First Projects

Beginning Woodworking Projects for Hand Tools

The Orientation semester covered the basics and helped you get your shop established.  Now it is time to put that workbench, tools, and skill to use and make something that actually leaves the shop.  I'm talking about your first furniture projects.  3 beginning woodworking projects to be exact.

I polled thousands of woodworkers of all experience levels to find out what the first projects were that they built or the first projects they were asked to build.  (some of us still haven't built those...)  After looking over the results I came up with 3 basic projects:

  • A wall hung cabinet
  • A bench seat
  • A coffee or end table

There were some others too but they all required a lot more wood and some additional tools to build.  I wanted this semester to involve small volumes of wood and very few additional tools to what we already used in the Orientation Semester.  That is how I came up with this slate of projects.  But what I also like is just how customizable each project is to allow the woodworker to add their own style and make it their own.  


I was eyeing Hand Tool School for a couple years before finally joining this year. So far, I've been super impressed with the amount of material, instruction, and knowledge available via the site. And the community is amazing.

Tim B

Hand Tool Woodworking Projects

This semester requires very little woodworking experience.  It is a suite of beginner woodworking projects designed to teach you the fundamentals of furniture construction.  You will want a workbench and a few tools (see below) but beyond that I show you how to build everything in great detail.  

You may not have ever picked up a saw or chisel, but this Semester is designed to get started with just a few tools and teach you the fundamental  skills to build just about anything.  This last point is key as the 3 projects illustrated in this semester can be scaled up or down or transformed into just about any other furniture form you can imagine.  

Projects, Lessons & Tools

  • Projects
  • Tool List

The Entry Shelf

Casework is all around us.  From bookcases to chests and cabinets.  This little shelf introduces the principles that will allow you to build square boxes and cases.  It walks you through the basic casework joinery using the most basic of tools.  And for fun I show how to cut those same joint using more specialized tools that can increase your efficiency and precision.  Then we apply a fine painted finish, which may surprise you is much harder than a clear coat finish.
Entry Bench

The Entry Bench

Everyone needs a place to sit down and take off their shoes right?  This bench capitalizes on the typical trestle table/bench construction using a central stretcher with a through mortise and tenon.  But I up the ante a bit and make the legs angled requiring angled mortises and tenons.  This is to prove the point that with hand tools, angles are irrelevant and its all just cutting to a line. 
Beginner End Table

The End Table

Tables!  My favorite furniture form.  They are basically a master class in mortise and tenon joinery.  This end table has a lot of them to hone your skills.  24 of them to be exact.  But it is also an exercise is developing a plan using only a photograph.  I start this project with an image and show you how to turn it into a parts list and actually build it.  Because every woodworker is going to be asked to build from a photo at some point. 

Virtual School?  Support?

Yep this is all virtual instruction using video, PDFs, and good old fashioned community forums.  But I'm never more than an email away or a private message through the forum.  Plus there are LOTS of woodworkers active every day in our Community that are ready and willing to help you as your skills grow.

Unlike brick and mortar classes, there is no start time and no need to take vacation time or travel to a location.  With The Hand Tool School you can work at 2 AM in your own shop, with your own tools, and stark naked!  I advise some protective footwear at least.

Of course I'll be here every step of the way answering your questions.  Ask any of my students, I'm always ready to help.


Shannon has hit the nail on the head with this school.  I got exactly what I needed in both hand plane instruction and wood species education from his videos.  And any other questions I had, he was quick to answer via email.


Join the Best Hand Tool Community on the Net

"The Shop Floor" is an extremely active community of your peers waiting for you to share your triumphs, project pictures, and to help you when you have troubles.  Even though Shannon is always around to help, you can also tap into this vibrant community of thousands or other woodworkers.  If you are struggling with a technique or  project, many of them are building the same thing or have already built it and can offer advice.

hand tool school community