The Brisbane School of Fine Woodwork had its humble beginnings in 1998, when an aspiring woodworker approached me wanting to know where he could learn to make furniture properly. I decided to offer up my services as a tutor, not having any idea at the time just how much I would enjoy this aspect of woodworking.
The School is still relatively small and will remain this way, as I believe the intimacy of only four to five students per class is what makes it successful. We operate from my purpose-built studio, which abounds in natural light and ventilation.
The workshop is fully equipped with benches and tools for each student and a professional machine shop. There are also a variety of electric hand tools to help students achieve their dream pieces. Students are introduced to the machinery fairly early on to ensure that both safe techniques and attitude become the norm rather than the exception.
Students always start at the same base level. They are taken through a series of two or three fixed design, set projects (for example, a mallet, breadboard and small side table) before they are allowed some free rein. The set projects deal with the nitty gritty of the basics – good hand skills, sharpening, marking out and execution.
The emphasis on the initial stages of tuition is to focus on good skill and technique throughout the set projects. Each of these projects can take between four to six Saturdays, the emphasis being on learning, rather than rushing.
Once students have established confidence and competency, and established good workshop practice, they are encouraged to start designing their own piece. The set exercises are designed to foster the learning of fundamental skills. Once students have demonstrated their understanding of these fundamentals, they are then encouraged to be more creative in designing their own pieces.
The timbers used in the classes are furniture grade so that the student learns to deal with beautiful materials immediately. I’ve found that the students appreciate this from an aesthetic point of view, but they also start to respect their own work more if they know the materials are of high quality.
The School offers lessons in the form of 6 Day Casual Block Classes, 5 and 6 day week long classes, month long classes and one-on-one classes. Please see courses on offer on the “Courses” page.