Centre for Fine Woodworking - Beginners Intensive

New Zealand's premier furniture making, woodworking & design school






Beginners Intensive Programmes:

We offer two exciting opportunities for students of beginner/intermediate skill level for students to come immerse themselves in an 8-week intensive programme.

Both courses have the same starting point; one offers a substantial design & make project, whereas the other course has defined skill-building projects and some toolmaking. The two options complement each other so you can choose one or the other (or both!)

These two eight week intensive beginners’ programmes establish a very solid skill base for all aspiring woodworkers and provides the core foundation skills for future fine furniture making and woodworking. No prior experience is necessary, although this course will also be of great benefit in developing the skills and accuracy of those students who have already done some woodworking.

The course content is all practical teaching and learning, with the full eight weeks being spent here at your own personal bench with your own toolkit (with tools only befitting that of a serious woodworker). Students quickly gain skills due to the small class size and individual attention from the tutor.


Designing the Modernist Cabinet with Brian Reid
12th February — 6th April 2018
Course Fee: $7200 plus the cost of timber for the cabinet

Course outline:

  • Introduction to chisels, handplanes and saws: Tuning, sharpening and use of hand tools
  • Introduction to hand and machine cut joinery: Dovetails, mortise and tenon, miters, finger joints, and many more
  • Understanding the basics of cabinet making. Structure of a well-made cabinet, fitting doors and drawers.
  • Understanding adhesives and appropriate use
  • Understanding hand applied finishes
  • Basic practices in veneering, coopering, laminating, shaping
  • Introduction to design and the history of furniture making
  • The importance of sketching, drafting, and model making


  • Weeks 1 — 2 — Build a pair of saw horses - An essential part of the kit! This project introduces us to working with wood and how the nature of wood influences design. Appropriate uses of joinery will be discussed at length. We will learn how to take a piece of wood and make it flat and square both by hand and by machine. This project will focus on using hand tools for joinery. We will learn dovetailing and wedged mortise and tenons. We will also introduce power tools for cutting joinery.
  • Week 3 — 8: Design and build a smallish cabinet with no more than 2 doors and 2 drawers
  • Week 3 — 4: Introduction to design and structure, history of furniture design, sketching, model making, working drawings, and group presentations.
  • Week 4 — 8: Build your cabinet. This includes many more demos and lectures on joinery, joinery systems and their relationship to structure, how to organize the workflow also known as making strategies, timber selection, veneering with both commercial and shop-made veneers, coopering, laminating with veneers and plywood, drawer construction, fitting doors and drawers, glue up strategies, fixing mistakes, finishing.


Beginners Intensive with Thorkild Hansen
4th June — 27th July 2018
Course Fee: $7200 including all materials

Students will create three pieces of work which will clearly show that every attention to detail has been considered. Projects undertaken not only have been designed specifically to increase your skill level, but also designed by a practising furniture maker — so you take home with you an increased level of knowledge and experience as well as some stunning pieces of work.

Course outline:

  • The use of traditional hand tools and the tuning and sharpening of chisels and planes
  • Accurate timber preparation
  • Hand cutting mortise and tenon and dovetail joints
  • The safe and efficient understanding and use of machinery and power tools — maintenance, identification and applications.
  • Joints — cutting, assembly, identification, construction and choosing the right joint for the job
  • Chairmaking, veneering, coopering and steam bending
  • Tool making — plane, hammer, dovetail marker, stock scraper
  • Timber selection, characteristics, movement, moisture content, costing and estimating quantities
  • Sanding and finishing — types and application — surface preparation — scrapers, abrasives
  • Visits to a timber yard and practising furniture maker’s workshop
  • Access to the school’s extensive library for woodworking and design inspiration



Enrolling on a course

To enrol on a course or workshop - please complete the form below. As the maximum number of students we have in any class is eight, some of our courses fill up quickly so please check with us first if there is a space available - we wouldn't want you to be disappointed.

To secure a place we require a non-refundable deposit of $350 and once this is received we will confirm your enrolment. The balance of the course fee is due 30 days prior to the start of the course.

Please complete the form below or if you prefer please phone us on
(03) 5452674.

Please use the form below to give details of the course you wish to enrol on.

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Beginners Intensive
Steam bending

Beginners Intensive
Beginners Intensive with Thorkild Hansen

Beginners Intensive
Adhesives and appropriate use with Brian Reid

Beginners Intensive
Timber selection