We really enjoy teaching woodworkers the very best ways that we have found to make handtools work the way they were designed to work: with speed, precision, and a surprisingly low demand on muscle power.
Hand tools force you to have a different relationship both to the tool and to the wood itself. The grain direction forces you to use the correct cutting direction and you can feel the tool react to any change of grain direction. You are also aware of when the blade dulls and the effort to use the hand tool increases. Sharpening and keeping a tool tuned are core skills needed by every woodworker.
We argue that if you can do all the woodworking operations using handtools you will have a much better understanding of how to do the same operation using power tools.
Taking any or all of these classes will help you become a better woodworker.
(1/25/2012) We've just made a major upgrade in the hand tools at the School. A combination of a gifts of old hand tools and purchases of new tools means that each workbench now has a full complement of jack planes, fore planes, carcass saws, mortice chisels, mallets, marking gauges and hold downs! We've expanded the range of teaching tools to include floats, plow planes and a range of hand saws. Get to experience the full range of traditional hand tools.
Handtool Woodworking with Jim Tolpin & Faculty
After the very positive reaction to Jim's new book - The New Tradtional Woodworker - we're expanding our range of hand tool classes.
Getting Started: Classes for Novices or Woodworkers new to Hand Tool Woodworking
Handtool Heaven - April 15-19, June 10-14 and August 5-9, 2013
Jim Tolpin's signature course. Discover the joy of working without dust and noise. Learn to use a handsaw, chisels and planes to dimension, finish and join wood while making bench tools.
Got the basics under control? Take one of our next level courses.
You may have taken one of the introductory classes above or have self-studied and done the projects in Jim Tolpin's "The New Traditional Woodworker". This class is designed to build on those skills and provide a mentored environment to explore further. We provide both techniques and project classes:
- Hand Tool Joinery Essentials - April 29-May 3 and August 12-16, 2013
Learn the joinery techniques and construction principles to build furniture using only hand tools. Dovetails, draw-bore mortics and tenons, and frame and panel construction.
Ready to stretch yourself? Classes with Master Woodworkers:
Japanese Woodworking with Dale Brotherton
Moulding Planes with Matt Bickford
Hand Tool Intensive with Chris Schwarz
Master Classes with Garrett Hack
Precision with Hand Tools – September 16-18, 2013
Learn to flatten boards to polished smoothness, fair curves, fit drawer faces, make moldings, chamfer edges and cut joinery, and more, while using a wide variety of planes,marking tools, chisels, and saws.
Decorative Details - September 19-20, 2013
Decorate your furniture with small intricate patterns of ebony, silver, shell or other exotic materials, after first making some of the necessary tools – micro chisels and scratch stocks.
Help us develop a Handtool Woodworking Curriculum
We're starting to build a hand tool woodworking curriculum. This will help us to develop and offer classes that continue to grow your skills as a hand tool woodworker and allow you to assess your progress as you develop as a hand tool woodworker.
There's a tip of the hat to some the traditional European notions of apprenticeship in this curriculum and we'd welcome your thoughts and comments. You can read it and email us or you can help us write the document. Click on the link:
Towards a Hand Tool Curriculum
(Takes you to Google Docs)
"I can now do by hand many of the things I have been doing with noisy, dusty machines.
And I can do it better.” -- Don Stromberg
"I am delighted by what we learned, a practical understanding of how to build something using mostly hand-tools, and I am deeply pleased by how we learned, in a safe and supportive environment without pressure or constraint." -- Deborah Rosenberg
"This is truly a class that anyone could take—whatever your skill level learning will happen! I am looking forward to practicing all I have learned at home. I experience great joy as I put together my first joint—Lots of fun and very rewarding!" –Kristi Schroots
"Well timed instruction with clear explanations and lots of demonstrations. Rather than showing all the steps at once, the instructors showed each step after completing the previous step. The pace was fast enough to hold interest, but slow enough to allow for “corrections”. We were able to correct mistakes without feeling bad or incompetent—this is an art in teaching!" --Greg Hoerner
"The course was perfect: Careful, detailed instruction; superb individual attention; and the facility couldn’t be better (and the cookies were great too!)." –Gene Trobaugh