Monthly Archives: January 2016

Rosewood hinges part 1



We have committed to helping our junior maker Angus on his mission to win the world skills cabinet making event in Abu Dhabi 2017. One of the ways we plan to push is cabinet making skills forward is by setting him projects that allow deep practise of the core skills needed during the finals. Each project should test his ability not just to make accurately but also to problem solve and come up with efficient and accurate processes.

The first of these projects is a stationary box. As well as plenty of hand skills practise with the mitred dovetail joints, piston fit drawer and perfectly fitting lid this project has a very challenging element. To create a wooden hinge.


So far so good…..

The ‘keen amateur’

2016-01-13 11.07.15

We get all kinds of people wanting to spend time in our furniture school. From complete beginners to experienced woodworkers. So why would a keen amateur or even seasoned professional want to sign up for our courses? What do they get out of it?

Often a ‘keen amateur’ woodworker has invested in beautiful tools from the likes of Lie Nielsen, a wonderful tool manufacturer in the US. They have probably also invested in a home workshop and made a number of solid wood pieces of furniture. The thing is that teaching yourself the high level of craft that we aim for here at the furniture school without dedicated guidance is really tough. Reading articles in magazines, watching clips on You Tube (some of which we produce) are fantastic ways of gathering information. They allow many to achieve good results without the need for expensive tuition. In my opinion however, if your seeking that really high level of accuracy. If you really want to up your game as an amateur cabinet maker or even like the idea of taking your hobby and turning it into a way of making a living there really is no substitute for hands on tuition from a true master craftsman.

It’s for this reason that I think we get such interest from ‘keen amateur’ woodworkers. They have often struggled to cut that perfect dovetail joint. Struggled to get planes to produce perfect whispy shavings. Struggled to sharpen chisels to the point that joints can be finessed by hand and its our job to change that. It’s our┬ájob to up the game of every woodworker who spends time in our workshop.

How do we do it? We do this through dedicated one on one tuition. Firstly Graham, our head tutor has devised a brilliant method of teaching tool set up. The early stages of all our courses focus upon this. Getting the most from hand tools is key. Super sharp. Super flat. Super reliable and Super repeatable. If you think you knew how a plane should perform then it might be time to think again. This is a good thing. It’s the starting point. We teach our students how to get tools sharp and then we start the process of teaching their usage. We show the level of control that is possible and build the confidence within our students that our workshop standards of precision are achievable.

As the ‘keen amateur’ woodworker moves through our set projects we hope to provide a constant stream of revelatory moments. Realising that by following our methods things become simpler. Control is gained. A shaving here. A tiny adjustment with the chisel there. It’s this ability to make fine adjustments. This level of control that is only achievable through the combination of sound teachings and dedicated practise under the watchful eye of the master craftsman.

This is why ‘keen amateur’ woodworkers want to spend time within our school. This is why its time well spent.

Harry and the drawer fit.

On his return from the Christmas break Harry is straight into the intense process of drawer making and fitting. The traditional technique we use has been passed down from generation to generation of master craftsman. One day I plan to make a video detailing the technique but I guess there is an argument that when you run a furniture making school you should keep some of your secrets for those that invest the time and money to attend the courses.

I’m not going to detail the full process here but I will share some images of Harry getting stuck in.

2016-01-05 11.25.40

Harry starts by fitting the drawer backs to the drawer openings at the front of the carcase.

2016-01-05 11.26.37

He uses a shooting board and is aiming for absolute accuracy. A few shavings too many at this stage and the drawers will never be that perfect piston fit. The tolerances during drawer making and fitting are tiny so sharp tools, a high level of skill and the ability to be patient at the critical times are essential.

2016-01-05 11.24.17

And when the drawer backs are fitted its time to do the same for the drawer fronts…

2016-01-07 09.50.34

As you can see Harry has the grain running across multiple drawer fronts. If he doesn’t get this right the eyes will pick up on it in a flash and it just won’t look right.

2016-01-07 09.53.49

So far so good. Harry is quickly becoming an quick and accurate furniture maker. We expect good things from Harry.