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Oval Steam-bent Shaker boxes Evening Class in London

Shaker oval course with Tom Trimmins in London

Duration: 8 evenings over 8 weeks

Price: £375

Book with: Tom
at Tom Trimmins Woodwork

Tom Trimmins @ Freightliners City Farm
Sheringham Road
N7 8PF

Course Start Dates

Course dates are flexible; please get in touch for the next available date.

About the Course

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On this course you will make two or three Oval shaker boxes of different sizes and along the way you will learn about steam-bending, carving and how to use a neat selection of hand-tools and machinery. We will use black walnut or maple for the box sides and red cedar for the top and bottom. Maple was one of the most commonly used woods by the shakers but walnut bends just as well and I think it looks great. One of the boxes will be in traditional style whilst the other will be my modified design which has an inset rebated lid rather than an overlapping one.


You’ll learn how to carve the distinctive swallow-tail joint with just a knife and how to cut the tapered other end of the joint using my special jig. This course is a great way to be introduced to steam-bending, steam works as a heat-transfer medium to temporarily plasticise the wood-its an age old and fiendishly clever method. You need to be quick but careful to bend the wood without it breaking, the cells on the inside of the curve all have to compress, and those on the outside elongate and if you do it too fast there is no time for that to happen. It’s an interesting balancing act!

The joint is tacked together with special copper nails that are cinched over on the inside of the box. The nails are made on vintage machines in America-as far as I know there is only one source of them in the world, as they are a very specific shape. The machines you'll get to use include: Belt/disc sanders, table saw, router, bandsaw, pillar drill and a whole slew of hand tools such as knives, awls, chisels, planes, drills.


If you would like to make something that is a bit unusual and will introduce a variety of new skills as well as improving your general level of accuracy then this course is for you. It’s suitable for beginners and more advanced woodworkers.

If booking with a CraftCourses voucher for part or all of the course fee, please fill in the contact form above. Your voucher code must be provided at the point of booking.

What's included in the price?

Use of all tools plus all the materials you'll need. Quite often there are biscuits too!

Want to review this course?

This course was a great introduction to steam bending and also using some power tools. The boxes are useful and make great presents! Tom has a very deep and ongoing interest in woodworking and making things, so you pick a lot up from chatting and being shown various bits in the workshop, as well as from the actual course. It's also a great little venue, both the workshop and the urban farm it's part of. There's a shop just round the corner if you need a snack at some point during the evening.

- - #18616

I have been learning woodwork skills from Tom Trimmins for about 5 years, and keep coming back for more! He has taught me (and many others) how to use hand- and power-tools (and how to use them properly and safely), about the properties of many different woods and about how to disguise my many mistakes. I have made: many boxes, a stool, a medicine cabinet, a table and a rocking chair, among other things.
Tom is a good, amusing and relaxed teacher, as well as being a great woodworker.

- - #11543

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