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.
Projects, Lessons & 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.
Lesson 3: Planecraft 101
- How a plane works
- Essential techniques to go from rough sawn board to flat on 6 faces
Lesson 4: Dados, Rabbets & Grooves
- Establish your ability to make straight and square cuts using very few tools
Lesson 5: Half Laps
- Build on basic sawing skills by learning to cut 3 types of half laps.
Lesson 6: Mortise & Tenons
- Learn to cut this iconic joint well and you can build just about anything
Lesson 7: Miters
- Learn to strengthen the joint 3 different ways.
Lesson 8: Dovetails
- Dispels the myths and lays out a simple method to quickly make air tight dovetails
Lesson 9: Sliding Dovetails
- This lesson illustrates 4 methods for making sliding dovetails:
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:
Lesson 12: Build Without a Plan
- No more cut lists and exacting measurements of the power tool work
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.
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!
Virtual School? Support?
Yep this is all virtual instruction using video, PDFs, and good old fashioned community forums. But I'm never more than an email away or a private message through the forum. Plus there are LOTS of woodworkers active every day in our Community that are ready and willing to help you as your skills grow.
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.
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.
Join the Best Hand Tool Community on the Net
"The Shop Floor" is an extremely active community of your peers waiting for you to share your triumphs, project pictures, and to help you when you have troubles. Even though Shannon is always around to help, you can also tap into this vibrant community of thousands or other woodworkers. 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.