Do You Want to Learn How to Use Hand Tools?
I firmly believe that adding fundamental hand techniques to your skill set will make you a better woodworker. A woodworker not tied to machine capacity limits, fences, and jigs. Woodworking is simply about working to a line and your hand tools can saw, plane, and chisel to that line with great precision. The Hand Tool School is an Online Woodworking School that's like a virtual apprenticeship. We teach how to use hand tools to build furniture or whatever else you can dream of.
I’m not a purist that feels no power tools should be used, but embracing a hand tooled approach might surprise you by just how little those machines actually are needed.
A Step by Step Hand Tool Course
Currently there is over 600 hours of video instruction in the school library. But it is not just random technique videos. Our "Semesters" provide a structured curriculum that guides you in a logical path from hand tool zero to hand tool hero! Add to this complete furniture projects, fun shop projects, stand alone technique tutorials, and live Q&A Office Hours each month. Everything you need to understand, sharpen, use, and love hand tools.
Taking a Woodworking Class Has Never Been This Easy
Face to face, classroom instruction is outstanding. But making that happen is easier said than done. First is taking the time off from work and family to attend a class, then is the cost of the class, room/board/travel. Finally you learn to build something in someone else's shop with someone else's tools only to come back home and be unable to duplicate what you just learned.
The Hand Tool School has been designed to tackle one skill at a time and allow you to slowly build your tool kit as your skills demand. In fact the applied projects after each lesson strive to utilize only that specific skill and tool/s to build the project. You learn in your shop, at your pace, with your tools, in your bunny slippers.*
*The Hand Tool School does not recommend bunny slippers without steel toes
The hand tool school has been an amazing resource. The first few semesters are a video anthology of how to accomplish any task by hand. I used to dread sawing by hand and was totally incapable of getting square cuts. With Shannon’s (video) tutelage, I’m a confident sawyer and repeat the Hand Tool School mantra to everyone: If you can see the line, you can saw to the line.
Member since 2014
What I have learned and continue to learn and enjoy on your site is incredibly exciting and meaningful.
My hand tool workshop provides the healing balance I need in my life.
I am deeply grateful!
Member since 2018
What's Inside the School?
Structured Course Semesters
These offer a step by step series of lessons and applied projects for a truly comprehensive learning experience. Each lesson introduces a skill, applies it in by building a useful shop project, then sets you up for the next lesson. Each lesson then builds on the last, fleshing out your skill set in bite sized chunks. Following a semester curriculum will teach you new techniques and cement them with applied exercises. This seriously kills the daunted feel of trying to learn everything at once.
Starting with a blank space and using only a handful of readily available tools, we build a workbench, tool box, marking gauge, and bench hooks while learning about planing, sawing, and chisels. The perfect place to get started.
Leave behind the straight and square and look at cutting curves, sculpting them, and a thorough look at making mouldings by hand. Then we build 2 furniture projects using your new found love of curves and mouldings.
Woodturning...by treadle power. This semester looks at both spring pole and flywheel lathes and we build both. Then dedicate lessons to spindle and faceplate turning. Along the way we turn a beautiful Shaker pedestal table.
You have a workbench and the start of a tool collection, so let's build some furniture. These 3 projects are a good representation of some of the first projects you will want to build as a new woodworker. Casework, mortise & tenons, and designing from a photograph are all skills learned here...and you build 3 great projects that actually don't live in the shop.
Workbenches are the theme here as we examine the large scale joinery needed and the elements of a workbench that you need for your own style of woodworking.
We step away from technique lessons and just build some stuff. An entire guest bedroom suite to be exact. Four post bed, side table, wall mirror, and blanket chest. Lots of applied joinery lessons, carving, inlay, fretwork, veneering, oh my!
Now we go deep into joinery with dedicated lessons and projects for the 6 top joints in woodworking. Plus an in depth look at milling boards flat. 12 lessons that culminate in an epic tool cabinet project
Compound angled joinery is the theme of this semester as we tackle mortise and tenons and the fabled compound angle dovetail. We even do a little woodcarving. We also build 2 full projects: a mobile toolbox/workbench and an elegant splay legged drop leaf table.
Technique and Skill Lessons
As of this writing, there is an archive of over 300 videos that focus on a specific joint, skill, technique, problem, or whatever that may come up along your journey to hand tool nirvana. These lessons are suggested by you, the student, and created by me to answer the questions that pop up that are not already covered by the existing library. I also take an hour each month to fire up my live streaming gear and do a live broadcast. I call it Office Hours. Here I answer questions, demonstrate things that come up in the chat room or are emailed in. These broadcasts are recorded and also go into the lesson archive. So in other words, the number of lessons grows every month.
Here is Just a Sample of a Few Lessons:
Spot Planing Method
Vacuum Press Veneering
Full Blind Dovetails
Principles of Functional Design
Fox Wedged Tenons
Restoring Vintage Moulding Planes
Projects, Community, Tool Library & Sharpening Videos
You get still more with The Hand Tool School experience!
- Projects! Sometimes I just want to build something and don't want to wrap a Semester course structure around it. So these projects are simply that, bonus stuff that I show you how I build it.
- The Community is the lifeblood of the whole thing. Every day thousands of woodworkers are sharing their questions, projects, triumphs, and knitting patterns (looking at you Rob!). You have a question? You can get an answer in minutes. No judgement, no trolls. Its the happiest, most helpful hand tool place on the Net.
- The Tool Library is a series of articles that covers all the various hand tools and why you MUST have them. I include buying guide videos as well to help you make sense of everything.
- Sharpening is certainly a gateway skill for hand tool success so I've collected a series of videos on the topic that will show you how to sharpen any type of tool using a wide variety of sharpening media...I've tried them all.
I just use diamond stones now and a leather strop. Why? Enroll and find out!
I enjoy both the technique lessons and complete projects presented in The Hand Tool School. I have learned many new things, even things I already thought I knew. Most especially patience and body mechanics. Looking forward to many more years as an Apprentice.
Member since 2018
I know that if your school didn’t exist I would have never been able to learn woodworking as much as I did. Thank you for creating this space for all the lost woodworking souls out there; and inspiring me to keep building things, and pushing myself to the limit.
Member since 2017
Meet the Team
Glue Pot Keeper/Head Tool Monkey
The guy in the videos, he used power tools for years then forgot how to plug things in 15 years ago. Watch Shannon's Origin story...no radioactive spiders but maybe a Proton Pack
Shop Dog/Shaving Inspector
In charge of warming a spot on the floor and cleaning the shop. If it falls to the floor, he will try to eat it. Usually he makes sure that Shannon takes plenty of breaks to throw toys and take walks.
Hand Tool Goodness is Just a Click Away
Try it for a month and you will see that The Hand Tool School has everything you need to learn woodworking using hand tools. And it grows every day as I add weekly tips, technique lessons, and continue to build new semester course. Plus you get access to the friendliest, most helpful, sexiest community of woodworkers around. Our VERY active community is always there to help.