The Wharfedale Workshop

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Beginners Woodwork and Wood-Craft Training and Education

Since Covid lockdown we have seen a big increase in people looking for beginner or intermediate courses in woodwork. Learning to make things from wood seems to be a real hidden passion for many people and fits with the general move towards making more food from basic ingredients, growing your own food, making clothes, greater appreciation of nature and so on. We ask people who come on our introduction to woodwork courses why they are here. Answers vary but almost always include one or two of: “I just love wood”, “I’ve always liked making things and this seems be the one area I’ve missed” or ” I really wish I’d kept going with woodwork at school but I was pushed into studying geography/history/etc instead”.

It’s slightly strange as we have got used to it, but people often say that they like the smell of our workshop; it often reminds them of school – in a good way we hope! Ultimately we are trying to introduce people to working with wood and to help them begin to develop their skills so that they can enjoy working with wood and creating objects and simple furniture for themselves.

2020 Autumn courses

We have been keeping a close eye on both local and national Covid restrictions and also talking to our students as to how they feel about the courses going ahead. So far the vast majority are keen to go ahead and likewise those that have come along feel comfortable with the new workshop layout. We have good space between workbenches plus some new screens to protect students. (The usual hand sanitiser and masks are also in play) In fact, it’s probably a better layout than before and people feel that they are maybe safer here than in many other environments.

We have had to juggle a few of the planned courses and dates around:

One day Introduction to Woodwork (1 November (full), 7 November (full), 19 December.) – £105

Two day weekend Introduction to Woodwork including project pack- £210 including all project materials (31 October/1 November (full) and 5/6 December (full) 2020) and 16/17 January 2021 (1 place available)

Woodwork – projects (Mondays – 6 evenings 7-9.30pm starting 9 Nov) – £95 (full) (Mondays – 6 evenings 7-9.30pm starting 4 Jan 2021) – £95 (full)

Woodwork beginners (Tuesdays – 6 evenings 7-9.30pm starting 10 Nov) – £95 (full) (Tuesdays – 6 evenings 7-9.30pm starting 5 Jan 2021 ) – £95 (1 place available)

Box Making (Thursdays – 6 evenings 7-9.30pm starting 12 Nov) – £95 (full) (Thursdays – 6 evenings 7-9.30pm starting 7 Jan 2021 ) – £95 (4 places available)

Below you will find more details on each of the courses. You can email us at wharfedaleworkshop@yahoo.com if you would like to sign up for any of our sessions. You can also call 07341 828 954.

One day Introduction to Woodwork

The goal of this course is pretty simple: we want you to leave having been inspired and enthused to go home and build on what you learn. In a day we can’t possibly teach you everything but we can cover all of the basics and can equip you with the basic skills to move on to making beautiful wooden objects on your own or, if you wish, to move on to some of our more advanced courses. We want to ease you down the road of self-sufficiency whereby you can design, plan and build your own projects safely and accurately.

The day is very hands on. You’ll have one of our classic (and very sharp) hand planes in your hands within minutes and over the first few hours will begin to learn and use some of the fundamental skills of woodworking to turn a rough piece of timber into a nicely polished wooden doorstop. This will including sawing, planing, measuring and marking

Over the day you’ll also have the opportunity to work with a cross section of timber including ash, oak, beech, poplar, pine and walnut. We’ll touch on the different ways that the “live” nature of wood can impact on your work and will also talk about how you can source good quality hard and soft wood for any future projects you have in mind.

After a break for lunch we’ll build on the morning’s work and will add to your skills with some chisel work and a simple dovetail joint. It may not be perfect at first but you’ll be on the road to dovetail heaven! We’ll make a pair of bookends combined with a simple photo frame that, all being well, you’ll be proud to have on your shelves! We will cut our first dovetails the traditional way but will also touch on some of the new devices available to help aid your accuracy; below in the middle picture you can see the Katz-Moses dovetail guide along with a japanese style saw.

There will be no more than 5 students on each course so there is plenty of room in the workshop and also time for individual attention.

During the day we’ll spend time talking about tool choice/purchase and tool maintenance and you will also spend time practising the dark art of tool sharpening. We’ll look at the various ways you can hone that edge which is so essential for safe, accurate and pleasurable woodwork. We will look at and use water stones, diamond plates and the scary sharp system and will also look at a number of different honing guides. We also won’t ignore simple sandpaper on a flat surface for the really budget conscious! We will also make a simple leather strop which you can take home with you afterwards.

We’ll spend the last half hour or so looking at a simple box design (see box making course below). We can’t possibly make this in a day but we will have equipped you with the skills to do so when you get back home! We’ll talk through the tools you need – where you can get them and how much (indeed how little maybe..) they cost and how you can get started without the need for a purpose-built workbench. If you do want to make this at home then you can buy a pack of pre-machined wood from us, ready to build with no thicknessing or planing needed. (We really want to set people on their woodworking journey, so we will only charge the cost price to us of the raw materials – probably about £10 depending on the wood you choose)

See top of page for latest availability. You can email us at wharfedaleworkshop@yahoo.com if you would like to sign up for any of our sessions. You can also call 07341 828 954.

Two day weekend Introduction to Woodwork plus project

This is a great course for beginners although will be hard work as we will cover a lot of ground; we will have time to go into much greater depth about the various subjects and more time to put the skills you learn into practice. We will cover:

Safety: workshop safety, using tools safely and now Covid safety and how we are going to use the workshop and keep safe.

Sawing: different types of saws, using a bench hook

Planing: different types of planes, maintaining a plane, sharpening a plane, using a bench plane, using a block plane, using a shooting board

Chiseling: different types of chisels, sharpening a chisel

Sharpening: primarily focused on chisels and planes, freehand sharpening, using a honing guide of varying types, using the Scary Sharp system, using a diamond plate, water stones, using (and making) a strop

Marking out; basic concepts, face side/face edge, using a marking gauge (traditional and wheel), marking with a knife, using metal squares and metal rulers

Wood: different species of wood and their characteristics, grain, movement, sawing patterns, sourcing and buying wood

Jointing: different types of joints and their properties including half lap and edge jointing

Dovetail jointing: basic concept, dovetail guides/jigs, marking out, sawing with dovetail saw and fretsaw

Home project: we will begin to work on a simple dovetail box. We couldn’t possibly get this finished within the 2 days but you will receive a pre-machined project pack of wood to enable you to complete this at home using the skills you have learned. We will spend the final hour working through the various steps to set you on your way. The box is designed such that you don’t need too many tools or a dedicated workbench. (more details on the box can be found in the 5 week box making for beginners evening course – these folk spend more than 12 hours on the box alone so you can see why we can’t cover all of the beginners content and make the box in the 2 days)

Tools: some of you may already have some tools – some of you are starting from scratch. We’ll talk through what the basics are, what you can make, what you can get second hand (and re-furbish with your newly found sharpening skills) and what may be worth investing a few pounds in. Over the 2 days you will get the chance to use a lot of different tools and should begin to get a sense of what you need. The following three “tools” all work really well; one from a car boot for 50p, one from Aldi for £3.99 and one from Workshop Heaven*. (*Workshop Heaven is actually a real fine woodworking specialist not a joke! Wharfedale Workshop students get a 10% discount at http://www.workshopheaven.co.uk)

Following the course: given the move to a more virtual world whether we like it or not, I want to use the Wharfedale Workshop facebook page to share students’ post-course experiences as they turn their project packs of wood into a hand made box. You will be able to share successes (and maybe some less successful moments….) and also ask questions of each other and of the Wharfedale Workshop tutors.

See top of page for latest availability. You can email us at wharfedaleworkshop@yahoo.com if you would like to sign up for any of our sessions. You can also call 07341 828 954.

Absolute Beginners Woodwork – 5 evenings

This course, run over 5 evenings, assumes no prior knowledge or experience whatsoever. Its goal is to build your woodwork knowledge and skills with plenty of time to learn the basics and to practise them on a number of simple, practical projects. By the end of the 5 weeks we want to leave you with the ability and confidence to safely and accurately use and maintain a set of woodworking hand tools having been inspired and enthused to go home and build on what you learn. We will have time to equip you with the basic skills to move on to making beautiful wooden objects on your own or, if you wish, to move on to some of our more advanced courses. We want to ease you down the road of self-sufficiency whereby you can design, plan and build your own projects safely and accurately.

From the very start, you will be “hands on”. You’ll have one of our classic (and very sharp) hand planes in your hands within minutes and over the first few hours will begin to learn and use some of the fundamental skills of woodworking to turn a rough piece of timber into a nicely polished wooden doorstop. This will including sawing, planing, measuring and marking, Over the 5 weeks we will use various types of wood and you’ll have the opportunity to work with a cross section of timber including ash, oak, beech, poplar, pine and walnut. We’ll touch on the different ways that the “live” nature of wood can impact on your work and will also talk about how you can source good quality hard and soft wood for any future projects you have in mind.

We will gradually move towards you being able to set up and sharpen the tools you use yourselves and will discuss how you can build a set of practical and afordable tools. You are also welcome to bring in your own tools to use and or sharpen during the course. We will also touch on how you can restore older tools; as far as hand woodworking tools go, old is often better than new. Probably not as old as the plane below but you never know…..

There will be no more than 5 students on each course so there is plenty of room in the workshop and also time for individual attention.

See top of page for latest dates and availability You can email us at wharfedaleworkshop@yahoo.com if you would like to sign up for any of our sessions. You can also call 07341 828 954.

Box Making for Beginners

This 5 week evening course (Thursdays) will take you through the steps to build a simple dovetailed keepsake box. Whilst we will focus on making the box itself, we will also take time to cover a number of the basic skills and techniques outlined in the Absolute Beginners courses.

Once we have practised the various techniques and worked with a few different types of wood, you will choose which wood you would like to make your box out of. We will use some oak, walnut, maple, poplar and pine but the final choice is very much yours. The basic design is quite simple – however if you are feeling more confident there is certainly scope for customising your box. Not everyone works at the same pace and we will ensure that no one gets bored!

The “standard box” you can see above (an unfinished work in progress) is made of maple with a simple through-dovetail construction and a hinged lid. If you feel that this is too simple then you are welcome to add a degree of complexity/sophistication as long as the 5 sessions will enable you to complete this. We will work on the design in the first session but feel free to stick to the standard model!

If maple is not your thing then you could choose some oak, pitch pine or ash; below you can see some examples of stock students have prepared ready for making their boxes. In the big image, pitch pine is at the top, ash in the middle and oak at the bottom.

There will be no more than 5 students on each course so there is plenty of room in the workshop and also time for individual attention. Many pieces of furniture are basically boxes in different forms so the skills you learn on this small scale will be a great step towards more ambitious projects.

See top of page for latest availability. You can email us at wharfedaleworkshop@yahoo.com if you would like to sign up for any of our sessions. You can also call 07341 828 954.

Craft Based Woodworking

This evening (5 sessions) course is designed for those who want to make things from wood but are more into “the outcome” and less into “the journey”. We will still touch on some of the technical elements of woodwork but this is more about what the finished product looks like. Below is a simple oak bracelet box with walnut splines to stenghten the mitres and add some interest. Apart from the hand sanding and finishing with oil this was almost entirely made with machines and jigs to aid accuracy – hand wood working skill level=very low!

We have a whole load of potential projects in mind but we’ll start with some simple chopping boards in a variety of woods including oak, beech and yew. We will spend the first session covering some workshop basics and then choosing what the group wants to focus on over the next month or so. As we are less concerned with the “purity of the woodwork”, wherever possible we will use machines to help us create our work. Some of this may be hands on – some wood will be prepared for you – balancing safety with speed. Below you can see three examples of simple chopping boards we have made; the left hand board is walnut, the middle board is an amazing piece of figured elm which has been sanded around its natural contours and the right hand board is oak, reclaimed from a very old broken table. The oak board has a laser printed design as it was a gift.

We have the opportunity to use reclaimed woods and you are welcome to select and/or source your own wood for projects whether new or old. There is an almost infinite variety of possible projects so, within reason, you can let your creativity run wild. You will also have access to a simple laser engraver which will enable you to customise your projects by adding text or graphics which can make for great gifts. This course very much has Chrstmas and birthdays in mind!

There will be no more than 5 students on each course so there is plenty of room in the workshop and also time for individual attention.

See top of page for latest availability. You can email us at wharfedaleworkshop@yahoo.com if you would like to sign up for any of our sessions. You can also call 07341 828 954.

Course Fees

One day course – £105

Two day course – £210

Evening courses (6 sessions) £95

Materials cost are included unless stated otherwise.

Recent work by our students


Get in Touch

Wharfedale Workshop
The Cornmill, Ilkley, West Yorks., LS29 8HT
wharfedaleworkshop@yahoo.com

Call us on 07341 828 954


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