Acanthus Workshop - Woodworking Class

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Blog entry by Kerry Drake posted 11-05-2010 04:24 PM 1723 reads 0 times favorited 2 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I spent the first weekend in October at the Acanthus Workshop in Pennsylvania taking the Woodworking Fundamentals I class. All in all a great couple days spent with Chuck and Joe, with excellent lunches provided by Chuck’s wife Lorraine.

From the Acanthus Web Site:

This two day course covers the basic hand tools used in fine furniture making. Students will learn how to determine a good tool from a bad tool, what tools are really necessary for furniture making, how the tools work, how to sharpen and care for the tools and how to use the tools properly and safely.

Students will make a series of small, useful items using only hand tools. Students will also cut, by hand, several basic woodworking joints. All materials for this class are supplied for the students.

I can strongly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in starting or improving their basic hand tool skills. I walked away from the class with a new handmade sanding block with my first ever inlay:

This may not seem like a very big deal but we started with a piece of Mahogany that had been cut out of square in every dimension on purpose, and then we flattened and trued it up using only hand planes.

To continue on with our hand plane skill torture test we also made this:

Yes, I know it looks like a dowel. In fact it IS a 1” dowel. However it started as a 1 1/4” square piece of stock (with 2 true faces) and we turned them into dowels using (again) nothing but hand planes.

Our final project of the weekend involved hand cutting both through and half blind dovetails:

Walnut face with poplar side.

“drawer” side and back.

If you click on any of the pictures above you will get the full sized high-res versions of the photo’s.

So know I feel much smarter, and more validated in calling myself a “woodworker”. All that’s left, as Chuck told us when we left, is practice, practice, practice.

-- Kerry Drake, Loudon NH,

2 comments so far

View ShannonRogers's profile


540 posts in 3212 days

#1 posted 11-05-2010 09:16 PM

I too am a graduate of the Chuck Bender school of hard knocks. Chuck has an encyclopedic knowledge of furniture making so you learn more than one can possibly remember in one weekend. Nice job on those dovetails Kerry.

-- The Hand Tool School is Open for Business! Check out my blog and podcast "The Renaissance Woodworker" at

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 2750 days

#2 posted 11-06-2010 07:26 PM

Drool! Lucky you!

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