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Twelve Week Craftsman Program

Tuition: $9,750 Can
Please see our Calendar for dates
Pre-requisites: Open to everyone


Our Twelve Week Craftsman Program is designed to provide a continuous period of intensive, hands-on study for both those considering a career in furniture making, and individuals who wish to pursue the craft for personal satisfaction and development. They enjoy the advantage of an uninterrupted stretch of time to immerse themselves in their work, with a degree of continuity not available when taking shorter classes. Because each student arrives at Rosewood with a unique skill set, throughout these longer programs we encourage the improvement of existing skills, while ensuring that challenges are paced appropriately for each individual.

The initial six weeks provide students with a thorough grounding in the basic skills of fine furniture making. In application of the skill building exercises, participants will create a small table featuring tapered legs and a finely fit drawer built with hand-cut dovetails. After the first six weeks, students will have the skills gained and the experience of having taken a rough sawn board from lumber to a finely made piece of furniture they can be proud of.

The second half of the program ranges from the demonstration and practice of more advanced building techniques to matters of design and professional practice. During these six weeks, students will apply what they learn in the creation of three additional small pieces of furniture, each one designed to apply new skills and techniques. Students completing our twelve week program will come away with a solid understanding of both the fundamentals and some of the more advanced techniques of fine furniture making, the skills to build a finely crafted piece of furniture, and a realistic appreciation of the challenges to be met in pursuing furniture making as a career.
 

Curriculum Outline

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The program begins with an examination of traditional woodworking hand tools. Gaining proficiency with these will pay long-term dividends in your ability to create accurate work with speed and efficiency. We begin with hand planes; their varieties, configurations and uses. We go over how to select your plane from the many on the market, then tune and sharpen them for optimum performance. We finish with a “perfect board” exercise, where each student takes a board from rough sawn to six square and ready for finish using only hand planes. Each student will also make and learn the use of a shooting board as a means of trimming perfectly clean and square end grain surfaces.
 
We undergo a similar process with the rest of our hand tools including chisels, scrapers, spokeshaves and handsaws. As the program proceeds, students will also use a variety of layout, marking and measuring tools and techniques in order to create accurate components and minimize measuring errors. An examination of choices in tool steels is wrapped up with a discussion of annealing, shaping, hardening and tempering our own custom cutting tools using simple and commonly available equipment and materials.
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The ability to safely, accurately and efficiently use machinery is an essential skill in most furniture making shops. We cover the safe operation, set up and maintenance of common wood shop machinery including the band saw, table saw, radial arm saw, jointer, planer, mortiser, drill press and hand power tools. The breaking out and selection of materials is covered in depth, with particular attention to the selection of material from the standpoint of both aesthetics and physical properties. The use of cabinetmaker’s marks to maintain orientation of parts, and variations in the order of milling operations are examined with an eye towards safety and efficiency as students learn the process of creating accurate components from rough lumber using  machinery. Finally, we look at the selection of machinery for the small shop, whether for professional or personal use, as well as dust control and management and efficient and practical shop layout.
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Traditional joinery techniques have been utilized for hundreds of years, and have stood the test of time as furniture has passed from generation to generation. We demonstrate, then have students put into practice, a range of joinery used in fine furniture making. We start with the mortise and tenon joint - blind, through, haunched, wedged, floating, draw-bored, angled and doubled, as well as variations like bridle joints and breadboard ends. Carcass joints come next; dado, rabbet, spline, shiplap, tongue and groove. Of course no examination of joinery would be complete without the hallmark of craftsmanship, the dovetail, whether through, lapped or tapered-sliding. In addition to traditional joinery techniques, we will also look at more contemporary fastening methods including dowels, biscuits and pocket screws. Adhesives and their application form an important component of long lasting joinery: we will cover gluing and clamping strategies, as well as the variety of adhesives available to the furniture maker, their characteristics and applications.
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Drawer making and fitting round out the basic techniques of solid wood furniture making. Students are shown a step-by-step process for constructing a well fit drawer in solid wood. We look at the use of drawer slips, material selection to minimize seasonal movement and binding, and the fitting of drawers to compensate for out of square carcasses and allow for inevitable seasonal variations.

  In the second half of the twelve week program, more advanced processes and projects are introduced during the construction of three additional small pieces of furniture, giving students experience with a wide variety of techniques that provide more creative options. Straight and tapered bent laminations, steam bending, kerf bending, the use of bending ply and stack laminating are all processes that can be used to create surfaces and components that depart from a flat plane.
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In constructing a small wall hung cabinet, students gain experience cutting traditional haunched mortise and tenon raised panel doors using both machine and hand tool techniques. The door of the cabinet is carefully inset and hinged with tight tolerances befitting a finely made cabinet, and fit with a lathe turned wooden pull and hidden magnetic catches. The back of the cabinet features shiplapped construction, and custom made moldings introduce the use of scratch stocks for profiling edge details, and a decorative dentil molding is applied. Flush and secure mounting to a wall is achieved with the use of a hidden French cleat.

A round occasional table comes next, using bent laminations and template routed curved legs. Alternative techniques for creating curved components are also covered, including straight and tapered bent laminations, steam bending, kerf bending, the use of bending ply and stack laminating. These are all processes that can be used to create surfaces and components that depart from a flat plane.
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Finally, veneering techniques and vacuum pressing of both flat and curved panels are utilized in the creation of the top of the round occasional table and an additional small, contemporary bow front cabinet featuring shop sawn veneers and a curved door.


Upon completion of the 12-Week Craftsman Program, students will have gained solid experience and understanding of a wide range of fine furniture making techniques, as well as an introduction to the design of finely made contemporary furniture and a realistic view of the challenges of working professionally.
Hand Tool List

Complete tool kits are available for student use free of charge, but attendees are welcome to bring any of the tools listed below that they already own. We suggest however, that you do not go out and buy new tools until after attending the class.  

- #4 smoothing plane
- #5 jack plane
- adjustable mouth block plane
- shoulder plane
- router plane
- set of bevel edge chisels
- small chisel hammer
- dovetail saw
- 12" combination square
- 2" engineer square
- small bevel gauge
- marking gauge
- chip carving knife
- honing guide
- water stones            
- card scrapers
- scraper burnisher
- 10" bastard cut flat mill file
- large flat head screwdriver
- 12' measuring tape
- pencils
- Sharpie marker
- #4 smoothing plane
- #5 jack plane
- adjustable mouth block plane
- shoulder plane
- router plane
- set of bevel edge chisels
- small chisel hammer
- dovetail saw
- card scrapers
- scraper burnisher
- 10" bastard cut flat mill file
- large flat head screwdriver
- 12' measuring tape
- pencils
- Sharpie marker

- 12" combination square
- 2" engineer square
- small bevel gauge 
- marking gauge
- chip carving knife
- honing guide
- water stones