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Woodworking short course sparks joy for students!

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Woodworking 101 short course is one of those fantastic skill building courses that can be useful for not only career paths but also for hobbyists.

It is run over 13 weeks and its aim is to increase a student’s confidence in undertaking timber projects while ensuring that all safety procedures are followed.

The most recent course just completed on 27 June, with students creating a hall table out of native Jarrah an Australian solid timber. They all now have this beautiful hand-crafted solid timber piece to add to their homes or give as a gift or even to sell if they wanted to.

Throughout this project the students learned to safety use a range of tools relevant for woodworking projects including drop saws, hand planes, routers, drill press’s and biscuit machines. The course also focused on teaching transferrable construction skills such as gluing, taking precise measurements and coordination and planning techniques.

“Everyone is coming away from this course having learnt some new skills and have enjoyed themselves. It suits everyone from the home DIY-er to someone looking to gain their first timber skills.”  Jesse Van Egmond, Wodonga TAFE’s Cabinet Making Teacher explains.

Two of the recent graduates of this short course, Pat Macnamara and Robyn Hibberson, sat down with us and told us a bit about their experience and how they found the course to help them

How did you find out about this course?

PAT: I was interested in doing a short course for woodworking to develop my skills for doings bits and pieces around the home. I did a quick Google search and the course came up.

ROBYN: I’d been considering doing a course once I’d realised I wasn’t a fan of my current work on the letterbox at home, and I wanted to develop my skills. The course popped up in my Facebook feed one day, then I looked further into it on the website and enrolled.

Did you have much experience working with timber before starting the course?

PAT: I didn’t have a lot of experience working with timber before this course. I’ve worked with some timber on general jobs at home. Like making things for grandkids using pine and plywoods, but never grain timber.

ROBYN: I had a little bit of experience before I started. Just mucking around in the shed and I’ve always been interested in working with timber. I wanted to build on that, so here I am.

What are some of the main skills you’ve obtained during the course?

PAT: The skills I’ve learned are – recognising the grain in timber and how to work with it. Maintenance with the tools we’re using, such as planes – I learned how to use it, sharpen it and take care of it. We used chisels which helped in making joints, like dove-tail joints, which we’ve used for our drawers.

We learnt to use a plane, I’ve never used them before. My dad had them when I was younger, but we weren’t allowed to touch them! I also learned how to use a belt sander. Cam taught me the correct procedure to use them, taking into account the grain of the timber. I didn’t know you could sand against the grain, so that was a new skill for me.

ROBYN: Some of the skills I’ve obtained – is actually how to join timber correctly. So that it’ll last and be strong. I was winging it before, I had a project at home with a letterbox, I got to the stage where I wasn’t happy with it. I saw this course come up on Facebook, so I thought I’d come and learn how to do things properly – and do a lot more than what I could before.

Has this course given you more confidence to build something in the future? What will your next project be?

PAT: I have my next project in mind – I’m making myself a nice workbench. I’m a lot more confident in building something that’s not just pine or plywood. I’m happy to look at the more expensive grain timber without fear of ruining it or wasting money.

We’ve also learned about planning the job correctly, which is half the secret to success in timber work. Wodonga TAFE provided the drawing and plan for the job, but we had to work out the measurements and learn how to read the plan properly.

ROBYN: I’ve got a lot more confidence to do something and know how to do it properly. I have a workbench at home that I’m going to build upon and add drawers underneath.

What would you say to someone considering doing Woodworking 101?

PAT: If someone’s thinking about doing this course, I’d definitely recommend it – it’s been great. I’m going to walk away a lot more confident working with timber than I was 10 weeks ago.

ROBYN: This course is really handy if you wanted to learn the basics of woodworking. It could be a hobby in furniture making or you could build on it later on with cabinet or furniture making – like if you wanted a career from it too. I’m a bit past taking up an apprenticeship! I’m retired and looking after grandchildren. I’ve learned a lot and really enjoyed the course.

When I first came here in week 1, the teachers showed us what we were going to make in the 10 weeks. I saw it and thought “there’s no way I’m going to be able to make that”. Really, it was a bit daunting. With Cam’s help and having obtained some new skills, we’ve managed to get it finished and I’m happy with how it’s all turned out. It’ll turn out really nice once lacquered and sitting in my hallway.

The next intake for Woodworking 101 begins on July 18 and enrolments are open now! If you would like to learn the fundamentals of timber processing skills do not hesitate to enrol yourself into this short course. Visit our website for more course information at or call our enrolments team on 1300 698 233.

Check out a quick snippet of the class at work, finalising their hallway/entry tables:


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