Learn how to make things from wood by gaining an understanding of carpentry theory and practice. Carry out repairs at home or build out of timber. Put theory into practice with practical projects included in the course.

Course CodeBSS100
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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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.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Carpentry
    • Understanding Wood
    • Resistance to Rot, Fire
    • Defects in Timber
    • Turning Trees into Timber
    • Ways of Cutting Logs
    • Shrinkage Effects
    • Seasoning Timber
    • Moisture content of Wood
    • Stress Grading
    • Types of Wood
    • Types of Composites
    • Buying Timber
  2. Carpentry Tools, Equipment, Materials and Safety
    • Hand Tools -saws, hammers, chisels drills, planes,screwdrivers, other tools
    • Power Tools -nail guns, saws, electric drills, planer, sander, router
    • Materials -sandpaper, steel wool, nails, wood screws, glues, wood filler
    • Safety
    • Tool Maintenance
    • Sharpening techniques
    • Sharpening tools -planes, chisels, saws
    • Cutting and Joining Timber
    • Storage -tool boxes
    • Hiring tools
  3. Cutting and Joining Timber
    • Types of joints -edge, butt,angled, mitres, framing, dovetail, mortise and tenon, housing joints, halving joints, etc.
    • Nails
    • Screws
    • Staples, bolts, connectors, straps, corrugated fasteners, glues
    • Glue blocks, dowels, biscuits, splines
    • Cutting and shaping timber
  4. Small Carpentry Projects
    • Hanging tools on a wall
    • The work bench
    • Making a work bench
    • Making a simple 2 door cupboard
    • Making a coffee table
    • Making a bookcase
  5. Outside Construction
    • Choosing timber
    • Pests -termites
    • Timber preservatives
    • Keeping timber off the ground
    • Using timber in the garden
    • Recycled timbers
    • Outdoor furniture
    • Building a wood deck
    • Building a wood fence
    • Where to build in the garden
    • Constructing a wall with railway sleepers
  6. Constructing Small Buildings
    • Types of foundations
    • Framing
    • Roofing
    • Building a wooden cabin
    • Building a wood gazebo
    • Building a cubby house
  7. Understanding House Construction
    • Timber framed buildings
    • Timber floors
    • Doors and door frames
    • Door Construction
    • Door frames
    • Architraves and skirting
    • Windows and frames-sash, sliding sash, casement, pivot, slat
    • Roofs -single, double, trussed,etc
  8. Handyman Repair Work
    • Fitting a lock
    • Repairing a sash window
    • Fitting and hanging doors
    • Hanging a cupboard door
    • Form work for concrete foundations
    • Relaying floorboards
    • Resurfacing timber floors
    • Repairing a broken ledge and brace gate
  9. Finishing Wood
    • Creating smooth surfaces -using a plane, sanding, etc.
    • Paints, stains and varnishes
    • Polyurethane
    • Shellac
    • French polishing
    • Stains
    • Paints -defects in painted surfaces, repaiting
    • Veneering
    • Preparing outdoor surfaces
    • Tips for outdoor finishes
  10. Planning and Setting Out a Project
    • Setting out
    • Making a setting out rod
    • Introduction to technical or trade drawing
    • Drawing instruments
    • Types of drawings -plans, sections, elevations, etc
    • setting out a technical drawing
    • Building regulations
    • Measuring up
    • Working out quantities
    • Preparing and surveying a site for construction

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.


  • Describe the scope and nature of carpentry; differentiate between different timber products, and discuss the appropriate use of each.
  • Describe all significant carpentry tools and identify appropriate uses for each. Identify and manage risk in a carpentry workplace.
  • Describe a range of different techniques for cutting wood in a variety of different situations.
  • Describe and compare different techniques for joining wood.
  • Undertake a small carpentry project.
  • Explain construction of different things in an outdoor situation with wood; including fences, furniture and retaining walls
  • Explain the construction of different types of small buildings which are constructed mainly with wood; including garden sheds, gazebos and cubbies.
  • Explain a range of common carpentry tasks that a handyman may need to undertake in routine maintenance and repair work.
  • Explain a range of different techniques for finishing wood.
  • Determine an appropriate approach for planning a timber construction project.
  • Explain how a site should be set out in preparation for a construction project.

How Do You Choose Timber that Suits the Job?
  • Not all Timber is Good Timber!
  • Some woods will suit one purpose but not another.
  • Strength, resistance to rot or termites, and other factors, all vary from one type of wood to another

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.


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Jacinda Cole

Former operations manager for highly reputable Landscape firm, The Chelsea Gardener, before starting his own firm. Gavin has over 20 years of industry experience in Psychology, Landscaping, Publishing, Writing and Education. Gavin has a B.Sc., Psych.Cert.
Bob James

Horticulturalist, Agriculturalist, Environmental consultant, Businessman and Professional Writer. Over 40 years in industry, Bob has held a wide variety of senior positions in both government and private enterprise. Bob has a Dip. Animal Husb, B.App.Sc.,