This class introduces the art of carpentry as a seamless integration of design and construction, a constant dialogue between creative vision and the pragmatic requirements of any given project. Through hands-on work, we will develop a wide vocabulary of skills with carpentry tools, with a view not just to their obvious applications, but also the less obvious. Construction techniques such as measuring and layout, cutting and shaping, joinery and detailing will be introduced as a continuation of the design process. We will also introduce basic design practices, including drafting and model making, as ways to explore your ideas and their construction. Efficiency and creativity go hand in hand, and so we will learn to make the best use of materials at hand, to turn problems into opportunities, and to revise designs during the building process to take advantage of new insights.  Each student will go home with their own unique project.

Course start time: Saturday, 9am
Course end time: Friday, 5pm

  • Competency Level: Beginner to Intermediate
  • AIA credits: 49 -- Qualifies for HSW requirements.

Course Objectives

This course introduces students to the most essential elements of both design and construction simultaneously, with a view to developing complementary logic and techniques.

In moving back and forth between 2-dimensional drawings and 3-dimensional constructions, we will develop working methods that can be applied to design/build problems at any scale.

Emphasis is on the creative exploration of a design idea as opposed to the precise execution of a predetermined plan. Students will be asked to take risks, make mistakes, and challenge preconceived ideas.

All design/build problems have constraints.  Our main motivating and creativity inspiring constraint is time.  One of the main goals in the class is to have each student complete the project they design-taking one full trip through their design/build process.  Past students have chosen to add additional restraints such as working with a specific material or size of material, cost of materials, and making sure what is built can get home.

Along the way, will be taught some specific skills and techniques. Here's a sampling:

On the design end

  • Program/Idea Development
  • Drafting (measured drawing)
  • Modeling

On the building end

  • Measuring/Marking
  • Layout
  • Accuracy
  • Execution

Tools and Techniques

Emphasis is on common, accessible tools used in carpentry and woodworking.  The goal is to send you off into hte world to continue your explorations, not to make you feel like you need to outfit yourself with a full shop in order to make a window planter.  We will explore the safe, effective and creative use of the following tools (and probably a few more, project dependent):

  • Circular Saw
  • Table Saw
  • Drill/Driver
  • Router
  • Jig Saw
  • Power Miter Saw (chop saw)
  • Basic Hand Tools: hammer, chisel, nail puller, handsaw, etc.

We will also explore the range of materials and fasteners suitable for a wide variety of applications. You should expect to leave this course with plenty of knowledge to get yourself in trouble at the hardware store or lumber yard.

Through evening lectures and discussions, we will study a wide range of design ideas and techniques, in order to expand our design vocabulary and open our minds to new possibilities. Topics may vary depending on student interests and backgrounds.

Suggested Reading

Tao te Ching

IKEA catalog

Materials/Tools to Bring

  • Ideas, drawings, photographs and measurements relevant to your design project. We'll talk about this over the phone well in advance of the class.
  • A notebook/sketchbook. For notes and sketches.
  • Money for materials purchases: each individual will purchase the materials for his/her own design. You may spend as much or as little as you wish. $100 should be more than enough for most projects.
  • Yestermorrow will provide drafting supplies and tools for construction. However, if you have tools that you like, or think you might like better if you knew how to use them properly, feel free to bring them along.
  • Comfortable clothes that don't hang all over the place and can get dirty. Nothing you might wear to a wedding.
  • #2 pencil to bubble in answers on the final exam.

Course Outline

(subject to modification and/or improvisational impulses)

Day 1 AM

  • Intro to drafting and design drawing
  • Design development and consultations

Day 1 PM

  • Presentation of design proposals & group discussion
  • Drafting of individual projects, take-offs for materials
  • Evening lecture/slideshow: Design Ideas and Inspirations

Day 2 AM

  • Intro to cutting tools: safety and practice
  • Trip to lumber yard/hardware store for materials examinations/purchases

Day 2 PM: Design development and reconceptualisation

  • Beginning of construction
  • Debriefing/Discussion of project development

Day 3

  • More tool demonstrations & applications
  • Continuing construction and Design Development

Days 4-6

  • Continuing construction and design development

Day 7

  • Continuing construction and design development
  • Project presentations and discussions
  • Graduation dinner
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