Foundations in the fine art of cabinet making
Where traditional tools and techniques, meet modern sensibilities and design.
The opportunity to develop a foundation in the fine art of cabinet making.
Semester 1 - Artisan:October 10th, 2017 to December 15th, 2017 - January 2nd, 2017 to March 10th, 2017 - April 3rd, 2017 to June 9th, 2017.
Semester 2 - Maker: January 2nd, 2017 to March 10th, 2017.
Semester 3 - Designer: April 3rd, 2017 to June 9th, 2017.
From the historic methods described by André Jacob Roubo in the 1700’s, you’ll study tools and techniques used centuries ago. We’ll then fast forward three hundred years, and find inspiration and motivation from the impractical teachings of James Krenov.
You'll begin your journey with the Artisan Program and we're now offering entry points at three different times of the year.
For students who may want to do multiple Programs consecutively, we offer an October entry. You can then proceed into the Maker and Designer Programs from there.
For students who wish to only attend the Artisan Program, you can also join us in October, or one of our two other entry times in January and/or April.
The Artisan Program is intensive, 9-5 Monday to Friday, with Thursday nights and Saturday afternoon shop times delegated for self guided learning.
During these first 10 weeks, you’ll discover the tools, materials, methods and techniques we use here at The Unplugged Woodshop. The fundamental skills involved in furniture making, using only hand tools, will be yours to discover, practice and develop. Through a deliberate and methodical approach to working wood with your hands, you’ll gain valuable insight into the process and techniques used in the fine art of cabinetmaking.
An Introduction to Sharpening and Dimensioning Rough Lumber by Hand
Day 1: On the first day of your journey, we’ll begin with the basics.
Learning about the tools you’ll use throughout the course of your training, and the steps you’ll take to maintain them.
From oil and wax to adjusting the throat and setting the iron, the hand plane will quickly become an extension of your arms, capable of rough dimensioning the most difficult woods, to final smoothing and polishing to a mirror-like surface.
You’ll learn how to sharpen plane irons and chisels, and see how we maintain and care for these tools so they operate at optimum performance for the duration of your journey with us.
We’ll look at the mediums we use and the methods we practice. From sharpening stones to honing guides, effective pitch and the techniques used to flatten and smooth wood.
In the early afternoon, you’ll prepare the Hock irons you’ll be using for the wood planes you’ll be making in week two of your journey.
Day 2: On the morning of your second day, we’ll look at the woods we use and the options we have when carefully selecting materials.
You’ll discover how wood is sold and measured, what to look for and where to find it. We’ll discuss the benefits of using local materials, and why it gives you a much better chance at a successful project. You’ll select the stock you’ll be using for your cabinet projects and start studying the grain patterns before ‘composing’ your cabinet parts.
In the afternoon, we’ll begin with a discussion about design, and focus on the layout and the joinery. You’ll learn how to make full-scale drawings and templates, an essential skill you’ll carry with you for the rest of your days building fine furniture.
Day 3: On day three of your first week, you’ll learn how to make ‘a perfect board’.
An age old exercise to six side a board using only hand tools. You’ll discover the process and realize the tolerances we’re able to work to when the proper care and attention is practiced.
Day 4 & 5: On day four and five, you’ll make a cut list and begin laying out your cabinet parts.
Paying close attention to grain direction, you’ll learn about ‘composing’ with wood. From that point, you’ll be ready to start rough dimensioning the cabinet parts you’ll be using in week three of your journey. From rough sawing to planing, taking your parts closer to their finished dimensions.
You’ll also prepare the blanks for the wood planes you’ll be making in week two.
Making Wooden Planes
In the second week of our program, you’ll build two variations of the most used tool in the woodshop - the hand plane. The response you get from a wood plane is altogether different from when you are working with metal hand planes. The tactile feeling absorbed through the sole of a perfectly flattened and polished wooden hand tool you made yourself is a satisfying and liberating experience. Simply put, wood on wood just feels good!
“My simple message is that if you’re going to approach woodworking with sensitivity and maybe refinement, planes are a good way to begin.” – James Krenov
A Jack plane is one of the most useful tools in the woodshop, capable of taking heavy cuts for dimensioning rough lumber, jointing the edges of stock, and also fine smoothing. If you take care when building the plane and make the sides square to the sole, it can also be used on a shooting board. A versatile hand plane to start with, this Jack plane will fill many needs around the woodshop.
The second plane you’ll make is a curved bottom plane- a special purpose tool you’ll refine and use in week six when you make your coopered cabinet door.
On the last day of the week, you’ll make a wood and brass, plane adjusting hammer- an essential piece of kit to adjust the plane while you refine and fettle it until it performs as any custom wooden plane should.
In the third week of our journey, you’ll begin to refine your skills and put your new Jack plane to use. Through making a handful of work shop appliances, you can hone your skills while not having the added pressure of working on your cabinet project.
Making your own workshop appliances can be both rewarding and practical. You’ll be making a Shooting Board, Winding Sticks, and a set of Shop Bents. Having somewhere to store your cabinet parts as you work your way through the program will be most helpful.
Using the design from, Made by Hand, you’ll be able to refine your skills through a great exercise in dimensioning wood and mortise and tenon construction. Traditional techniques with mallet and chisel, we’ll cover basic mortise and tenons, through mortise and tenons, as well as a half lap joint at the top!
By weeks end, you’ll be happy to have your hand planes and shop appliances all refined and ready to work, as you prepare for the carcase construction on your project in week four.
Making a Coopered Door
We’ll begin the week with some design and construction theory. We’ll look at the methods used to make a coopered door by hand. After that, you’ll be able to refine your door stock and saw the staves.
Day two brings more dimensioning as you finish preparing the staves and begin the bevelling process. All the while, working from full-scale drawings.
On the third day, you’ll finish off the bevelling and begin glueing up the door.
When it comes out of the clamps on day four, you can refine the shape using your curved-bottom plane and card scrapers.
Day five allows time for final shaping and refinement as you design and shape the door pull.
Carcase Construction and Dovetails… Rabbets, and Grooves
In the fifth week of our journey, you’ll begin your cabinet project,
“Ain’t no feathers around here boys…” a delicate wall cabinet based on a design from, Made by Hand-Furniture Projects from the Unplugged Woodshop.
The biggest difference in this version is that this one will have a coopered door and a frame and panel back that incorporates a solid core substrate and a parquetry veneered surface (more on that in week six).
On the first and second days of the week, you’ll make full-scale drawings and double check your design and final dimensions. From there you can finish dimensioning the project parts that have been settling and acclimatizing since week one of your journey.
Day three and four will be all about laying out and executing both through and half-blind dovetails for the cabinet carcase. The hallmark of fine furniture making, dovetails are arguably the most beautiful and robust form of joinery in the modern wood shop.
On the fifth day of week three, you’ll prepare the stock for the cabinet frame and panel back and rough out the parts for the door and drawer you’ll make later on in our program.
The Kerfing Plane and Frame Saw
These tools feature the finest hardware and saw plates available. Custom made for us by Bad Axe Tool Works, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, you’ll refine the parts and assemble these unique and useful tools. Shaping and adjusting them, until they fit perfectly into your hands.
We’ll begin the week by learning the fundamentals of hand saw sharpening, along with the tooth geometry and the set, used on both of these tools.
Beginning with the fixed fence Kerfing plane, you’ll cut the slot for the saw plate and drill the holes for the stepped nuts. Utilizing bench top jigs and appliances, the accuracy of these steps will be much more reliable. Once complete, it’s time to install the blade and take some test cuts. If all is well and you’re happy with the tools performance, you can remove the hardware and start shaping the tote. From fret saw work to shaping with rasps and files, you’ll learn many of the fundamental skills in hand saw making.
By mid-week, when your Kerfing Plane is complete, we’ll move onto the Frame Saw. Mortise and tenon joinery will form a solid frame while the hardware is installed and then tested.
The tool will be adjusted and shaped as you take a few practice cuts and get ready to start sawing your veneer in week six.
Roubo style Parquetry and Frame & Panel Construction
Now that you have your own custom tools for making shop-sawn veneer, you’ll start the process of creating a Roubo-style Parquetry panel for your cabinet back.
Using a frame and panel construction method, you’ll learn how to execute proper bridle joinery for the frame. The parquetry will be cut from your sawn veneer and traditional hot hide glue is applied to the parts face-down on craft paper. This will hold the parquetry in place while we work on our solid-core substrate panels in week eight.
You’ll also make a small scale miter-box, a dedicated tool that is necessary for the parquetry work at hand.
Applying Finish, Solid-Core Substrate, and the Glue-Ups Begin
Our eighth week begins by dry-fitting your cabinet and laying out the interior drawer divider. The parts are made using sliding dovetails in the front, with grooves and tenons in the back.
The second day will be the time to do any final shaping and smoothing and then it’s onto finishing. A hand rubbed finish of oil and wax will be worked into the surfaces.
The solid-core substrate will be made and your Parquetry panel applied.
On the fourth day of the week, the Frame and Panel will be fit and glued together before a final finish of beeswax is applied using a Pollisoir.
On the fifth day, you’ll be ready to fine tune the door, attach the hardware and glue-up your cabinets.
Making a Traditional Dovetailed Drawer
In this, your ninth week of our first 10-week program, you’ll learn the traditional ways of fitting and building a drawer. From day one with design, to layout and options. Then onto the slow and deliberate process of fitting and tuning the drawer back, front, and sides.
Day two brings careful attention to grain direction and layout, with half-blind dovetails in the front, and through dovetails in the back.
After the dovetails are complete, you’ll learn how to make and fit traditional drawer slips that will eventually hold your solid wood drawer bottom. By the end of day three, your drawer should be ready for glue. (no pressure-;)
On day four, you’ll make the drawer bottom panel and fit it into the grooves on the slips. Then it’s onto the drawer pull, where moulding planes and files will be utilized to shape these delicate custom parts.
On the fifth day of your ninth week, it’s all about any final tuning and fitting.
Once your drawer is complete we’ll reset and discuss the options for the next stage of your journey.
Final adjustments, and Tool Storage
During this, the final week of our Artisan Program, we’ll address any final questions or concerns. You’ll have time to finish off any adjustments or shaping on your pieces, and we’ll recap the skills and joinery techniques we learned along the way.
You’ll have an opportunity to make a simple Japanese Style tool chest, using pine planks with butt joints and cut nails. A perfect box for carrying some of your new tools back home with you.
On the second to last day, the fourth of our week, you can invite friends and/or family members to the school to showcase your work and relax at an open house to celebrate the end of your 10-week program.
The final day will be a Q&A morning, open to comments and suggestions while we look forward to the next semester in our Artisan/Maker/Designer Program, the 10 Week Maker Program.
We’ll bid you farewell until we resume again on January 2nd, 2017.
Semester 2: Maker
Developing your skills through the fine art of cabinet making using only hand tools. We’ll be working again, using many of the tools and techniques we introduced in our first semester. This time round, you’ll be working on a bookshelf, based on the “Where the Good Books Go” design featured in, Made by Hand.
Working closely with locally harvested lumber, you’ll compose the parts for your cabinet. Creating full-scale drawings, a cut list, and then rough dimensioning your parts, this project will demand a close attention to detail, and perfectly dimensioned pieces as we lay out and execute through mortise and tenon joinery for the carcase. The interior will differ from my original design as we'll add a drawer box section while furthering our skills on hammer veneering techniques, shop made banding and stringing, along with some more traditional furniture making techniques.
We’ll mix mediums and incorporate leather, paper and some new hardware choices as well. An intermediate level project to push the boundaries of your hand tool skills while you create a beautiful cabinet for your home.
On the second to last day, we’ll invite friends and/or family members to the school for an evening open house. There you can showcase your work and relax and celebrate the end of your 2nd, 10-week program.
We’ll say goodbye for now, and prepare for your final semester that begins in a couple of weeks!
The final leg of the journey- the Designer Program.
Semester 3: Designer
You are at the point when it’s time to tap into your creative mind and design your own cabinet. Developing a form and style all your own, you’ll learn about options, choices, decisions, challenges, failures and rewards as you create a unique project. We’ll be there to guide and assist you, but rest assured, this is going to be a project you can truly call your own.
From initial sketches to wood selection, you’ll find a path to creative flow. Refining and nurturing the skills you’ve been practicing for the last 6 months; you’ll realize your potential as you work towards it. Joinery options and scale, hardware and finishes. Nothing will be left to chance.
This will be 10 weeks you’ll remember and cherish, for the rest of your days working wood.
At the end of this semester, we’ll again have an open house where you can invite friends and/or family members to the school to showcase your work and relax and celebrate the end of your 9 months, Designer/Maker program, here at the Unplugged Woodshop.