Furniture Making: Finding your VOice
12-week intensive program
Fall 2017- Open
Oct 2 - Dec 22
Winter 2018 - Open
Jan 8 - March 30
Scholarships may be available for qualifying students
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Our Philosophy Behind the Course
Traditionally furniture makers learned their craft working as an apprentice in the Master Craftsman's shop. We’re offering this course as being a second step in a furniture making apprenticeship, building on woodworking skills by deepening your understanding of design, expanding your range of joinery and decorative techniques to build well designed and robust furniture.
We're committed to passing on the living tradition of woodworking--rooted in techniques that create lasting results and instilling the values and practices of fine craftsmanship, sustainability, and creative expression.
We emphasize quality, attention to detail, considering impact and longevity, and working to high standards for lasting work. Our instructors are experienced craftspeople who recognize the value of passing on their skill set to the next generation of woodworkers. We strive to invite you into our community by connecting you with others who have a passion for craftsmanship.
This course is focused on developing the skills that will allow you to start to find your voice as a furniture designer / maker. Design will be the consistent thread through the numerous projects of this class. We will take a hybrid approach to furniture making by blending traditional hand tool techniques with pragmatic use of woodworking machines.
You will explore the history and development of furniture styles, and learn Jim Tolpin’s methods of traditional design to develop your eye for proportion.
In this course we focus on free standing solid wood furniture. Like our Foundations of Woodworking intensive, the program is broken down into a series of progressively more complex projects that allow you to refine your sense of design, explore new techniques and develop a sense of how fine detail adds to the richness of the design.
Woven throughout the course will be presentations on the history of furniture making, the evolution of furniture styles and a review of contemporary styles. We’ll also do demonstrations on some advanced techniques such as shaping and using curved forms, drawer making, carcass construction, steam-bending, lamination, inlay, chairmaking, veneering, marquetry, and some contemporary joinery techniques.
There will be two instructors for this course. One of the School’s instructors will be there full time. The second instructor will change with each project so you are exposed to a wide range of aesthetics, techniques and approaches to furniture making. These will include local makers and designers including Jim Tolpin, Tom Dolese, Michael Hamilton, Seth Rolland, Jaap Romijn and Tim Lawson. Other makers from the Puget Sound area will share their experience with you.
Furniture makers do not live just by their art and craft. During the course we'll reach out to members of the local business community to introduce you to the skills you'll need to set up business as a maker. We'll encourage you to finish each project for the end of course photography session, so that you'll have the beginning of your portfolio.
Finding your voice and succeeding as a furniture maker takes determination, resilience and a lot of self confidence. We believe that this course will give you the skills and the confidence, gained with feedback from your peers and mentors, to take the first step on your own.
- Blending traditional hand tool and machine techniques for efficiency in the shop and for small production runs we cover
- Tuning, sharpening, and the use of hand tools for joinery, shaping and detail
- Safe usage of stationary and portable power woodworking machines for milling stock, joinery and shaping.
Concept to Cutlist
- Exploring the history of furniture styles, aesthetics and design details
- Finding your voice - exploring your affinity for curves, shape and form
- Generating and refining designs through sketching, rendering and drafting.
- Using proportional design techniques
- Group design review and feedback sessions.
- Working with models and prototypes
- Creating full scale plans and story sticks
- Planning for efficient workflow in the shop
- Naming the species: learning the different types of wood and their suitability for furniture making
- Finding local and sustainably sourced materials.
- At the lumberyard: Selecting materials for aesthetics, strength and minimal waste
- Selecting joinery for strength and visual appeal
- Traditional joinery techniques with hand tools and power tools
- Drawer construction - engineering and building drawers into a cabinet
- Door construction and fitting
- Frame and panel carcasses
- Solid wood carcasses
- Creating curved forms by carving, lamination and steam bending.
- Re-sawing and veneering (including vacuum bag techniques).
- Designing and using jigs, templates and fixtures.
- A brief exploration and discussion of CNC routing machinery and production techniques.
- Edge detail - beading, chamfering
- Carving - creating textured surfaces and ornamentation
- Choosing the right finish: balancing durability, look, and environmental impact
- Surface preparation - cutting, scraping and sanding
- Finish application
- Introduction to decorative finishes - pigments, dyes, and layered finishes.
- Finish maintenance - repairing and refreshing finishes.
Setting up Shop and Tool Maintenance
- Selection, setup, maintenance and tuning of woodworking tools and machinery.
- Designing a shop for efficiency and safety
- Materials staging and handling. Labor strategies.
- Dust collection and dealing with off cuts, sawdust, shavings.
- Using, storing and disposing of hazardous materials.
Hanging out your shingle: General introduction to the business aspects of making a living at furniture making.
- What’s involved in running a professional woodworking business?
- Pricing and marketing, working with clients
- Business structure - LLC vs Corporation
- Leveraging your community
- Affiliations and organizations
- Working with other artisans
- Local Resources
- Selling your work:
- Working with galleries and artists reps
- Photographing your work
- Web presence
- Setting up a web site
- Blogs and Social Media
Step Stool - Weeks 1-2
You will learn the design process from sketch to mockup while designing and building a small step stool. We will cover hand and machine techniques while you take your piece from rough stock to completion.
Small Table - Weeks 3-5
The next project is a small table. Starting with demonstrations and practice in drawer making, bent lamination, shaping / carving legs and fine details, you design and build a side table, demilune table, coffee table, or end table incorporating these techniques.
Chairmaking - Weeks 6-8:
In the first part of this segment we explore ergonomics, engineering constraints, joinery and shaping techniques required to build strong and elegant chairs. You’ll use these principles to design and build a chair.
Final Project -Weeks 9-12
This segment starts with demonstrations on carcass construction, coopering, and stacked lamination while you design your final project. We recommend a small free standing cabinet but we’re open to other small advanced projects.
Course duration and hours:
Class hours are 9:00 to 5:00 Monday through Friday with an hour break for lunch. we encourage you to arrive by 8:30 to practice and prepare for the day.
The workshop and machine room are fully available to students during class hours Monday through Friday. The workshop is available after hours and on weekends - subject to the School’s After Hours Policy.
We recommend bringing a basic set of hand tools for this class. Student Tool List
This class is open to woodworkers who would like to broaden their approach to furniture making. What do we mean by this? We think it means you are a person who has decided to commit to learning furniture making; is yearning to develop a finer sense of design; has already acquired some woodworking skills and has a strong sense of the limitations of your own knowledge and skills.
We must have some experience in woodworking before taking this class. If you have limited woodworking experience - we’d like you to produce evidence of strong practical skills, problem solving ability, and experience with hand work. We're looking for the right attitude.
This course is an ideal follow up to the Foundations of Woodworking 12 week intensive.
$200.00 Registration Deposit (due at the time of registration)
$300.00 Materials Deposit (due 45 days before class start date)
$7,000.00 Remaining Tuition (due 45 days before class start date)
= $7500.00 Total Payments
There is no fee to submit an application! Once your application is accepted and you are invited to register, a deposit of $200.00 is required to hold your place in the course.
The remaining tuition payment ($7,000.00) and materials deposit ($300.00) is due 45 days before the start date. Any unused materials deposit will be returned at the end of the course. You may use the materials deposit to buy books, finish, wood, fasteners, and hardware. Due to credit card processing fees, we kindly ask that students make this portion of the tuition payments by personal check, money order, or bank check.
This course runs during the off-season in Port Townsend. Vacation rentals and house shares can be picked up in town.
Our School fund-raises so that we can offer scholarships for our Intensive Programs. Our ability to offer scholarship is dependent on having funds available and requiring that students meet the conditions that donors attach to the funds.
The school received approval to accept GI Bill funding in January 2017. Read more...
The Port Townsend School of Woodworking and Preservation Trades is licensed as a Private Vocational School by the Washington State Workforce Development Board. We offer the option for you to take this class and receive a school Certificate of Completion for the class.
If you choose this option, we more formally evaluate your achievements as you proceed through the class. Upon demonstration of required skills, and timely completion of required projects, you will receive a Certificate of Completion. A transcript of your achievements will be made available to you and kept in our permanent files.
As a vocational student your course fees are covered by a State hosted insurance that will refund your fee should the course be cancelled.
Our Vocational Catalog is here. This option is only available to U.S. Citizens and Legal Residents. There is an additional charge for the vocational option to cover the additional administrative overhead.
Application and Registration
The application process for Furniture Making opens 9 months in advance of the course start date. There is no fee for applying! Once you apply, we will schedule a brief phone interview to get a better sense of your woodworking experience and make sure the class is a good fit for you. Accepted applicants will be invited to register. We ask for a deposit of $200 at the time of registration to ensure your place in the class.
If the class is full and you would like to add your name to the waitlist, simply fill out an application and we will contact you as soon as a space opens.
What's in the application?
- Contact information
- Enrollment agreement stating School Policies and Procedures including:
- Physical Eligibility and Safety
- Code of Conduct
- Statement of Financial Responsibility
- Woodworking/Making Experience
- Personal statement
- Why are you interested in taking Furniture Making? What drew you to this course? What are you hoping to gain? (250-500 words)
- What else should we know about you? Share some fun stuff about yourself. What other experiences do you bring to the class?(up to 100 words)
- Scholarship Application (optional)
Please take a moment to read our Cancelation Policy