John Shaw series Two

Our friend and woodworking guru John Shaw is back in August and September for four more classes covering all things fine woodworking. This is an excellent opportunity to develop your knowledge and woodworking skills with the guidance of a true expert in the field.

The final two classes were postponed to September 28 and 29.

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About John Shaw

John Shaw has been teaching fine woodworking for thirty years. He studied in the UK at Rycotewood College and at the invitation of James Krenov in California at the College of the Redwoods. He taught craft design and visual arts at Nelson Polytechnic before setting up the Centre for Fine Woodworking in Nelson in 2006 and teaching the full-time programme until 2016.

He now teaches and mentors from his own workshop at Kanuka Rise, Wakapuaka, Nelson.

Find out more about John here.

Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 August 2019

Course 1: 2 days

Build a cabinetmakers’ workbench

(all levels of ability)

Learn how to use machinery safely and accurately to build a flexible compact workbench over two days. This bench works superbly in small and large workshops or on the kitchen table. Set the height to perfectly match your height.

Machines utilised include bandsaw, jointer, thicknesser, table saw, biscuit jointer, drill press and router table.

What you will learn:

  • How to machine a set of components straight and square.

  • How to glue up into a single surface.

  • How to re-machine components true and cut them to length and square.

  • How to fit ends using routed slots.

  • How to drill holes to use for hold downs.  

  • How to tidy up and give your work a completed and cohesive feel.

The fitting of a vice will be demonstrated but is not part of the course due to time restrictions. We will discuss vices and holding methods and working heights to enable you to make decisions about what you prefer, and can help you fit it at a time that suits.

The bench is approximately 1000mm long by 200-250mm wide.



Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 August 2019
9am – 5pm with a one hour lunch break and tea breaks.



Includes all materials and a vice.

max Six participants

Friday 23, Saturday 24, Sunday 25 August

Course 2: 3 days

Dovetailing - boxes within boxes

(all levels of ability)

Learn how to work carefully and accurately while making a series of dovetailed boxes by hand. We will be making four small and one large box, and each box will be made in a different wood. The boxes fit alongside each other within a larger dovetailed box to make a distinctive and personal piece of work. 

A well-cut dovetail joint offers strength and visual interest in equal measure. For woodworkers, tackling dovetails is a rite of passage. Dovetails encapsulate all the skills and logic needed in fine woodworking, while the repetition required when making several boxes provides space for improvement and charts your progress.

What you will learn:

  • How to prepare wood for dovetailing.

  • How to plan and set out dovetails.

  • How to set up your tools for dovetailing.

  • How to saw to a marked line.

  • How to use chisels to pare dovetails and shoulders straight and square.

  • How to bring two parts of a dovetail joint to a fit.

  • How to allow for, and fit simple bottoms and lids to boxes.

  • How to clean up and finish interior faces prior to gluing up.

  • How to set up blocks and clamps to ensure a successful glue up.

  • How to clean joints and faces after gluing.

  • How to apply a simple finish using shellac, wax and oil.



Friday 23, Saturday 24, Sunday 25 August 2019
9am – 5pm with a one hour lunch break and short tea breaks.



Max Six participants

Saturday 31 August 2019

Course 3 : half Day

What woodworkers need to know about wood

(all levels of ability)

This class offers woodworkers a practical guide to understanding the material we use. Understanding the technical side of wood as a material is critical to creating work that functions as intended and lasts.

What you will learn:

  • The concept of a classic timber.

  • The general structure a tree establishes as it grows, and how this dictates the appearance and strength of the wood we use.

  • How the location of a growing tree effects the wood.

  • Hardwoods and softwoods and hard wood and soft wood and what’s the difference?

  • Sawing logs. Volume or figure?

  • Moisture in wood. What is green wood? What is dry wood? 

  • Why do woodworkers need dry wood, and how can we tell when is wood dry? 

  • Why does wood move? Growth stress and drying stress, and how to predict their presence.

  • Shrinkage, what’s going on?

  • Durability.

  • What is figure?

  • What grain is and how to predict it.

  • Woodworking best practice. How to work with your wood to avoid technical failure.

  • Ins and outs of individual timbers.

  • Q&A.



Saturday 28 September

9am – 12pm for the morning course
1.30pm - 4.30pm for the afternoon course



Max 12 participants per Session

Sunday 1 September 2019

Course 4 : 1 day

Finishing Techniques

(all levels of ability)

Getting a subtle and understated finish on your work can be difficult, here’s your chance to get hands on with simple methods and finishes. Learn how to set up and use planes, scrapers, sandpaper, wax, shellac and oil to prepare and finish surfaces.

There are several ways of preparing surfaces prior to applying a finish, and the correct method is usually decided by the type and qualities of the wood being used. We will each work with a set of different woods, bringing each piece to a good finish by selecting and applying the best methods.

What you will learn:

  • How to use a sharp plane to plane a surface. 

  • How to sharpen and use scrapers, to finish difficult grained woods.

  • How to use sandpaper effectively by hand and power.

  • How to decide the best finishing process for different woods in different situations.

  • How to use shellac, wax and oils.

  • How to apply best workshop practice and work safely with these materials.



Sunday 29 September
9am – 5pm with a one hour lunch break and short tea breaks.



Max 12 participants