Project Description


Short Courses

1 week ‘Taster’ hand tools course.

This ever popular one week course was designed to offer prospective attendees of our Designer Maker courses a feel for what they are get themselves into but it has rapidly developed into a course all aspiring furniture makers can enjoy.  As such this intense week dives right into the precision world of fine furniture making by focussing intently on the high level use of hand tools. Every cabinet maker who wants to work at a high level needs to master the use of hand tools and during this 5 day course we look to build skills rather than make a complex piece of furniture. Its about skill building and getting the building blocks working to our exceptionally high standards.

No prior experience is required and we have had total beginners as well as experienced makers all on the same course and all expressing how much they have gained from the experience.

We start with the preparation of planes and chisels which can often sound a little dull but really is one of the most important lessons for anyone attending the school. It’s also much more fun than it sounds. The sight and sound of fine shavings coming off a finely tuned hand plane is very very special! But I digress. We follow a system of flattening and sharpening developed by tutor Graham Loveridge. Graham developed this system durning his first few years working as a tutor in the school. He’d noticed how students were struggling for consistency with their tool prep and in particular sharpening and so he worked hard to develop a system that brought accurate and repeatable results for all our students. The results are incredible and in these first few days of the course we often hear our students expressing disbelief at the way in which they are now able to use their tools. There’s no longer room for our students to blame their tools so it’s then on to gaining control of both hand planes and chisels which are without doubt the bed rock skills of fine furniture makers.

Following a series of carefully designed projects our students spend 5 days building skill. We start with the creation of an octagonal bread board which is based on an apprentice project that has been used for generations at the Arts and Crafts workshops of Edward Barnsley. This project allows our students to gain control of their hand plane and the feeling of planing in the large chamfer details is just a joy. We then move on to the Chinese puzzle project. This time the skills we are building relate to accurate making and measuring but most importantly gaining control of chisels. The ability to mark a crisp line and then pare to that line with a razor sharp chisel really is a foundation skill that all makers require. It allows a maker to create joints to a high standard and even when our long course students move on to using machine tools for much of the joinery they produce they will often need to fall back on these corse skills. And if they couldn’t reach for a chisel in order to make fine adjustments they just couldn’t create work to the standard we strive for here at Waters and Acland.

The crowning glory of our ‘Taster’ week is to have a go at cutting dovetail joints by way of the dovetailed book end project. We don’t put pressure on our students to get to this point as the week is very much about building the skills that make this a possibility but if time allows it we give it a go. The beauty of this project and cutting dovetails in general is that they are a real test of the skills learned on the course. They require accurate planing to size the stock. Precision marking and measuring. Controlled sawing technique. Paring to lines with absolute accuracy. And maybe most importantly of all an understanding of all these techniques in specific relation to the piece of wood you are working. If you can hand cut a dovetail joint to Waters and Acland standards then you will be a proud and happy furniture maker.

Course cost: £725

Course availability: Please get in touch for current availability.

It’s worth noting that all students attending this course need to bring a hand plane and small selection of chisels of high quality. If you don’t own these already we will gladly provide advice as to which tools to buy or if easier we can purchase these tools on your behalf and they will be ready and waiting on your work bench.

Feel free to get in touch if you have further questions.

An exciting woodworking journey awaits!

More courses coming soon

We are currently developing additional 1 week and weekend courses due to launch in summer 2022. Keep checking in on the site for updates or feel free to get in touch if you have specific requirements that you would like to discuss. Bespoke one on one or small group courses are also a possibility.