Work Alongside Our Master Craftsman


For years I have been asked if Hardwood Artisans offers classes in woodworking, or if we would allow customers to “apprentice” in the shop. About 3 years ago, we did a test run for making tables in the shop. It was a successful test, and the customers and craftsmen were equally enriched.

Fast forward to this year’s Lemonade Social. We had Sergio and Freddie assemble a Simply Beautiful Secretary as part of our demonstrations. I watched the responses from customers, listened to the questions they were asking, noted the excitement they had in watching the process, and concluded that it must be time to try this class idea again.

We needed to decide on something relatively simple, but large enough to have a sense of accomplishment for the time dedicated to the project, and get it finished in just 16 hours. These are three tough specifications, especially the 16 hour constraint. We decided on dining tables, but when surveyed, many people wanted drawers (either for the kitchen table, or for a table desk).

We worked out the specifics on getting drawers made as well in the same 16 hours. What that meant in real high tech terms is that Kevin Carlson and I sat down and doodling over a legal pad, working out the timing of the project. Very complicated stuff…This is how most things get done around here. We have all been doing this for so long, we know exactly how long it takes to get through any particular cycle.

People ask me how long it takes to make this piece or that case. In our shop, it takes on average 60% of the time to construct the piece, and another 40% of the time to sand and finish off the details. We tend to spend an exhaustive amount of time doing the finishing details, but that is what gives the furniture that special look and feel.

The Table Making Class will require many machining steps. All the legs are two halves that are glued together. They will be rough cut, ripped, book-matched, run through an 80 grit sander, and then glued up into a larger blank. Later, these blanks will be trimmed down into perfect squares, cut off, mortised, drilled, and finally tapered. Lastly, all the finish sanding needs to be done on the legs.

The tops need to be pulled out to a rough length, ripped, marked, and glued in two separate gluing cycles. Afterward, the tops will get planed down to a little over final thickness, and then run through a wide belt dual head sander. After, yes, more finish sanding with pneumatic sanders, starting off with a180 grit, and finishing out with a 280 grit sanded piece.

The aprons will be ripped, planed, edged, and tenoned to fit into the leg mortises. Further notching and top clip grooving takes place, and then, yes, more sanding.

In the case of table desks, there will be drawer parts, half blind dovetails, dados, and notches to be done. When making a drawer, there are five parts involved per drawer. There are also two side walls, two upper runners and two lower runners, drawer stops, etc. Each drawer adds about 13 additional parts to the project.

There are lots of parts and lots of joints. This class will rock, and we will certainly roll through the entire process at a pretty good pace. So, if you are game, come on down. We would love to share this experience with you.

If you’re interested in the class either call our Fairfax showroom, or e-mail Erin (erin@hardwoodartisans) or Mark ( We hope to see you in Culpeper!

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