Looking for a Place to Start Your Hand Tool Journey?

Orientation covers the basics.  I mean the fundamental basics.  This course is the product of running this school for 7 years and seeing where new woodworkers struggle and what questions they have.  It is structured in a way to get you building right away.  It suspends some of the paralysis by analysis questions and gets your working and building your skills with VERY few tools and no previous experience required.  

Using applied projects we learn about the basics of tool handling, joinery, and casework.  Then the 101 lessons back up the applied lessons and act like a reference glossary when you have additional questions on the tools and the wood we use.

In short, it is THE best place to start for a new woodworker interested in hand tools and looking to get their shop and tool arsenal set up quickly.

Start With Nothing...

This semester is truly no experience necessary.  If you watch the video above you will see that I'm serious about this and I left my well equipped shop and did all the work in a blank garage 600 miles from my home and all my tools (sniff)

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.  It is the push that gets you over the analysis paralysis and building very quickly.

...and Finish with a Workshop and Skills Ready to Build Much More

Projects, Lessons & Tools

  • Projects
  • Lessons
  • Tool List

Your Orientation Tool Kit

I give a lot more detail about these tools and why I chose them in the introductory video for this semester, but if you are curious about what you will need to complete the work in this semester, I made every attempt to source all of the tools from big box stores inexpensively with only a few exceptions.

hardware store saw

Hand Saw

I cut all the joinery and size all the parts using this impulse hardened tooth saw that I picked up at the Big Box store.  I do demonstrate using a back saw and Japanese Dozuki but neither are required.

Bevel Up Jack plane

Jack Plane

This is the one tool I recommend spending some money on.  The low angle Jack plane will be the workhorse of your tool kit and skipping the learning curve and going to a Veritas, WoodRiver, or Lie Nielsen plane will jump start your learning.

beginning chisels

3 Chisels

A 1", 3/4", and 1/4" chisel do all the work for mortise and tenon, bridles, and chopping, paring, and juggling.  

(okay maybe skip the juggling)

Brace and Bits

Brace & 3 Bits

Honestly a cordless drill from the hardware store will suffice here, but picking up an antique brace and some bits (1, 3/4, & 1/4") isn't expensive and the experience of boring by hand is worth this expense.

Basic Marking Tools & Miscellaneous Stuff

A hardware store combo square, a pocket knife, pencil and a couple of scrap boards to use a the occasional straight edge round out the set of tools.  Some cut nails and an inexpensive index of drill bits running from 1/16 to 1/4" for the nail pilot holes will give you a lot of flexibility.

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.

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

An Introductory Hand Tool Woodworking Course

Build a Workbench, Gather the Starting Tools You Need, Build a Tool Box to Hold them all

Build Skills that will launch a lifelong love of Hand Tool Woodworking