Build Your Fundamental Hand Tool Skills
& Make Yourself a Better Woodworker
Semester 1 is an introductory hand tool woodworking online course and assumes no prior woodworking experience. It will take a small kit of tools and walk the woodworker through all the fundamental skills to build furniture. Each lesson lays out a technique, provides practice exercises, then applies that technique in a simple shop project.
These projects require little wood and don’t have to be of museum quality. They are jigs and appliances that the hand tool woodworker will reach for time and again while working in the shop. Each lesson builds off the previous until the end of the semester when every small project and technique work together to build an heirloom tool cabinet to store all your new hand tools.
Two Payment Options Available
Give the Gift of Semester 1
We will send you a gift redemption code and a fancy PDF gift certificate
I needed a structured program that would walk me through the process of learning hand tool woodworking from the very beginning at whatever pace I desired. The Hand Tool School was a perfect match for what I needed. It provides me a very detailed step by step curriculum with lessons that are thorough, detailed, and entertaining. Plus they build on each other so you constantly have that skill reinforcement.
Member Since 2012
Work at Your Own Pace
What makes the lesson in The Hand Tool School so effective is that they never go away. When you buy a semester you have lifetime access to the material. No need to worry about cramming in all the content before access goes away or how much it will cost you in monthly fees to get through all the material. And there is A LOT of material in Semester 1.
Unlike brick and mortar classes, there is no start time and no need to take vacation time or travel to a location. With The Hand Tool School you can work at 2 AM in your own shop, with your own tools, and stark naked! I advise some protective footwear at least.
Moreover, I think that being able to stop and rewind, or skip to a specific section makes this type of learning even more effective than the whirlwind, fire hose feeding that comes from trying to cram 6 months of instruction into a week long class. The techniques taught in semester 1 will be used forever and on every single project you tackle so why not give yourself the best opportunity to absorb and master those skills.
Lessons, Projects, & Tools
- Applied Projects
- Final Project
- Tool List
Lesson 1: Setting Up Shop
- Learn how to set up your workspace
- What tools are needed
- Introduction to milling boards by hand
Lesson 2: Sawing
- Learn about the various types of saws and cuts you can make by hand.
- How saws cut and tooth geometry
- Learn to saw to a line
- Correct your cut when it goes awry
Lesson 3: Planecraft 101
- How a plane works
- Essential techniques to go from rough sawn board to flat on 6 faces
- Learn to create square and parallel faces
Lesson 4: Dados, Rabbets & Grooves
- Establish your ability to make straight and square cuts using very few tools
- Alternate methods to make them using more specialized tools
Lesson 5: Half Laps
- Build on basic sawing skills by learning to cut 3 types of half laps:
- Dovetail laps
- Hidden laps
Lesson 6: Mortise & Tenons
- Learn to cut this iconic joint well and you can build just about anything
- Covers standard, through, and wedged mortise and tenon joints
- Chopping and Drilling mortises both covered
Lesson 7: Miters
- Learn to strengthen the joint 3 different ways.
- Use the Miter Shooter from lesson 4
- Make a sharpening stone pond with mitered corners.
Lesson 8: Dovetails
- Dispels the myths and lays out a simple method to quickly make air tight dovetails
- Covers standard and half blind dovetails
- Put you skills to use making a hanging Saw Til.
Lesson 9: Sliding Dovetails
- This lesson illustrates 4 methods for making sliding dovetails:
- Tapered, Untapered, Stopped, and Through sliding dovetails
- Discuss multiple methods for shaping tails and pins
Lesson 10: Inlay
- This lesson turns to embellishment and shows how to inlay patches to cover mistakes and to add a decorative element to your work.
Lesson 11: Planecraft 201
- Review of planing techniques
- Apply them to 3 real life board scenarios to teach you how to:
- Create panels
- Wide, and long boards
- Flattening a 12/4 x 18 x 102″ difficult grained African Mahogany slab.
Lesson 12: Build Without a Plan
- No more cut lists and exacting measurements of the power tool work
- Relative dimensioning and changing designs to accommodate the inexactitude of hand milled pieces.
Each project is design to only employ the skills covered in the respective lesson so you can apply what you have learned while building on skills from previous lessons.
Flatten Your First Board and square it on 6 sides then cut a rabbet and inlay with a chisel
Use only a saw and 3 types of precision cuts to make one of the most useful shop tools
Revisit milling a board and glue them together to make your first panel
Use grooves to create interlocking joinery then layout and cut precision guide slots
Cut a boatload of dados, then do another boat load using several techniques
Miter Shooting Board
Pair a wide dado with grooves, and milling boards in this project
Use two kinds of half laps and milling (again) for this square.
Employ a typical mortise and tenon, then a drawbore, and finally a wedged through tenon.
1 miter is easy but 4 in a frame is where the test lies
Through dovetails, half blind dovetails and a lot of milling on this project
Get your feet wet with sliding dovetails by making a tiny through, sliding dovetail
Practice diamond inlay and get some mortising practice on this project
Use relative dimensions and a myriad of joints on this project
Final Project: Hanging Tool Cabinet
This piece is a monster with plenty of storage to accommodate your tool kit now and long into the future. During construction every technique from semester 1 will be put to the test. Build this piece and consider it your graduation gift and a testament of your newly won hand tool skills.
Semester 1 Tool Kit
A basic set of tools is needed for all the lessons and projects in Semester 1. This simple and compact kit will get you started in a big way!
The Minimalist Tool Kit
Tools can be expensive so starting with this much smaller kit can help you avoid breaking the bank and build skills with utility function tools.
An Unmatched Learning Experience
I firmly believe that if you follow each lesson, do the practice exercises, and build the projects you will be a better woodworker at the end of it. I think that dedicating 4-6 months to get through all the lessons and projects is a reasonable goal as well.
Of course I'll be here every step of the way answering your questions. Ask any of my students, I'm always ready to help.
Shannon Rogers is a dedicated and caring woodworking instructor who is invested in growing the craft and his students.
When I was looking to buy a couple handsaws online, I asked Shannon for advice. He was extremely knowledgeable about the vintage saws in question, but also took the time to look at the listing and provide me extensive and insightful comments in a timely fashion. He even sent me a piece of 16/4 Cherry from his own stash when I made a mistake building my workbench!!
He cares deeply about his students and building a supportive community. If you are just starting out, or a seasoned hand tool woodworker, Shannon has something to offer. I recommend the Hand Tool School without reservation!
Member Since 2013
With quick responses via forum posts, emails, and even the occasional video to directly address student questions and problems, Shannon makes the learning process personal. It's the closest thing to private instruction in a digital format!
Member Since 2014
But there is also a community of your peers waiting for you to share your triumphs, project pictures, and to help you when you have troubles. If you are struggling with a technique or project, many of them are building the same thing or have already built it and can offer advice.
If you can find a 4-6 month woodworking class that covers this much information and helps you apply those skills for less than $200, then jump on it and let me know how it goes.