Woodworking Professional Training

Masterpiece School of Furniture (MSF) is a state-of-the-art woodworking school that creates an inspirational environment in which professionals and non-professionals are skillfully mentored in the superior techniques and exquisite fine art of furniture making.

Our Woodworking Professional Training series targets woodworker students who feel a powerfully deep calling from within – one which compels them to seek out immersive opportunities that will transform them into skilled woodworking artists who become known for creating unique, divinely beautiful, wonderfully functional fine furniture.

We mentor each student to develop the advanced skills needed to express their own inspired, distinctive style.  For example, we may explore the design nuances and practical considerations of working with specialized, exotic woods and surface textures, along with associated unique finishing techniques. We constantly seek those sweet, memorable moments when both instructor and student recognize the student’s shift into their next level of mastery.

At MSF, we don’t just attend to the inner artist.  Students graduating from our Professional Training courses, whether through intention or as a natural reflection of their achievements, often attract affluent or niche market clientele willing to generously compensate them for creating amazingly exquisite furniture.

Training Levels:  Our Professional Training is offered in three quarterly sessions:  Fall, Winter, and Spring.  Quarterly sessions  can be taken consecutively to form longer programs.  Students can choose to begin their training in any session and  have the following options:

  • Enroll in a single 12-week session (3-month program) and graduate at the Basic Furniture Making skill level.
  • Enroll in our 6-month program (2 consecutive quarterly sessions) and graduate at the Intermediate Furniture Making skill level.
  • Enroll in our 9-month program (3 consecutive quarterly sessions) and graduate with Masters-Level Furniture Making skills.

Our entire program takes 9 months of class time to deliver so we recommend that students enroll in 3 consecutive sessions to complete the full curriculum.

Topics and Skills:  The topics and skills listed below are taught both from a technical proficiency angle and an artistic expression perspective – all in the context of working on projects and at the appropriate level for each student (Basic, Intermediate, or Master-Level):

  • Furniture Making Introduction:  An overview of the general history and process for furniture making from classic to contemporary styles, design fundamentals, and an orientation to wood, tools, and the shop.
  • All About Wood:  What are the different characteristics of wood – how does each move, shrink, expand, respond – and how does one allow for all of this in design and building?  How do different woods respond to tooling and machinery?  What are practical considerations in selecting woods for different types of furniture – along with aesthetic considerations, finishing characteristics, issues with availability, cost, purchase sources, and environmental considerations?
  • Hand Tool Selection & Use:  In these classes we explore various hand tools such as chisels, hand planes, handsaws, etc. and train students how to use them safely and maintain them well. We go over various characteristics of different tools and make recommendations based on experience.  Students will learn how to select the perfect tool for the perfect result.
  • Machine & Power Tool Selection & Use:  We teach students the A-Z’s of various woodworking machines and power tools and train them in how to not only use these tools safely and maintain them well, but to use them creatively to express the student’s vision.  Tools and machines include table saws, routers, lathes, shapers, and other equipment/tools.
  • Shop Setup/design, and Protocols.  We begin with how to equip a shop on a budget and end with ideal scenarios.  These classes cover choosing tools and keeping the shop in order, as well as designing practical shop storage, timber racks, jigs, and other shop support systems and devices.
  • Designing:  Design choices reflect individual taste and skill.  In these classes we help students cultivate expertise make aesthetic and functional choices, choose furniture styles, learn how to hand draft and sketch projects, create models and prototypes, and use CAD (computer-aided design) systems.  We also address interpreting and building from stock or architectural designs.
  • Joinery:  In Joinery classes, students learn how to create and when to use various types of joints such as box, mortise and tenon, lap joints, half-lap joints, different through joints, special hidden joints, dovetails, tongue-and-groove, etc.  Special tool use, design and joinery selection considerations are also covered.
  • Turning:  Turning is an art in and of itself.  In these classes, students are mentored in how to choose and work with the perfect wood to get the perfect turning result.  We teach wet and dry wood work, specialty tool use such as lathes and skew chisels, and how to make custom tools for specific projects.  Techniques for spindle-work, hollow-end grain work, faceplate turning, and milling will be covered. We address special joinery considerations and precision fitting parts.
  • Carving:  Carving is a deeply satisfying and artistic expression.  In these classes, we train the student in how to select and optimally maintain carving tools, choose appropriate woods, and address specific design considerations.  We mentor them in basic and advanced relief carving techniques, lining in and grounding out, and modeling.
  • Curving & Bending:  In these classes we present specialized techniques in curving and bending such as steam and laminate.  We also train students to use specialized tools and processes for working with curved designs and to address unique design issues that arise when using these techniques.
  • Finishing:  It’s important to know how to select the right finish for the job and wood.  We train students in surface and material preparation, and in hand applied finishes such as oil, shellac, and varnishes.  Classes include selecting color and applying stains.  Specialty finishes such as French polishing are also covered along with training in how to use tools for finishing work and the proper use of fillers.
  • Veneering and Marquetry.  Learn to skillfully select and apply different veneers   using traditional methods make use of hide glue and a specialty veneer hammer.  We’ll also train you in techniques for using cold glues, and to do vacuum bag veneering with flat or curved cauls. Marquetry – the art of is creating pictures in wood and veneer, is also included in these classes.
  • Business Practices:  Our business classes teach students how to set up a new business (e.g. buying insurances, obtaining licenses, handling accounting), and include training in the art of estimating, proposal writing, marketing and sales, project and personnel management, and customer service.
  • Milking and/or Faking an Accent for all it’s Worth.  Have you ever noticed that craftspeople with foreign accents are automatically assumed to be old-world artists worthy of obscenely large fees?  In this class, we will help you make the most of your foreign accent, or teach you how to fake one convincingly so that you can take advantage of these silly stereotypes and command 50-200% more for your work/commissions.

Prerequisites:  Each level (Basic, Intermediate, and Master-Level) is a prerequisite for the next.  However, students entering our Professional Training series can submit to a Skills Assessment by one of MSF’s instructors to determine if they may enter into the program and receive more advanced instruction without first satisfying previous training requirements.

Training Length & Times:  Each professional training session (Fall, Winter, Spring) is 12 weeks in length and may include students at the Basic, Intermediate, or Master level. Our entire program takes 9 months to complete and so we recommend that students enroll in 3 consecutive sessions in order to complete the full curriculum.  Students attend small-group lectures, receive individualized instruction, and complete specific projects that are designed for their experience level.  Class instruction is available Mondays-Fridays from 9:00am-4:30pm with a 1-hour break for lunch.  The shop remains available for independent student work from 4:30pm to at least 8:00pm on most days.  The school is closed on holidays and there is a break between sessions and over part of the summer.  See our current schedule for specific session dates.

Project Work:  Training in furniture making skills happens through project work.  The main instructor will assign a project appropriate to the student’s skill level. Focus on that project over the course of the term will provide the student with opportunities to practice the skills being taught.

Professional Series Completion:  To fully complete MSF’s 9-month Professional Training program, students will need to attend all three levels of training: Basic, Intermediate, and Master-Level which collectively equal 36 weeks / 9 months of classes, and satisfy all class requirements for each level.  Students may enroll in 3 consecutive sessions (Fall, Winter, and Spring – in any order), and complete the entire professional training within 9 months – 1 calendar year.  Alternatively, students may space their training sessions out over a longer period.  For example, they may attend 1 session per year (Fall, Winter, or Spring – in any order), in which case completion of all training levels may take 3 years.  Students enroll in each level/session independently of all others and are not required to commit to / take all three levels of training, though completion of the entire series is highly recommended.  There are significant tuition discounts for students who, at the start of their training, enroll in multiple, consecutive 12-week sessions.

Open Shop Availability:  Open shop time is held on most  Mondays-Fridays 4:30pm to at least 8:00pm.  Weekend shop time is usually from 9:00am-6:00pm unless a class is in session – please see the class schedule for specific weekend shop availability.  Shop space is allocated on a space-available basis first to currently enrolled students, students enrolled for private mentorship sessions, and to instructors; and then to alumni of the professional school.  Shop access is free except to alumni who pay a small fee.  Our shop is not open to the public.

Certificates:  Students who successfully complete each professional level/session will receive a Certificate of Achievement from MSF for that specific course.

Course Entry Points:  There is great value in moving through our series of courses with a cohesive cohort of peers and our goal is to support this by having published start dates for each session.  However, because the nature of the instruction is so individualized, MSF may make allowances for students who wish to enter mid-session.  For example, If a student wants to enter in week 3 of the 12-week session, we may allow their enrollment contingent on their willingness to work outside of structured class hours and receive individual tutoring.

Concurrent Classes:  Some of our Project & Skills Workshops are also segments of our Professional Training, such as the class titled: Business Practices.  These classes will be required of professional students and are also opened to allow attendance by the public on a space available basis.

Paid Private or Shared Tutorials:  Students needing or wanting to receive private, customized instruction from a teacher in order to address particular challenges, keep up with the class or make up for absences, may arrange for Paid Private or Shared Tutorials during open shop time.  Tutorials are available on a space and instructor-available basis, and the fee will depend on the number of instructional hours requested and students sharing the instructor. Please contact us to arrange for your tutorial and we’ll quote the fee at that time.

Work Study:  Students may apply for our Work Study option.   In return for acting as Shop Monitor during open shop periods, MSF will reduce the student’s tuition.  Shop monitors must be present in the shop during assigned hours primarily to enhance safety (assigned hours will not conflict with class hours).  Among other responsibilities, Shop Monitors make sure policies are honored and are responsible for the leaving the shop in good order at the end of their shift.  If space is available, Monitors may use the shop to work on their own projects during their shifts.  Our preference is to award work study positions first to students experiencing financial hardship.  Please notify us if you are interested in work study .  For more information, see our Tuitions & Registration page.

Auditing:  MSF has an auditing policy that allows for students who have successfully completed a training level (Basic, Intermediate, Master-Level) to enroll again in the same level in order to deepen their mastery.  Auditing is available on a space available basis for 50% of the standard tuition.  Auditing students do not receive a second Certificate of Accomplishment.  Please note that auditing (for a reduced fee) is not available for individual Project & Skills Workshops that are not also part of the professional training (see Concurrent Classes).

For Professional Training Tuition information, click HERE.  If you are ready to register:

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