Discover the theory and practice of carpentry. Understand different timbers, tools and use of fixings. Learn about cutting, joining and making things from wood from shelves to door frames. Course includes practical projects.

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

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A solid foundation in carpentry techniques 

This course 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.

Find out about different types of timber, carpentry tools, cutting, making joints, and finishing. Undertake several woodwork projects, photograph your work and have it assessed.    

Learn about working with wood and apply your knowledge 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.
Course Summary

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, repainting
    • 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

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.

The Workshop

A workshop may be any area you designate as your chief area for storing tools and working on your projects and need not necessarily be a custom built workshop. It could be a shed, the area beneath a carport, or a basement.
Hanging Tools on Wall

Often space is at a premium in the workshop and so in order to make the most of the available space, it makes sense to hang tools on the wall. This also has the added benefit of making them readily visible and easily accessible. The simplest way to hang tools is to hammer nails into studs or drill screws into brick walls and leave them protruding. Screw in hooks can also be used. For tools which don't have a suitable handle or shape for hanging this way, two nails or screws the width of the tool handle may be used to brace the tool. Some people might suggest drilling a hole through the tool handle if none exists - we wouldn't; not only will you devalue your tools, you may also hit the metal shaft of the tool within the handle which could cause dangerous splinters to fly out and will destabilise the tool.

Other means of hanging tools include the pegboard. This is a simple and affordable system which utilises a pre-drilled piece of hardboard which can be secured to a frame or wall. If you secure it to the face of a wall you will need to ensure that it is slightly proud of the wall be fixing spacers behind it. This way you will still be able to get your hooks through the holes. Various different shaped and sized tool hangers are available which can be inserted through the holes which are set out evenly in rows. This enables you to choose only the hangers you need, and to personalise your pegboard. You can also make your own hangers from pieces of wire (plastic coated will not damage the tools) or twine. Other systems include using an elastic cord which can be pegged in place every few holes or so working horizontally across the board. This allows for spaces where the cord can be pulled out to accommodate tools.

Various other purpose-built modular tool wall storage hangers are available. Some of these could be secured to a peg board, but they could be used as an alternative. You would need to work out what tools you have, and whether or not there is a suitably shaped module for your tools before opting for one of these. Also consider where you want to hang it and whether it will protrude too much, or whether you will be able to secure it sufficiently well.

A Work Bench

This is one of the most useful things you will need as a woodworker. The workbench is where you will spend a lot of time working on your projects. There is no ideal bench since it is a matter of personal taste and preference in terms of what type of wok you are likely to undertake on it. Nevertheless, there are some important considerations.

The carpenter's or wood worker's bench is a means of holding timber whilst it is being worked on. If you have the space, it is preferable to be able to walk around all sides of the bench rather than have it butted up against a wall.
The bench can include a number of components to enable you to manipulate work:

  • The vice - the bench may include one or more vices of the same or differing size. If more than one vice is to be installed, each vice should be placed on different ends or sides of the bench so that use of one does not prohibit use of another. Woodworking vices are made from wood or metal (sometimes plastic). Metal vices should have wooden interior faces attached to the jaws so as not to damage the timber when it is secured inside it. The vice is set so that the tops of the jaws are flush with the surface of the bench. On older vices the jaws are wound in and out using a threaded handle. On newer vices, the handle is a lever attached to a split nut meaning that it can be quickly detached from the thread and the vice slid up to the work - saving time from winding in the jaws.
  • Bench dogs - these are wooden pegs which are inserted into dog holes in the bench top and are used to aid in clamping wood together. The vice itself often has a bench dog in it which is typically an iron peg and the other dog holes are set out parallel to this. Bench dogs may be of rectangular section or rounded, though they are usually the former since it is easier to get these to grip in the holes.
  • Holdfast - these are metal arms or hooks which resemble the top of a shepherd's staff. They act as a third hand and are slotted through a hole in the work bench surface so that the tip of the hook rests on, and secures, the piece of timber which is being worked on. The holdfast is secured in the bench surface by tapping it with a mallet, and released by tapping it from underneath. Other versions have a threaded end so that they may be screwed to the bench top, and they have a clamp which can be tightened onto the work to hold it in place.
  • Planing stop - these are something which can be used to prevent a piece of timber from moving whilst it is being planed. Bench dogs could be used for this purpose, but usually a separate system is employed such as a wooden strip secured to the bench surface. It may or may not be secured permanently. The stop may be affixed at one end of the bench where the height is adjusted to match the work, and then it is set below the surface when not being used. 

The bench itself needs to be strong enough that it can withstand heavy work being undertaken on it, and heavy enough that it doesn't keep moving every time a plane is pushed with force or a nail is hammered in. The depth of the bench top also needs to be deep enough to support any vices. An ideal bench top would be something around 3-4 inches thick. It could be built up of several boards of MDF for example with a solid hardwood surface such as oak or beech. Marine ply may offer a better under layer since it will not warp due to moisture. If using MDF as a top layer consider that it will produce toxic sawdust. If using other composites consider that some e.g. plywood will produce splinters. If you can afford it, a hardwood surface without any coating is best (coatings can mark timber which is being worked on).

A basic design would be something like a 60cm x 1.5m (2 feet by 5 feet) bench top, four upright posts of 100mm x 100mm (4 x 4 inch) section, eight cross rails between the posts of 50mm x 100mm (2 x 4 inch) section (one set flush with the top of the posts where the bench top sits, and one set about a foot from the floor), one board around 2 foot by 4 foot to sit on the lower set of rails to form a shelf. Mortise and tenon joints will be very strong, but dowelled joints and threaded rods can also be used.


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
  • Landscaping
  • Furniture making
  • Fencing
  • 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.

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John Mason

Writer, Manager, Teacher and Businessman with over 40 years interenational experience covering Education, Publishing, Leisure Management, Education, and Horticulture. He has extensive experience both as a public servant, and as a small business owner. J
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.,
Martin Powdrill

25 years working in Telecommunications, IT, Organisational Development, and Energy Conservation & Efficiency, prior to setting up his own Permaculture consulting business. Martin has a Bsc (Hons) Applied Science (Resources Option), MSc Computer Studies, P