Hand Tool Woodworking
Learn from Master Craftsmen

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.

Note: In 2012 we made an 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 Woodworkerwe're expanding our range of hand tool classes.  

Getting Started: Classes for Novices or Woodworkers new to Hand Tool Woodworking

  • Basics of Woodworking - Weekends January - February 2014
    Four weekend classes that give you an introduction to hand tools and hand tool woodworking.

  • Handtool Heaven 
    April 14-18, May 12-16, June 23-27, August 4-8, September 15-19, 2014 
    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 21-May 3  &  August 11-15, 2014
    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

  • Japanese Carpentry - July 28-August 2, 2014 
    Japanese tools are capable of scary precision when fully tuned. The Japanese hand plane requires more care and maintenance than western hand planes. Learn the art from master craftsman Dale Brotherton.

Master Classes with Garrett Hack

  • Precision with Hand Tools – September 1-5, 2014
    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.

  • Cabinet Curiosities - September 8-12, 2014
    Design and build a small cabinet as you explore the design, details, and challenges of solid wood construction before starting on much larger pieces. You’ll delve into strong case joinery, choosing appropriate materials, dealing with wood movement, securing shelves and backs, making and attaching moldings, case corner details,making and hinging doors, and if there is time, make drawers. 




"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


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Port Townsend School of Woodworking and Preservation Trades Copyright © 2007-2014. All rights reserved.

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.