Furniture making SKILLS WEEK - Essential cabinetmaking hand skills - 5 days in East Sussex



The Cabinetmaking Skills Week is the course you’ve been waiting for. If you’re a complete beginner this will give you the perfect grounding; if you’ve been woodworking for a while, this will be a great tune-up, sorting out any bad habits and reinforcing fundamental skills.

Everything in Woodwork is based on Sharpening so this is the initial focus. You must have a sharpening system at your fingertips that works for you; we will look at angles, the exotic and not so exotic steels used for blades, high speed grinders, water-cooled grinders and bench stones. You will learn a method of sharpening freehand, but you will also learn how to use honing guides – it’s quite OK if freehand honing remains an aspiration for the moment. Western dovetailing and cross-cut saws are great to use, but they also need to be super-sharp for accurate work, so we’ll look at sharpening a Dovetail Saw too.

Planing, Sawing and Chiselling are the three critical elements needed for shaping and jointing bits of wood together so you will be given some good solid technique and exercises to help you practice and conquer these vital skills. Setting up a plane to take gossamer-thin shavings, planing strategies to deal with misshapen pieces of timber, chopping and paring to a knife line with a chisel and bringing a bit of Zen into sawing to make it a focused, precise process.

To see how things are progressing you will prepare and join several pieces of wood together to make a cheese-board, this will give you a chance to get some calm, composed gluing under your belt, adding some tapered chamfers with a wonderful ‘finesse tool’, the spoke-shave, will complete this little project.

Jointing pieces of wood together is what woodwork is all about so we’ll cut some simple dovetails and mortice and tenons, combining this with a bit of plough pane work for some grooves and adding a bottom will complete an elegant ‘Water Biscuit Box’ to perfectly compliment your board.

What will you learn:

* Sharpening – fool-proof systems that produce razor-sharp blades

* Preparing a plane – fettling and setting up for gossamer-thin shavings

* Planing strategies – producing super flat wood with a mirror surface

* Chiselling – techniques for safe, accurate chopping and paring

* Sawing – Japanese and Western saws need different techniques to get the best out of them and Sawing is the key skill for cutting accurate dovetails

* Making friends with a "Finesse" tool - cutting a tapered chamfer with a Spokeshave

* Cheeseboard Exercise – Planing and gluing with some simple cramping tactics and a hand-cut chamfer

* A vital joint - simple through dovetails – sawing and chiselling practice to make this hugely important, elegant joint.

* Another vital joint - through, wedged mortice & tenon – another classic joint, the perfect way to make any frame, cut by hand.

* The plough plane – a hand-cut groove avoids screaming routers and makes you smile.

* Box exercise – Combining all the tools and techniques – this simple dovetailed box exercise is the perfect way to check progress.

Refunds are not available on this booking. Start dates may be amended on request.

What's included in the price?

The workshops are open from 8am until 7pm. Teaching hours are from 8.30am - 6pm giving the maximum value for money.

All courses are taught by John Lloyd

All tools and materials are provided. Students may wish to bring protective clothing and should wear sensible footwear.

Tea and coffee are provided. Students are recommended to bring a packed lunch, or if they prefer there is a sandwich shop, village shop and pub a short drive away.

We are always happy to help if you require assistance finding local accommodation.


John Lloyd at John Lloyd Fine Furniture

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Bankside Farm
Ditchling Common
Burgess Hill
East Sussex
RH15 0SJ

Suitable for

  • Adults
  • Parking provided
  • Suitable for beginners


5 days (9:00am to 6:00pm)

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Tom Darone - - #16259

Perfect combination of hand plane, chisel, and dovetail saw skill building. Exactly what I was looking for.

Giacomo Maltman - - #14411

Having not done anything like this before, I feel I learnt a great deal. From the first morning until the final hour new skills and techniques were being shown and valuable knowledge passed on. I enjoyed John's thorough teaching approach and feel he probably covered more detail than anyone else could possibly fit into one week - things like; steel types, different kinds of oil, sharpening angles, blade steepness etc. All valuable info that I'd not really given much thought to previously. The workshop itself was a great place to be for the necessarily long days we spent there. Light and airy with plenty of good quality tools (and cake) to try. I also enjoyed looking around the other workshops a great deal. Seeing what everyone was up to was quite inspiring.

John Gove - - #14410

The course is well designed with the beginner in mind. I thought I knew how to use a plane and chisel, How wrong can you be? .John was very clear with his teaching and instructions and always ready to answer questions and help with both minor or major problems. Would highly recommend this course.

Dominic Rudd - - #14409

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Patrick McGloin - - #8913

Professional level of instruction

Steve Shorter - - #8912

The course is well explained and John is always there to help

Martin McGloin - - #8911

Structured and good pace. Very thorough build up of the fundamental skills. Feel like I could completed the projects independently now using the skills covered.

Liz Vasiliou - - #8910

The course was structured - everything we did led into another activity. It was almost like someone had thought about it. Although we didn't necessarily create anything for the first few days there were 'goals' along the way. The methods were taught in a way that was easy to follow (though not always to put into practise!). Tools provided were great, and we got the opportunity to try other variants. Nice cakes as well

James Newell - - #8909

Well paced, comprehensive and built skills through practical experiencing. I enjoyed the teaching style.

Joe Barker - - #8908

John is a very good teacher. I really liked the attention to detail, the focus on technique, and the comprehensive approach to understanding the tools and how they worked. The projects were well-judged, with the right balance of challenge and achievability.

Terry Hilder - - #8907

Very informative and we gradually progressed through important stages. Informal and relaxed with good interaction between tutor and all participants.

James Martin - - #7224

John is a great teacher and the course content was spot on. Its also a great location for me and the home made cakes are a very nice plus!

Kerry Kyriacou - - #7223

Even with the bar set so high for beginners, the instruction was presented in such well organised and digestible bite size chunks, one was able to absorb and implement the information without feeling overwhelmed or too confused. The course and instruction far exceeded anything I could have reasonably expected

Stacy Barron - - #7222

The knowledge and the way information was put across by John standout but the all round atmosphere was excellent. Please move to Carlisle so you are closer. To be honest it is the best week I have had.

Nick Reid - - #5650

Very good clear and staged instructions to allow skills to develop. The content was challenging but never to the extent that it's outcomes could not be achieved.

Sally Kemp-Welch - - #5649

Lovely atmosphere, beautiful surroundings, great teacher and fantastic cake!

Farouk Okhai - - #5648

Well thought out. A good pace. Excellent venue. Beautifully laid out classroom. Good workbench. Very good explanations about tools and the different brands.

Russell Smith - - #5647

The course was taught at the right pace and the tuition was very good.

Benjamin Adnams - - #4740

I liked everything about the course. Really. The people, the equipment, the course content, John's expertise,Sara Jane's cake. It was all brilliant. Very organized. I', struggling to think of anything which could be improved, so that must be a good sign!

Sean Foley - - #4669

I would just like to say a big thank you for the fantastic course that you ran last week, i can honestly say i haven't learnt that much in years and along with that had such fun.

You truly have an exceptional environment to learn and the camaraderie is second to none.

Again many, many thanks and hopefully i will get myself along to the long course in the not to distant future.

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