Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Advanced Joinery

Another week has come and gone at the Lohr School of Woodworking and another graduating class has earned new tables and certificates!

Last week was one of the two advanced course sessions that we offer at the shop each year. The advanced course is amazing in more ways than one and is open to Practical Woodworking alumni. This course definitely takes things up a notch or five.

Quickly, the stacks of milled walnut and cherry pieces that Rob and I worked on two weeks ago morphed into a room of stunning accessory tables complete with dovetails, breadboard ends, floating shelf, and drawer.

As I did the Practical Wood class, I doubled as a student and apprentice for this course. While being on call to lend a helping hand in any way I could, I also got the chance to watch all the lessons, learn all the new techniques, and construct a table of my own!

The course is filled with lots of hand detail, new machinery (as compared to the Practical Woodworking course), and, of course, jigs!

Jeff, Rob, and Eoin conduct the usual riveting and informative demos each day so that students can see the processes carried out correctly and safely before they try their own hand at it. The demos include (but are surely not limited to) handmade dovetails, machine-made dovetails, how to make and use buttons, Greene & Greene style breadboard ends, cloud lift making, drawer construction, and shelf construction. Naturally, we used the knowledge acquired from the Practical Woodworking course to create mortise/tenon joints, biscuit joints, sand properly, assemble and glue up, rip, joint, and plane.

I could really appreciate this class because although it was an ongoing challenge for six days, it was incredibly rewarding to see the progress unfold before your eyes. The finer details that make Lohr and Spiece furniture so unique and beautiful are taught to you by the masters themselves. Because so much of this course is hand detail and another dose of days worth of new information, I'd say it's quite a bonding course. It's easy to sit and chat/encourage/share with your classmates as you sit and perfect your buttons so the environment is calm and inviting.

At the close of the course, there is a short finishing demo. I was fortunate enough to be able to use my table as the means to exhibit how boiled linseed oil makes natural grain colors and patterns pop instantly. I was the fortunate one merely because I didn't have to toss my table into a car and drive it back to a distant part of the area/state/country. Regardless, working at this shop, I have seen my fair share of grain pop from boiled linseed oil but there is nothing quite as satisfying as watching cherry grain jump out of your carefully-crafted breadboard end table top.

I hope that my fellow May 2013 Advanced Joinery graduates will send along some photos of their oiled/finished tables so I can share them. Moreso, I hope they find the satisfaction and gratitude I did in the final stages of the project's completion.

The end result of the course looks like this (pictured above). The carcass of the table is made of walnut. Buried in it's inner workings you would find two hand-cut dovetails, several fitted mortise/tenon joints, drawer runners and spacers, and skirt boards with a cloud lift detail. The floating shelf, table top, and drawer face are made of cherry. The tabletop was constructed using the Greene & Greene style breadboard ends and button detail along the outer edges. The drawer is joined with router-cut dovetails as a result of a thorough lesson on how to adjust and properly use a (often incredibly infuriating) dovetail jig. We finished up with making walnut drawer pulls and buttons.

With my parting words for today, I want to thank the Advanced Joinery class of May 2013 for being positive, eager, and helpful. I will also thank my ever-impressive colleagues for being such wonderful instructors dealing with our varying paces and learning styles.

I am more than pleased to have stepped into a deeper level of woodworking knowledge. I am thankful to be constantly surrounded by masters, teachers, students, and creative, driven minds.

Look out for a Zelli Bar post in the next day or two; the progress continues on the classiest drink-slinging apparatus you'll set your eyes on!


  1. The advanced course was an awesome experience. Thanks to all of you at JD Lohr Woodworking!

  2. We're so glad you enjoyed it! We're always excited to hear from happy alumni!

  3. Very bummed out I didn't get to attend the October class. Hopefully next year. Chuck