Hand Tool Furnituremaking
with Garrett Hack

We're delighted that Garrett teaches at the School and we're offering three classes with Garrett in 2013: Silky Smooth Drawers, Decorative Details, and Precision with Hand Tools.

Garrett is that rare craftsman who has a gift for teaching; the ability to improve your knowledge and understanding of hand tools; and the experience to challenge you in furniture design.

Garrett has set up his life around his craft - he uses wood felled and air dried at his home in Vermont. He matches the lumber from that stock to the project and then builds and finishes the project quickly and efficiently. This approach requires good shop discipline and a good understanding of all processes involved. Garrett is generous in sharing his experience.

You'll gain most from Garrett's classes if you're already using hand tools and have begun to build a good set of tools. The Precision Course is a great way to start the transition to more advanced use of hand tools.

Images from Garrett's 2010 Class

Level: Intermediate

Precision with Hand Tools
September 16-18, 2013

Hand tools open new vistas of efficiency, accuracy, and enjoyment for woodworkers, even those with modest skills.

In this course, Garrett leads participants through a series of exercises, based on typical furniture making techniques, which expand and refine their hand tool skills. These include flattening boards to polished smoothness, fairing curves, fitting drawer faces, making moldings, chamfering edges, and cutting joinery, among other skills.

Garrett covers tuning and use of a wide variety of planes, marking tools, chisels and saws. Participants are encouraged to work with several different kinds of wood to feel the way each responds to the tools. More experienced students may choose more complex challenges such as shaping a bowed drawer face, joining and smoothing a coopered panel, or tapering a leg and then fitting an angled joint to it

If you are planning on bringing your own tools which we recommend please review Garrett's Tool List - you don't need to bring all these tool to the Precision Class. We'll update the list to the minimal set of tools you'll need to bring.

Plus you are welcome to use the School's tools. Each workbench is equipped with a set of Lee Valley / Veritas tools and had a good selection of teaching hand tools. However you will learn a lot more if you bring your own tools and learn to tune them under Garrett's watchful eye.

Class size:           10 
Cost:                $450
Materials:          $35
Dates:              Sept 16-18, 2013

Class description and registration:   Precision with Hand Tools


Level: Intermediate / Advanced

Design and Build a Side Table

From one of Garrett's early mails to us:

"What I am finding more and more is that what might seem like a simple project to you and I — such as a small splay legged side table— has so many places to go with the design and construction, that it could easily be a 5 day project. You bring in design in so many ways,  making tapered legs, working from patterns, sizing and smoothing parts with planes, joinery, tabletops, leg shape, drawers, etc. You can see I like this one. They can alter the height, width, depth to suit their needs."

We liked these ideas a lot.  So we asked Garrett for a little more detail. Here's his response:

"We start by designing tables, and drawing those designs.  Individual tables can vary in many dimensions, woods, tabletop overhang, details, drawer -  no drawer, but each has similar joinery.

As you can see from my description quoted above, the table is the excuse to:
  • Use hand tools
  • Develop a leg shape, make a pattern of it, and then make 4 similar legs (which taper from top to toe);
  • Try angled leg to apron joints and splaying table legs
  • Cut and fit mortise and tenon joints;
  • Shape the edges of the tabletop into gentle curves, with underbevels and chamfers
  • Smooth every surface off the plane to a polish;
  • Make a scratchstock to shape a side bead or cockbead detail at the bottom of the table aprons.
We will talk about tuning tools, sharpening if we need to, and hand tools techniques. Mostly the students will learn these as they work."

Our expectation for Intermediate to Advanced students that you can prepare the lumber for the course. We'll share a cutlist and stock preparation guidance well before the class so that you can prepare the blanks ahead of time so that we maximize the amount of time you spend at the bench rather than working in the machine room.

We'll encourage you to choose easy to work with native North American hard woods. Air dried stock works best with hand tools and we'll help you track down sources. We'd ask you to skip the temptation to bring exotic hardwoods - many of them are sensitizers and can induce allergic reactions. Please check with us if you plan to bring along something other than a local hardwood. The cutlist is here.

You should plan to bring your own tools to the class so that you can work with Garrett to better tune and to get a better idea of their capabilities. You can bring along your own sharpening stones if you wish to learn to use them better.  Garrett's tool list

Class size:     10  

(Not offered in 2013)


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200 Battery Way | Fort Worden | Port Townsend, WA 98368 | (360) 344-4455 | email

The Port Townsend School of Woodworking and Preservation Trades is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit. Any donations made to the School are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.