Add to your skillset with this foundation course in carpentry. Ideal for tradesmen, builders, home renovators, landscapers, or handymen. Learn the basics of cutting, joining and finishing timber and apply to landscape projects.

Course Code: BSS100
Fee Code: S1
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Carpentry skills and knowledge are advantageous for landscapers

Landscapers do  need to use wood, and understand how to use it properly and appropriately; whether they actually do the carpenty themselves or not.

Wood is used in a wide range of landscape applications including decking, pergolas, trellis, furniture, garden sheds, fencing, window boxes and planters. 

Although much of this carpentry course is concerned with using timber inside buildings, there are parts concerned directly with outdoor uses. Also, the knowledge and awareness you can gain here can be applied to outdoor scenarios. 

Study Carpentry at Home

Carpentry skills are useful to many occupations - this course provides an understanding of most aspects of carpentry that are important for developing practical skills as a:
  • Handyman
  • Gardener
  • Landscaper
  • Property manager
  • Farmer
  • Home renovator
  • Backyard enthusiast

There are practical projects built into this course so you can put what you learn into practice.

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; but it does provide a balanced and broad understanding of wood work; exploring the broad range of applications; and in doing so, complements and enhances the development of your knowledge about carpentry.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Carpentry
  2. Carpentry Tools, Equipment, Materials and Safety
  3. Cutting and Joining Timber
  4. Small Carpentry Projects
  5. Outside Construction
  6. Constructing Small Buildings
  7. Understanding House Construction
  8. Handyman Repair Work
  9. Finishing Wood
  10. Planning and Setting Out a Project

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.



Timber is an organic material.  It can shrink, swell and change colour in response to environmental conditions, and it can be prone to damage from pests and wood rots. Therefore, timber for use in outdoor projects needs to be carefully selected.

Some timbers are more weather or pest-resistant than others. Timber that is vulnerable to termites, boring insects, and fungal rots should be raised off the ground or treated before going outdoors. 

Timbers which are suitable for contact with the ground include:

• Jarrah
• Merbau
• River red gum
• Turpentine.

Timbers that can be used outdoors without being painted include: 

• Celery top pine
• Brush box
• Jarrah
• Kapur
• River red gum
• Stringybark.

Other timbers used outdoors but which need some protection (e.g. painting, staining or preservative) include:

• Radiata pine
• Redwood
• Western red cedar
• Blue gum
• Tallow wood.

Of course there may be other more suitable and more readily available timbers depending on your location. If you are uncertain whether your timber is weather and pest resistant, treat it with preservative.


There are many things to consider when choosing timber for work outdoors. 

The Type of Timber
Is it strong enough to support the load it is expected to carry?
Is it suitable for outdoor use?
Will it need to be treated?
Does it look good?
Does it need to look good, or will it be painted or concealed within the construction perhaps?

Timber Quality
Does it have straight grain?
Are there many knots in the wood?
Are there splits, chips or other damage in the wood? 
Will any defects render it useless for the proposed use?

Moisture Content
It is always preferable to buy cured or ‘seasoned’ timber.  Dried timber is stronger than freshly cut wood.  Timber that is bought while green can split or crack later. However, for outdoor use, timber with around 20% moisture is preferred as it will not swell as much due to humidity as timber used indoors which is typically dried to around 9% moisture.

Timber Strength
The strongest wood comes from heartwood or inner wood of a tree.  The strength of this timber is determined by the density of the dead plant cells that make up the wood.  In other words, the closer the tree rings, the stronger the timber.   

Timber strength is affected by the angle of the cut into the tree log.  Wherever possible, choose timber that has been cut lengthways, as this will be the stronger wood. Likewise, if you are cutting your own timber from logs, to make rustic garden features for example, then likewise cut along the length to produce your timber. 

The way that timber is dried also has an effect on its overall strength.  If it is dried gradually, it will become stronger than similar timber that is dried quickly in a kiln. If you are seasoning your own timber and you have the time and patience, season it for two years rather than one. In most countries timber is classified according to its strength. In Australia, for instance, timber strength is classified into twelve different grades e.g. F5, F8, etc.  The higher the ‘F’ number, the greater the strength of the timber. Choose an appropriate strength of timber for each outdoor construction project

Dressed Timber
Timber that is ‘dressed’ has been sanded or planed to form smooth sides. This is preferable for outdoor furniture, hand rails, gazebos, and so forth. For other projects, dressed timber may not be necessary e.g. for vertical lap fences or shed exteriors.  

The type of pests which may be a problem for outdoor timber construction projects will obviously depend on the country and region you live in.


Most termites do not pose a problem to construction and only feed on decaying plant matter. Of all species, less than 10% are troublesome. Those termites which do pose a problem for construction are in many countries. In Australia termites are known as white ants, although they are not true ants. Since Australia introduced restrictions on the use of hazardous termite control chemicals, the incidence of termites affecting properties has greatly increased. There is a big risk in many parts of Australia, but if you understand what termites like and dislike, you can minimise your risk of having a serious attack.

Termites are more likely to nest in timber that is in contact with the soil, but they can enter a building, timber seat or wooden pergola higher up as well. They will also attack railway sleepers, even if they are soaked with oil; in fact, termites often make nests inside sleeper walls.


Most timber needs to be treated with preservative if it is to be used for outdoor projects. This will not only increase the resistance of the timber to rots and decay, but also to insect attack. As such, the useful life of the timber may be extended. Although, as previously discussed, some timbers are more durable for outdoors - you should ensure that you are either using a weather and pest resistant timber; or you have treated it before exposing it to the weather.

Timber preservatives work by either sealing the surface or soaking into the timber, or a combination of both. This discourages fungal rots and insects from feeding on the wood. Preservatives are long lasting, and whilst applying them may be initially more expensive than paints or stains, over the life of the product the cost is justified due to the reduction in maintenance cost and time.
Oil-based paints are a popular way to preserve timber without losing the look and texture of the wood. Some oil paints include colouring that can actually enhance the appearance of the timber.  Paint is not as effective as some other timber preservatives, and it will usually be necessary to recoat the wood every few years, or wherever it flakes off. Paint may also be used on treated timbers as an extra layer of security. Stains may be used to give a more natural appearance. They are also easier to touch up.

The main protective liquids are in the form of toxic oils and include bitumen based products such as creosote. These are effective, but they are black, flammable, have an unpleasant odour, and may destroy plant and non-pest insect life they come into contact with. 

Other protective liquids are in the form of water-borne inorganic salts. CCA (chromated copper arsenate) is used to treat pine and other softwoods.  It is made from copper, chromium, and arsenic, and gives timber a characteristic grey-green colour. The arsenic acts as the insect deterrent, the copper fends off fungal attack, and the chromium binds these active ingredients to the cell walls in the timber. Once applied, it should not leach from the timber, however some studies have demonstrated small leakages of arsenic into surrounding soil over a long period of time, and so the use of CCA treated timber is restricted in some countries in residential areas.  CCA treated timber should never be burnt in open fires since it will produce toxic fumes when it combusts.  Other products have become more used because of conserns with CCA. Some of these include ammoniacal copper zinc arsenate (ACZA), various alkaline copper quarternary compounds (ACQs), and copper azole (CuAz).

Various other types of water-borne organic preservatives will also prevent fungal disease. These include copper and zinc napthenate. Most water-borne protectants can be used on interior as well as exterior timbers.

Preservatives may be applied by brushing, spraying, dipping, or steeping in hot or cold preservative baths until thoroughly soaked. The preservative may be heated to 95° with the timber submersed in it, so that air is forced out of the timber pores. When it is allowed to cool the preservative is sucked into the pores.

Alternatively, preservatives are applied under pressure before the timber is made available for sale. The timber is placed in a cylinder and air is withdrawn to create a vacuum, which forces air out of the timber pores. Hot preservative is then injected under pressure for up to six hours.  
If you are using timber preservatives, always be careful.  Wear a mask and gloves, as some of these chemicals can be very toxic. If you cut pre-treated timber in to lengths ready for assembly, coat the cut ends with preservative and allow to dry before use.  


Benefits of Studying This Course

This course is aimed at anyone, anywhere who is interested in working with wood or would like to improve their skills:

•For those many jobs around the home
•Furniture making
•For the handy-person offering work in this field but without a qualification.

It may also appeal to people who wish to get a taste of carpentry with a view to going on to further training.


How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

Simply click on the ENROL OPTIONS button at the top of this screen and follow the prompts.

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What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

You don’t need to purchase any additional resources to complete our courses.

We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments.
If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course has been designed to cover the fundamentals of the topic. It will take around 100 hours to complete, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and anything else that is contained in the course. Our short courses are a great way to do some professional development or to learn a new skill.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $60 incl. GST for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exam and you will be able receive your course certificate- a Statement of Attainment. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

ACS has an arrangement with OAMPS (formerly AMP) who can arrange Professional Indemnity from Australian and New Zealand graduates across all disciplines. Ph: 1800 222 012 or email

Who are ACS Distance Education?

ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future.
We are focused on helping you learn and make the most of your experience.
You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.

How do I enrol my staff/ sponsored students?

Yes, you can do a request for a bulk enrolment and request an invoice on our Invoice Request Form

We can prepare an invoice, quote or proforma invoice. Simply complete your details on our Invoice Request form

We can arrange bulk discounts for your course enrolment, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

Yes, we have many students who are in locked facilities, such as prisons or hospitals. We can cater by also offering paper notes at an additional cost.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world.

Jacinda Cole

Former operations manager for highly reputable Landscape firm, The Chelsea Gardener, before starting her own firm. Jacinda has over 20 years of industry experience in Psychology, Landscaping, Publishing, Writing and Education. Jacinda has a B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA.


Meet some of the tutors that guide the students through this course.

Maggi Brown

Maggi is regarded as an expert in organic growing throughout the UK, having worked for two decades as Education Officer at the world renowned Henry Doubleday Research Association (Now Garden Organic). Since leaving the employ of Garden Organic, she has been honoured with a life membership. She has been active in education, environmental management and horticulture across the UK for more than three decades.

Yvonne Sharpe

Over 30 years of experience in horticulture, education and management, Yvonne has travelled widely within and beyond Europe, and has worked in many areas of horticulture from garden centres to horticultural therapy. She has served on industry committees and been actively involved with amateur garden clubs for decades.

Jacinda Cole

Jacinda has expertise in psychology and horticulture. She holds a BSc (hons) in Psychology and a Masters in Psychology (Clinical) and also trained in psychoanalytic psychotherapy at the London Centre for Psychotherapy. In horticulture she has a Certificate in Garden Design and ran her own landscaping and garden design business for a number of years. Jacinda also has many years experience in course development and educational writing.

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