General Sessions

Friday, Aug. 9, 9-10:15am

The Fine Woodworker, a Modern Invention. FWW Senior Editor and Back Cover author Jonathan Binzen will take all attendees on an informative journey through history, exploring how our ancestors worked wood, leading up to the fathers of the modern craft—Nakashima, Esherick, Maloof, and Krenov—and how they paved the way for all of us.

Saturday, Aug. 10, 9-10:15am

Design: Evolution not Revolution. All of the FWW Live presenters will gather on stage to show some of their favorite pieces they have made, and the stops and starts that led to them, proving that design is more often a process than a burst of genius or instant perfection.

Elective Courses

The Handcut Dovetail
Instructor: Chris Becksvoort

The handcut dovetail is the hallmark of fine furniture, and no one does it more efficiently and expertly than Chris Becksvoort, who has been building world-class Shaker furniture for 40 years. Learn his tips for making the process fast and foolproof, from layout to sawing, chisel work, and assembly.

40 Years of Tips and Tricks
Instructor: Chris Becksvoort

One way Christian Becksvoort has kept his one-man shop in business for four decades is by constantly improving, by finding new ways to improve his results while trimming valuable minutes from each process. Here are Becksvoort’s best tips for furniture makers of any level. You’ll get a wide array of secrets, for everything from cutting dovetails, pegging tenons, and turning beautiful knobs, to graduating the sizes of drawers, predicting wood movement precisely, and turning a single photo into a full project plan.

Shaker Details
Instructor: Chris Becksvoort

There is no better person than Christian Becksvoort to teach this class. He has been building, researching, and writing about Shaker furniture for 40 years, and his book, “The Shaker Legacy” is the seminal work on the topic. Becksvoort will reveal the essence of true Shaker in this inspiring seminar, as he examines tables, stands, chairs, desks, clocks, case pieces, and much more. You’ll learn about the Millennial Laws, the only written evidence of the Shakers’ design and construction rules and restrictions. And as a bonus, he will make a molding and a small pull, both true to the style.

Uncommon Arts & Crafts
Instructor: Jon Binzen

Stickley, Craftsman, Mission—these names represent the vast majority of Arts & Crafts pieces made in U.S. factories during the heyday of the movement. But during the same period small shops in America and Europe were drawing on the Arts & Crafts philosophy to make furniture that was much more personal, adventuresome, and distinctive. Jon Binzen, who co-authored the Taunton Press book, “Arts & Crafts Furniture, from Classic to Contemporary,” will introduce you to the furniture and techniques of Charles Rohlfs, John Bradstreet, William Price, and Byrdcliffe in the United States, and C.F. A. Voysey, M.H. Bailie Scott, Ernest Gimson and Josef Hoffmann in Europe.

Six Innovative Chairs
Instructor: Jon Binzen

Great chair designs come about in wildly different ways. Some, like the classic Chinese horseshoe arm chair, result from centuries of slow stylistic and technical evolution. Others, like Samuel Gragg’s Elastic Chair, seem to have arrived in a burst of inspiration. This class looks closely at six superb chairs—designed between 1600 and the present—exploring their aesthetics, joinery, structure, materials, and the conditions in which they were made.

Bent Lamination Made Easy
Instructor: Michael Fortune

Curves are one of the best ways to make your furniture stand out, and Michael Fortune is the master. One of his favorite techniques is bent lamination, which involves slicing wood into thin plies, which then get glued in a stack as they are bent around a form. Fortune makes it easy with a series of clever jigs for planing the plies, gluing them together, and even cutting joints on the curved pieces. He’ll show you how to taper the plies, too, for even more graceful curves.

Refine Your Designs
Instructor: Michael Fortune

Design is a mystery to most woodworkers. What they lack is a simple process for brainstorming new ideas, trying out variations quickly, and then using simple mockups to work out the final proportions and details. Fortune first learned this design process in industrial design school, but has refined it over 30-plus years as a studio furniture maker. Now he will share it with you.

Unleash Your Bandsaw
Instructor: Michael Fortune

Woodworkers resort to extreme measures to combat blade drift and get better cuts, from super-high tension, to exotic blade guides and single-point resaw fences. None of that is necessary if you start with the right type of blade and know a few key things about setup. Plus, Fortune will share his ingenious pressure technique that will have you following lines perfectly, both straight and curved. Stop by, and change the way you use your bandsaw.

Color Wood with No Worries
Instructor: Peter Gedrys

As a fine woodworker, you choose your lumber very carefully for grain and color. But even the best boards need help sometimes. Whether you are going for that Mission oak look, trying to “pop” the curl in maple, or want to bring out mahogany’s full, rich glow, Peter Gedrys will show you how to use dyes, stains, and glazes with no worries, with tips for dialing in a precise hue and preventing blotching.

Shellac, the Finisher’s Best Friend
Instructor: Peter Gedrys

This versatile coating can be employed in myriad ways. It can control blotching in soft woods, warm up cool-toned woods, and provide a natural fire like no other. Gedrys will cover off-the-shelf shellac as well as making your own from flakes. He'll also provide easy instruction on brushing and padding this time-honored finish.

How to Fix Finishing Mistakes
Instructor: Peter Gedrys

No matter how careful you are, you’ll eventually find yourself facing a mistake, large or small. It may be some telltale glue left behind, or drips or runs, or an edge with the color sanded through. This invaluable seminar will lay out a basic road map for repairs, and more importantly tell you how to prevent problems before they start.

7 Techniques for Beautiful Boxes
Instructor: Matt Kenney

It’s deceptively difficult to make a pretty box. But there are seven things you can do to improve your chances. In this practical guide to box-making, you’ll learn about design (less is more), how to get a perfect four-sided match and make strong, accurate miter joints, plus a recipe for a beautiful finish that goes on in less than 30 minutes. Kenney will cover a few other joinery methods, too.

Shopmade Hand Tools: When to Make Your Own
Instructor: Matt Kenney

As a woodworker, it is nice to have a hand tool that does just one thing really well, like a small grooving plane for drawers. You can also make tools that are hard to find, like a marking gauge that slices a line instead of scratching it. And last, it’s just plain fun to use tools you’ve made with your own hands, like a handplane in the Krenov style. Kenney will share what he’s learned about making tools, from design and wood selection to how to make your own blades and cutters.

Using Shopsawn Veneer
Instructor: Matt Kenney

There are many benefits to using thick, shopsawn veneers. This technique lets you stretch a beautiful board over a large surface. And thicker veneers are easier to use than the thin commercial stuff. But the process is different. You’ve got to know how to resaw these thin slices, how to surface them without a drum sander (most of us don’t have one), how to join pieces, and how to glue them down. Take your furniture to the next level with this helpful class.

Classic Furniture Construction: How to Make a Piece Last 200 Years
Instructor: Steve Latta

Proper case construction takes into account wood’s need to move and react with its environment. Using real tables, cases, chairs and more, Steve Latta will explore the anatomies that work, those that don’t, and why. He’ll also explore the fundamental joints that stand the test of time. This class is a must for furniture builders of all stripes.

Traditional Inlay
Instructor: Steve Latta

Steve Latta is a master of Federal details, and is always rethinking and improving the process. In this comprehensive class, he’ll use a classic furniture leg to demonstrate his jigs and techniques for elegant stringing, banding, and inlays of all kinds, like ovals and bellflowers. Even if you’ve tried these things before, you’ll take away invaluable tips and tricks.

Contemporary Inlay
Instructor: Steve Latta

Using router templates and other tricks, Latta has transformed rural Pennsylvania inlay into an efficient system for creative stringing, from stylized tree branches and birds to geometric flower patterns. He’ll also demonstrate his techniques for decorative borders. Latta makes this stuff fun and easy. You won’t be able to wait to get home and use what you’ve learned.

Hone Your Hand-Tool Skills
Instructor: Mike Pekovich

It’s no secret that hand tools are essential to fine work, but not everyone realizes that they require regular practice. In this seminar Mike Pekovich will take you through a short series of skill-building exercises guaranteed to boost your competence, confidence, and muscle-memory with the essential tools: chisel, block plane, backsaw, and handplane. These drills are also great as quick warm-ups when you've spent too much time away from the shop. Best of all is what Pekovich will teach along the way: a better understanding of the geometry and physics that make each tool work.

Arts & Crafts Details
Instructor: Mike Pekovich

The Arts and Crafts style is known for its simple, straightforward designs, but simple can be tough to get right. Without ornate carvings or fancy veneers to hide behind, every detail and proportion counts. Mike Pekovich’s tips will ensure that your next project will come out great. He'll cover everything from selecting lumber to proportioning parts to finishing, along with choosing the right hardware. In addition he'll discuss the subtle curves that enliven the style and the secret behind getting them right. Last, he’ll show you a few tricks for the signature Arts and Crafts joint, the through-tenon.

Master the Smoothing Plane
Instructor: Mike Pekovich

So you've invested in a good smoothing plane but you're still not getting the results you'd hoped for. To get feathery shavings and zero tearout, you need to dial in the performance of your plane. Getting sharp is critical of course, but there’s more to it than that. In this seminar you'll get a foolproof method for honing, with emphasis on cambering your blade so it doesn’t leave tracks. In addition, you'll learn how a back-bevel can help you tackle tough grain. From there, Pekovich will fine-tune the setup of the plane and put it to use. For glass-smooth surfaces, sign up for this class.

Building Furniture from Reclaimed Wood
Instructor: John Tetreault

John Tetreault has been making one-of-a-kind furniture from inexpensive salvaged wood for many years. Whether you want to plane it down and use it like normal lumber, or leave its surfaces untouched and its full history on display, Tetreault will guide you through the steps. From finding reclaimed wood to avoiding bugs and nails, he’ll get you past the obstacles, and then he’ll reveal safe, accurate ways to surface, join, and finish this soulful material.

Fitting a Drawer
Instructor: Philip Lowe

It's rare that a drawer pocket comes out perfectly square, but that doesn’t have to stop you from getting the piston fit that distinguishes a fine drawer. Phil Lowe has been making period furniture for four decades, teaching hundreds of students along the way, and his seminar will give you the know-how to fit a drawer into any opening, from perfect to wonky. The process starts with the individual parts, and then continues after assembly, and none of the steps are difficult.

Master the Cabriole Leg
Instructor: Philip Lowe

The cabriole was one of the first forms in 18th-century furniture that took on the S-shaped cyma curve, making these legs one of the most graceful forms of the period. Lowe has the process down to a science. He’ll show you how to lay out the leg and turn the foot in a matter of minutes. Then it is on to the bandsaw and spokeshave, where you make the even facets that guide the rest of the process. You will be amazed at how fast the leg takes shape.

Installing a Lockset
Instructor: Philip Lowe

A half-mortise lock is a beautiful touch in fine doors and drawers. Getting the keyhole in the right position is what it’s all about. Join Phil in unlocking the secrets. This seminar will key you into the proper terminology that manufacturers use in describing their hardware, as well as the proper order for marking out and chiseling material away for a perfect fit.


Suggested Tracks

We’ll remind you about these again when you choose electives.

Design: Refine Your Designs, 6 Innovative Chairs, Classic Furniture Construction, Shaker Details, Uncommon Arts & Crafts, Arts & Crafts Details

Hone Your Hand Tool Skills, Unleash Your Bandsaw, Master the Smoothing Plane, The Handcut Dovetail, Fitting Drawers, Shellac, How to Fix Finishing Mistakes

Master Class:
Bent Lamination Made Easy, Traditional Inlay, Contemporary Inlay, Color Wood with No Worries, Refine Your Designs, Using Shopsawn Veneer

Hand Tools:
The Handcut Dovetail, Hone Your Hand-Tool Skills, Shopmade Hand Tools, Master the Smoothing Plane, Traditional Inlay, Cabriole Leg

Period Furniture:
Classic Furniture Construction, Traditional Inlay, Master the Cabriole Leg, Fitting Drawers, Installing a Lockset