Nine-month Comprehensive

September 12, 2016 – June 2, 2017


cabinets-benchroomStudents at work on their tool cabinets in the Satterlee bench room

The Nine-month Comprehensive is designed for aspiring professional furniture makers and dedicated amateurs who seek in-depth training at the highest standard of excellence. The hands-on, project-oriented format includes the full range of furniture making skills. Sequential projects take students from the fundamentals through the fine points of design and craftsmanship.

The projects and topics include:

    1. Our Basic Woodworking curriculum, which introduces the full furniture making process from drafting to finishing, and gives students a solid foundation in hand joinery skills and safe use of machines for stock preparation. (3 weeks)

    2. Machine Joinery, which explores the use of power tools in the construction process. Each student builds a tool cabinet that involves a myriad of machine cut joints and shaping techniques using the table saw, router, router table, slot mortiser, shaper, and other equipment. (3 weeks)

    3. Drawing for Design, in which students improve their abilities to sketch, develop designs, and create rendered perspective drawings with both pencil on paper and CAD. (1 week)

    4. Casepiece Construction, in which each student designs and builds a casepiece with a door and a drawer, employing both hand and machine skills. Work is done primarily in solid wood, while shop sawn veneer and man-made substrates are also introduced. (6 weeks)

    5. Hand-applied Finishes, which covers grain filling, coloring, and working with varnish, shellac, and oil. (1 week)


    6. Veneering & Marquetry, which introduces the use of veneer for casework and decorative applications. (1 week)

    7. Turning, where students learn spindle work for making furniture components and faceplate turning for making ornaments, bowls, and platters. (1 week)

    8. CNC, which introduces CNC milling technology to the furniture making process and engages students in programming and operation. (1 week)

    9. Bending, in which students explore steam and laminate bending, as well as other curve-forming techniques. Each student designs and builds a table with curved components suitable for production at a competitive price point. (5 weeks)

    10. Carving, where students learn traditional relief carving and other techniques applicable to furniture and architectural ornament. (1 week)

    11. Product Development, for which the assignment is to design, make, and sell a multiple object within a set price range. This emphasizes real-world concerns such as speed, efficiency, and marketing. (4 weeks)

    12. Spray Finishing, in which students build upon the earlier finishing class to learn professional techniques for applying spray lacquers. (1 week)

    13. Chair Making, in which each student pursues an extensive design process to create a prototype chair. (7 weeks)



Additional time is set aside to address Professional Practices through:

 - field trips to professional furniture makers around the state to learn about marketing, pricing, and other aspects of their businesses;

 - Product Development, which focuses on efficient production and marketable design;

 - business talks with visiting instructors and Messler Gallery exhibitors



Comprehensive participants gain exhibition experience with a five-week show in our Messler Gallery, starting in mid-April. This is a good opportunity to learn professional exhibition practice firsthand. To see work from previous student shows, please visit:

Class of 2014-2015 Messler Gallery exhibition

Class of 2013-2014 Messler Gallery exhibition

Class of 2012-2013 Messler Gallery exhibition

Class of 2011-2012 Messler Gallery exhibition

Class of 2010-2011 Messler Gallery exhibition

Class of 2009-2010 Messler Gallery exhibition

Class of 2008-2009 Messler Gallery exhibition



We teach furniture making for the joy, growth, and satisfaction it brings, whether you are pursuing it professionally or as an avocation. We expect students to graduate with the confidence and skill to design and build fine furniture on their own, and to be qualified for employment by other fine furniture makers.

The audience for the Nine-month Comprehensive includes: (1) college-age people who want to become professional furniture makers; (2) people of any age who are exploring woodworking as a potentially more fulfilling, second career; and (3) individuals of all ages who want to learn furniture making as a life-enhancing skill.

Many of our students come with the dream of self-employment as fine furniture makers in one-person shops. In all fairness we advise applicants that, while the rewards of such a career are many, it is a challenging way to make a living.



Graduate Careers

Graduates of the Nine-month Comprehensive are pursuing careers in furniture making, cabinetry, millwork, boatbuilding, and other aspects of fine woodworking. To see a listing of alumni, including professions and websites, click here.



Lead Instructor Aled LewisThe Lead Instructor for the course is Aled Lewis. You can see Fine Woodworking's video about Aled here. For each project, Aled is joined by a co-teacher who specializes in the relevant skills. The following list is subject to change. Most of the instructors have websites which you can visit for more extensive views of their work. See the list of instructors here.









Application Process  

The only prerequisite is that applicants have enough prior woodworking experience to be sure that they can sustain their commitment to a nine-month course.

To apply please submit the following:

      1. A letter explaining your interest in furniture making and your goals

      2. Up to eight digital images of any woodworking or other artwork you have done previously

      3. Names and telephone numbers of three character references such as teachers, employers, and business associates

      4. Your resume

For priority consideration, applications should be e-mailed by March 1, 2016 to Notification will be sent by March 15. After March 1, applications will be reviewed for acceptance as space permits.

Open to all except absolute beginners.
Enrollment limited to 12.

Tuition: $19,950

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