Beginners’ Course


Furniture making for beginners – fundamentals & tool sharpening

Beginners Course

Learn the essential skills needed to use furniture making tools – our beginners’ course will introduce you to the importance of sharpness and how to sharpen hand tools, as well as accurate joint cutting techniques whilst making a dovetailed and tenoned English Sweet Chestnut letter rack.

Course suitability

Beginners √
Intermediate √
Advanced √

It far exceeded my expectations in terms of learning skills and the help and guidance I got from Peter. It has inspired me to go on to do more and more furniture making and woodworking.

John Jackson, Beginners Course

Book now

You can book and pay for our short courses via our secure online booking system.

Course Overview

Why choose this course?

Our beginners’ course is designed by Peter to give students a thorough grounding in the essential skills needed to understand how furniture making tools work as well as the importance of sharpness, accuracy and joint cutting. It’s the first in a progressive set of courses and although a course for beginners, it is by no means basic woodworking – Peter covers the topic in-depth.

The course is aimed at those with limited or no experience as well as woodworking enthusiasts who have been struggling at home with blunt tools and are frustrated by their inaccuracy. Students will learn how to strip, flatten and reassemble hand planes and how to bring out the best in their existing tools (if they have them), both by commissioning (tuning) and sharpening them, and will be shown what quality tools can achieve through Peter’s practical demonstrations.

Students will make a dovetailed and tenoned English Sweet Chestnut letter rack using tools they’ve improved themselves – practising hand skills and joint cutting. Peter teaches the course; small groups ensure plenty of hands-on tuition for every student.

Impartial advice is available to help students with any problems they may have encountered at home, as well as on tool selection and buying.

What will I achieve?

At the end of this course you will have gained the knowledge, experience and confidence to attempt fundamental furniture making tasks as well as having learnt how to get the most from your tools. You will also take home your own hand-crafted Sweet Chestnut letter rack with a shellac sealed and waxed finish.

Do you offer a student discount?

Whilst on the course students will receive a 5% discount code for use at Peter’s tool shop students are able to try out, test and buy woodworking tools and equipment – try before you buy.

Course content

Induction and welcome to the school

Health and safety in the workshop

  • Storage and safe use of hand tools

Hand tool selection

  • Selection, buying and looking after hand tools
  • Commissioning (tuning) new and old hand tools to perfection

Hand tool care and sharpening

  • Selecting, testing and using marking out and measuring tools
  • Grinding and honing with dry and wet methods to razor sharpness
  • Flattening bench planes to within a tolerance of 0.038mm or 0.0015”
  • Stones: oil, diamond, Japanese, manufactured and natural stones including leather stropping and Scary Sharpening
  • Sharpening tools: planes, chisels, scrapers and saws

Hand skills and joint cutting

  • Reading drawings and preparing cutting lists
  • Accurate marking and measuring to furniture making standards
  • Planing face side, face edge, thickness and end grain
  • Sawing to the line on dovetails and tenons
  • Using chisels to clean down to shoulder lines and cut mortices and pare joints
  • Joint cutting to include mortise and tenon, through and lapped dovetailing
  • Cutting and shaping curved components by bandsaw and spokeshave
  • Hand sanding, glueing up and flushing down joints
  • Finishing with shellac sanding sealer and beeswax

Frequently asked questions

Do I need to bring any tools?

You do not have to bring any tools with you, as we have a complete, individual quality tool kit for each student to use whilst on our short courses. However, if you do already have them, you will gain much more out of the course if you can improve and take home your own tools, particularly a bench plane.

What facilities are available?

Students will need to provide their own lunch each day. Tea and coffee are provided by the school. It is only a 3-minute drive to the town centre, where you will be able to buy lunch from the bakery or supermarkets on the High Street – there’s also a great fish and chip shop.

Where can I stay during the course?

To find out more about accommodation click here

Are you under 18?

The school regrets that we are unable to accept applications from anyone under the age of 18 at the start of their course.

Average Rating: 5.0 out of 5 (12 votes)
5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star
Christopher howard

Excellent beginners course

Thoroughly enjoyed my week. Had never used a chisel or a plane, learnt so much and looking forward to progressing. The small class size meant lots of 1 to 1 help and support. Would definitely recommend this course. Thank you to Peter and the team. Looking forward to the next course.

10 months ago
Kate Lang

I enjoyed every minute

I just wanted to pass on my thanks for such a great course last week. I genuinely enjoyed every minute and I don’t think I have ever learnt so much in such a short time before. I’m excited to put some of my new skills into action at home.

2 years ago
John Jackson

Exceeded my expectations

It far exceeded my expectations in terms of learning skills and the help and guidance I got from Peter. It has inspired me to go on to do more and more furniture making and woodworking.

3 years ago
Phil Buckle

Friendly and enthusiastic

It is clear from day one that Peter is friendly and enthusiastic. It is abundantly obvious by your final day that he is patient, engaging, and inspiring. The courses are perfectly paced: they keep you busy and involved, and there is a hint of a crescendo toward the finale of the week.

4 years ago
Peter Street

High quality equipment and instruction

It is a privilege to work in Peter’s workshop with such a high quality of equipment and instruction, and a sharpness of chisels and planes that I did not believe possible!

5 years ago
Roger Gill

I was surprised by how much progress I made

There must be something fundamentally good about a school where the pupils arrive early and are queuing up to get in of a morning. Your beginners’ course successfully gets the balance between stretching yet allowing the student some sense of achievement. I was surprised by how much progress I made and much of this is down to your patience and perception of our competence.

5 years ago
Andy Prichard

Peter is a great teacher!

I would like to thank you for such a great course just before Christmas. It was just perfect and Peter’s a great teacher! I thoroughly enjoyed the week – much appreciated.

5 years ago
Anthony Lewis


I thought it was excellent; you had obviously given a lot of thought to the project which provided tests of such a lot of woodworking skills. I feel that I must have tested your patience from time to time, so thank you for putting up with me!

7 years ago
Paul Evans


“Thank you for a most enjoyable week – while not being the best carpenter in the world I did enjoy the work and learning to sharpen tools and how a plane works!
I very much appreciated Peter’s help, I know I made a lot of errors, but the knowledge gained will certainly help me in the future.”

8 years ago
Richard Poultney

Thank you

I thoroughly enjoyed my time on the course, – thanks for a very enjoyable and informative 5 days. I’ve shown my resulting rack to a number of people and they’ve all been very impressed!

8 years ago

A huge thank you

Firstly and most importantly a huge thank you to you all at the furniture school for the beginners course from! It was a fab course and I am recommending it to anyone and everyone!

8 years ago
Matt Poole

Thanks once again

Thanks to Peter once again for another very enjoyable time at your workshops and completion of latest masterpiece.

9 years ago

Review Beginners’ Course.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *