Semester 3

Let's Build a Workbench and Some Other Stuff!

Semester 3 is all about slowing down on the new techniques and spending some time cementing the basics covered in semesters 1 and 2 by building. There may be some shop aid type projects that will pop up but this is about getting serious and building some furniture.

The strongest focus is on workbenches. How to design for your needs and how to build something this massive by hand. A good workbench is the most valuable tool in the hand tool shop and is a very personal item that needs to be built with only your own work in mind and not what anyone else says. Monster workbenches don’t work for everyone and we cover scaling your design to your space. While I build my Joinery Bench the lesson will cover more general workbench topics for the woodworker looking to build their first bench or their 5th bench. I wrap up this lesson with talk of what I call the Apartment Workbench that combines many features into a very small footprint.

From there it is on to build 2 smaller projects that emphasize basic joinery skills with a strong attention to detail that goes with creating fine furniture

An Unmatched Learning Experience

I firmly believe that if you build these projects you will be a better woodworker at the end of it.  You will also learn that hand tools can do things that power tool cannot, like working with big joinery necessary for workbenches.  I think that dedicating 4-6 months to get through all the lessons and projects is a reasonable goal as well.  

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.

Projects, Lessons & Tools

  • Lessons
  • Joinery Workbench
  • Shaker Wall Clock
  • Corner Cabinet
  • Tool List
hand cranked grinder

Lesson 1: Fixing Joinery

Now I know that all of you cut perfect joints every time, but I thought it would be good to take a close look at how one fixes those joints that you cut and just don’t line up square or in the same plane. 

Lesson 2: Sawing Analysis

This lesson will get into detail on things to look for in your own sawing and help you to be the type of sawyer that can split a line and dramatically speed up your work. 

Lesson 3: Workbench Design

 A strong workbench design with a “blank slate” chassis will allow you to adopt your bench to any type of work in the future. 

Lesson 4: Working with Large Parts

This lesson addresses techniques for dealing with long boards and thick timbers in the hand tool shop.

Lesson 5: Double Dovetail Joint

This joint was present on the original Roubo bench drawing and has become an almost iconic bench building joint. This lesson will show you how to do it by hand, possibly the only way short of an industrial sized shop.

Lesson 6: Boring Straight & True

Whether you are pegging tenons or creating precision holes for vises and joinery, knowing how to bore a hole by hand is essential. This will be a quick lesson but one whose principles will come into play in almost every project we tackle.

Lesson 7: Preparing for Finishing

The beauty of hand tools means that we need very little sandpaper and smoothing planes and scrapers can prepare most surfaces for finish. This lesson will go into detail how to prepare your surfaces for the perfect finish.

Lesson 8: Frame & Panel Construction

This construction technique is a great way to accommodate wood movement in your furniture. It can be made using “normal” width stock too which makes it a more affordable method. This lesson covers the variety of ways to join the frame and several ways to create and fit raised panels.

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