Progress in the Furniture Intensive

Written by Heide Martin on .

Our Furniture Intensive students are beginning the sixth week of their twelve-week program, and their second project is already well underway. Here in mid-coast Maine the weather is (slowly!) changing from winter to spring, and the longer daylight hours seem to mean longer hours in the shop for this dedicated group.

For the first two weeks the students got to know their hand tools very well through the creation of a small bench or tool caddy that included hand-cut joinery. From instruction on proper chisel sharpening technique to tips and tricks for paring the perfect dovetail, this project gave students a strong foundation in the basics. There was a lot of focused chiseling at the work benches!

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A hardwood paring block made by student Jeffery Mazur to efficiently clean up his mitered dovetail joinery.

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At nearly halfway through their course, the students are really settling into their new “home” in Maine. Lights are burning in the workshop at all hours of the day, but students are also making time to take advantage of all that coastal Maine has to offer. Here, student Bob Percy has made a quick bench shelf to keep his collection of planes close at hand.

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A few students have been making regular trips to our local antique tool barns. Here, a nice set of planes picked up by student Michael Berg, including a hard-to-find compass plane.

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After the introductory project with co-instructor Mark Juliana, students move quickly into designing their second project: a casepiece that features a door and a drawer and frame-and-panel construction. Together with co-instructor Aaron Fedarko, head instructor Brian Reid leads students through an extensive design process that includes sketches, study models, and full-scale measured drawings.

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These design materials not only help students work through their ideas in the early stage of the design process, but can act as helpful touchstones as they develop and refine their work.

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While their first project focused on the proper use of hand tools, with the second project students are given in-depth training in shop machinery. Here instructor Aaron Fedarko demonstrates a variety of router-cut joinery techniques.

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Throughout the designing and building of their projects, students receive steady one-on-one assistance from the team of instructors, as well as regular lectures and demonstrations. Here, student Russ Valentine receives tips on his dovetails from assistant Ted Newman, and students gather for group lectures.

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