. I encourage a certain amount of deviation into related furniture making issues, during our morning sessions, so it is impossible to be absolutely prescriptive.