Study Carpentry at Home
This is a very solid introduction to carpentry techniques. It provides an understanding of most aspects of carpentry that are important for developing practical skills as a handyman, landscaper, property manager, farmer or other such roles.
Learn about working with wood in landscaping, building construction, furniture making, fencing or any other application.
This course is not a substitute for the practical instruction one might obtain over a long apprenticeship, internship or other such experience. The purpose of the course is to provide a balanced and broad understanding of wood work through the exploration of a range of applications.
Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.
Effects of Shrinkage
Shrinkage occurs when timber is dried or seasoned because wood naturally holds water, and this water is lost during these processes. As water is lost, the timber shrinks in both thickness (depth) and width. Timber only shrinks nominally across it length and so this is not an issue.
- Tangential shrinkage refers to shrinkage around the circumference of a log and accounts for most shrinkage. This is more of a problem in flat sawn (back cut) timber which is cut tangentially and can tend to warp or bend along the length.
- Radial shrinkage refers to shrinkage along the radius. Boards which have been quarter cut are more likely to have radial shrinkage but ultimately the board retains its shape, it just becomes slightly smaller on the cross-section.
Tangential shrinkage can be twice as much as radial shrinking (approximately 12% v 6%). Posts which have been cut square can tend to twist with shrinkage forming a diamond-shaped cross-section.
The way the tree has been grown, harvested, and handled can have implications for the timber end-product. Some are better grown slowly (giving denser tissue), some can be damaged if not seasoned correctly.
This is the drying of timber. Timber is seasoned so that shrinkage takes place before the timber is used in carpentry and joinery. Splits, shakes, warps and twists can be removed or cut out before the timber is used during machine cutting.
- Natural seasoning - this is where the timber is allowed to dry naturally through contact with the air. Timber seasoned in this way is usually stacked in warehouses where it is exposed to the air but protected from rain. It could remain like this for several months up to a year.
- Artificial seasoning - the most common method of doing this is kiln drying. Here, the timber is stacked in kilns. Moist, heated air is applied. The temperature is slowly increased and the humidity level is slowly decreased to avoid splitting.
Nowadays, most timbers are dried artificially, but sometimes a combination of both methods may be used.
Stacking Timber Boards for Seasoning
Boards must be stacked properly to reduce the impact of shrinkage:
- Use only a flat surface.
- Ensure the ground is dry.
- Place load-bearing wooden lengths of timber (2 x 1 inch) onto the ground spaced out evenly in parallel at around 1.2m apart (these should be slightly longer than the boards are wide and run perpendicular to them).
- Place a board horizontally on top of these load-bearing supports.
- Add wooden spacers which are a smaller gauge timber than the ground supports (these should line up over the supports and be as long as the boards are wide).
- Continue to stack layers of boards horizontally on top of layers of spacers ensuring that each board and each spacer are exactly on top of one another. This helps to prevent boards from twisting as they dry and allows air to move freely around them.
- The ends of the boards should then be painted or sealed with thin strips of timber nailed to them. This is done to stop the ends from drying out before the rest of the boards and thereby resulting in end-splitting. If the very end load-bearing support and spacing battens are all flush with the ends of the boards this will also help to keep drying at the ends under control.
After You Graduate
Your understanding of wood and building things with wood will be expanded greatly by doing this course.
This is an important and valuable skill in today's world.
- For some, this may be the theoretical foundation upon which to base a career or business.
- For others it may deepen and expand a basic understanding you already have.
- This course is a solid and comprehensive foundation that will enable you to approach future carpentry projects, small or large, in a more informed and appropriate way.
- You will save time and money by being able to undertake jobs yourself rather than having to wait, then pay high fees to employ a tradesman.
- It will improve your scope of opportunity, and capacity to succeed in any job that is associate with carpentry, from property development and handyman, to landscape construction and furniture making.