George Berry's

School of Woodworking and Furniture Design

Please help me teach the world woodworking and furniture design for free on the web. 3-D printers and robots could mean the end of craftsmanship!

I have been a self-employed designer/craftsman for 47 years. I started working in 1968 when there were very few books on the subject and no films. Now technology has advanced to the point that one person truly could teach the world. I intend to do this by posting a 15-20 minute woodworking lesson once a week for a year. That's 52 lessons starting with the very basics and ending with the very advanced. You may see examples of my work by visiting my website Home Page at

Curriculum, Copyright 2015:

1.  BECOMING THE TOOL:  The Zen of it all.  When your spirit joins the spirit of The Tool, “you are what you make”. What are the annual rings in a tree?  The difference between hardwoods and softwoods; movement and moisture content.  The life cycle of a tree.
2.  BECOMING THE WOOD:  How a tree grows and is harvested.  Heartwood and Sapwood; how the sap gets to the top of the tree.  How boards are cut from a tree.  Learning the jargon of cutting a  board.  Why grain direction is important.
3. THE NATURE OF WOOD:  Measuring the movement of wood; which woods are more stable.  The rule of thumb for drying wood; air drying versus kiln drying.  The ways a board can warp. Processing lumber:  rough cut boards, dressing a board, buying lumber and using solar kilns.
4. DOMESTIC HARDWOODS: Walnut, cherry, maple, red oak, white oak, ash and birch.  Open pore and closed pore woods.
5. EXOTIC HARDWOODS:  The definition. Characteristics of some exotic hardwoods: Mahagony, Australian Lacewood, bloodwood, wood allegers, tone woods, purple heart, ebony, Brazilian rosewood, liptus and ply boo.
6. SOFT WOODS:  Characteristics and Uses.  All about soft woods; where do they grow, how quickly and what are they used for.  How to identify various soft woods.
7. VENEERS:  Why they are used.  Identifying various species of wood veneer:  Tamo, Bird’s eye maple, Olive ash, Ceylonese satinwood, Poon, African Rosewood, English brown oak, French Walnut, East Indian Rosewood, Bubinga, African Tulipwood, Honduras Mahogany, King Wood, Canadian aromatic cedar, Macassar Ebony and various wood burls.
8. FIGURED WOOD:  Various colors and patterns.  Names of various figures.  What causes figured wood?  How to get figured wood species. Methods of working with figured woods.
9. MANMADE  BOARDS:  The good and bad traits of new engineered wood boards and sheet goods.  Introduction to modern wood products:  Masonite, Particle board, plywood melamine board, MCP, MDF, OSB and MDO.  What is Formica (high pressure plastic laminate)?  Techniques for bending plywood.
10. HARVESTING YOUR OWN LUMBER:  Methods and Reasons.  Recognizing the internal structure of wood.  Introduction to machinery for harvesting lumber: Alaskan jigs, Chainsaw Mills and Portable bandsaw mills.  Drying the lumber using airdrying and solar kilns.  How to measure the moisture content of lumber.
11. HAND TOOLS, PART I:  Designing your own tool box by getting acquainted with basic hand tools; how they are used and what their functions are.  Hand tools described and demonstrated include hand screws, quick clamps, layout tools, tri-square, combination square, T-square, bevel squares, folding rule, steel measuring tapes, saws, levels, trammel points, gents saw, hammer, marking gauge, channel locks, vicegrips, 4 in 1 screwdriver and wood chisels.
12. HAND TOOLS, PART 2:  Why you can’t “become the wood” with power tools.  How hand tools can be faster than power tools.  Designing your own toolbox.  Examples will be discussed of how hand tools can outperform power tools.
13. SHARPENING TOOLS:  Why dull tools make woodworking impossible.  Sharpening techniues include; determining the angle for grinding a chisel, hooking a burr on a chisel, using scraper blades and sharpening scissors. Tools need to look sharp, stay sharp and be sharp.
14. HAND-HELD POWER TOOLS:  Getting familiar with the basics of using and maintaining common hand-held power  tools.  These include; electric drills, sabre saw, skill saw, Sawzall, routers, belt sanders, disc sander and vibrating sander.  Changing bits, blades and sandpaper will be demon-strated.  The care and maintenance of the user’s hands will be emphasized.
15. AIR TOOLS:  The pros and cons of air-powered tools.  An introduction and demonstration of using air-powered tools will include the nailgun, bradgun, random orbital sanders and the butterfly sander.
16. SAFETY IN THE WOODSHOP:  All the precautions I have used to keep from hurting myself and my work.
17. YOUR MOST VALUABLE TOOLS:  Taking care of your hands. Know woodshop first-aid.  What to do if you cut off a finger.
18. ADHESIVES FOR WOODWORKING:  Learning the kinds of glues, their characteristics, how to apply them and when not to use them.  Adhesives discussed:  yellow, white and brown glues; epoxy, phenolic resin, hyde glue and Gorilla glue.
19. TIPS FOR USING THE ROUTER:  Which router do you need?  Which router bits should you own?
20. WOOD MOLDINGS:  Learning to recognize their names, their uses and their installation methods.  What are specific moldings called by carpenters and cabinetmakers?  What is the nomenclature of the parts and specific curves of moldings?  How to install crown moldings and bracket feet will be explained.  Coping saw techniques for molding installation will be demon-strated.
21. WHERE DO I PUT THE TABLE SAW?  Determining the layout of a small woodworking shop.  Placement of specific machine tools for efficiency and safety will be emphasized.
22. INSTALLING AND REPLACING BLADES AND OTHER WORKING PARTS:  Eventually, parts that cut and process wood have to be changed.  How to install, remove and replace table saw blades,  molding heads, sanding discs, throat plates and feather boards.
23. IMPROVING TABLE SAW ACCURACY:   How to make a sliding table for cutting true 90 degree crosscuts and true 45 degree miters.
24. TABLE SAW TECHNIQUES EXPANDED:  Some unusual uses for the leading woodshop machine.  Among these will be; how to cut a circle on a table saw, shaping molding and feather boards.  Also included are ways to stop tear out, make sliding table jigs and cut true 45 degree miters every time.
25. BETTER CUTTING WITH A CHOP SAW:  How to cut crown molding after accurately determining compound miters.

26. MAKING HOLES, WOODEN FILLERS AND SMOOTH SURFACES:  Techniques for using the drill press, twist drills, spade bits, wing cutters and hole saws.  How to produce dowels with a dowel maker; make wood plugs with a plug cutter, explanation of special methods for using the drum sanders, wire brushes and buffing wheels.
27. THE BANDSAW:  Cutting curves and complex shapes.
28. MASTERING THE PLANER:  The problems you can run into making thick boards into thin boards. What to do when a board is too short to go through the planer.
29. JOINER:  How to shoot straight and slightly curved edges.  Reasons for using small and big joiners.
30. SPECIAL USES OF BELT AND DISC SANDERS:  Changing belts and discs, grinding wood chisels and making a wood ball.
31. WORKING WITH THE OSCILLATING SPINDLE SANDER:  Sanding curves with the flap sander and balloon sanders.
32. HOLDING THINGS TOGETHER:  Clamping.  How to squeeze the most out of your clamps.  What woodworkers did before steel clamps.
33. MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE:  Making everything tight.  Identifying the old-timers’ trick for achieving tight tolerance without measuring.  Identifying compound and complementary errors. Quick method of building a box by setting the table saw three times.   Making and fitting drawers.
34. USING SPECIAL AIDS:  Jigs and fixtures   in the woodshop.
35. FINISHING WOOD:   Choosing the appropriate finish; pros and cons of oil or surface finishes; shellac, varnish, oil, lacquer and enamel. Different methods of application:  brush, spray, roller, pad and rag.
36. THE STRENGTH  IN THE STRUCTURE:  Woodworking joints – where to use them and what makes them strong.  Building a kitchen with only three joints.
37. EXPLORING WAYS TO MAKE CONNECTIONS:  Advanced woodworking joints and dowelling jigs.
38. THE PROUD AND VALUED SKILL:  Hand-cut dovetail joints- How to lay out and cut dovetail joints, decorative and secret dovetails; other box corner joints by hand.
39. STRONG, PREDICTABLE RESULTS:  Machine cut dovetail joints using a router or drill press.
40. DESIGN 101: Don’t just copy.  Make it better. Don’t ignore standard dimensions for furniture .  They are based on human scale.
41. THE CREATION SCHEDULE:  The various steps that all craftsmen take from conception to completion.  In short, how to make an idea become a reality.
42. PRE-TESTING A DESIGN CONCEPT:  Using lay out and full scale drawing techniques to augment your design process before actual construction.
43. SOURCES OF INSPIRATION: – Allowing concepts to grow - How to turn inertia into momentum.
44. STACKING:  Solid forms, Open areas - the sculptural approach to furniture, creating smooth flowing lines by placing differently shaped pieces on top of one another and then carving into the outer surface.
45. LATHE WORK:  Carving by Spinning - turning between centers, off-set turning, cutting and scraping techniques.
46.  ADVANCED LATHE WORK:  Subtracting wood to leave a concave shape - Decorative lathe techniques for making a bowl.
47. CARVING:  Releasing the Captured Form  - How to use and sharpen carving tools. How to carve acanthus leaves, egg-and-dart molding, and   ball-and-claw feet.  Commercial carving companies where you can order standard carvings to incorporate in your woodworking design.   
48. LAYING VENEER:  How to match veneer.  Explaining veneer layouts such as; bookmatch, book and butt and diamond match.  How to make your own veneer press and vacuum press.  Ways to make and inlay borders.
49. VACUUM FORMING:  Remove the Air - Using a vacuum to clamp laminations and veneers.
50. RE-SAWED  LAMINATIONS:  Laminate, then saw.  Making molds and re-sawing on the band saw.  Creating curves and smooth bends with wood.  Tricks for making molds and techniques for clamping,  free bending without a mold.
51. KERF BENDING:  Parallel saw cuts -  How to bend plywood and boards.  Creating radius corners in plywood furniture.
52. STEAM BENDING:  Bending Wood with heat and water - Making a steam generator, steam box, bending strap, mold and drying jig.


53. PLASTIC IMPREGNATING WOOD:  Increasing Durability
54. STILES, RAILS AND PANEL:  Centuries Old Construction Technique ---  Raised panel doors.  The history of raised panel doors and how to make them on a table saw.
55. METAL   CABINET  HARDWARE: Metal for mobility and functional durability. Hinges, knobs, pulls, locks, shelf supports, and grommets.
56. FURNITURE FITTINGS:  Function, durability and style.
57. MAKE IT EASY FOR THE CONSUMER:  KD and RTA Furniture – How to work with Knock Down and Ready to Assemble Furniture Components and Hardware.
58. ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS FOR VISUAL AND AUDIBLE IMPACT:  Electrical work in furniture and cabinets, fluorescent, LED lights, switches and turntables.
59. REFINISHING FURNITURE: A facelift for tired heirlooms -   How to strip with water and solvent based products, tricks for making minor repairs to veneer and replacing wooden parts.  How to repair a broken corner.
60. THE IMPOSSIBLE DOVE TAIL SPLICE:  The secret revealed.  All the steps along the way.
61. SPECIAL MATERIALS FOR DURABLE SURFACES: Working with Formica (plastic laminate) and solid surface material.  How they are made and how to use them.
62. POURED CONCRETE COUNTERTOPS:  What’s new in the world of furniture tops.
63. WORKING WITH FIBERGLASS:  How to use fiberglass to reinforce joints or stabilize kerf bends.  How it is used on boats.  Some useful boat building techniques for woodworkers.
64. ACRYLIC MATERIALS:  Working with Plexiglas.  Cutting and polishing different types of Plexiglas; using cohesive glue.
65. PICTURE FRAMING: The Finishing Touch for Art -   Making your own molding.  Cutting true 45 degree miters, cutting glass and making shadow boxes.  Frames with more than 4 sides. Museum - quality mounting techniques.  Ways to hang pictures.
66. STONE AND GLASS TOPS:  Luxurious Materials -  All about glass and stone tops, including limestone, travertine, marble and granite.  How to cut and polish marble with woodworking tools.  Mounting semi-precious stones in decorative hardware.

67. THE PLANE TRUTH:  Hand planes.  The history of planes.  All about sharpening and truing block, jack, scrub, jointer and smoothing planes, compass planes, molding planes, bead scrapers and cabinet scrapers.
68. CARING FOR YOUR MACHINES:  Scheduled maintenance pays off.   How to keep them running for a lifetime and beyond.
69. LAW FOR THE CRAFTSMAN:  What does it take to be a legal business?  What kind of insurance should you have? Keeping your own books.  What makes a good contract?  Mechanic’s liens and what to do if you are not paid. How to handle Customer Complaints.   Minimizing your tax burden.  When to incorporate.
70. RESTORING AUTHENTIC TREASURES:  Caring for antique finishes; Touching up and repairing scratches, cigarette burns, nicks and gouges.
71. BLACKSMITHING IN THE WOOD SHOP:  The different kinds of ferrous metals used in making tools and furniture.  Cast iron, low carbon steel, tool  steel, stainless steel, carbide, titanium and tempering your own tools.  
72. WOOD DUST:   Dust handling equipment for the woodworker.  Collectors, masks, and respirators.  How to prevent explosive mixtures.  Dust allergies and how to prevent or cure them.
73. TURNING CRAFT TO INCOME:  how to sell your work.  Taking good photographs.  Where to advertise.  Joining craft organizations.  List of craft fairs and shows.
74. CRAFTING GIFTS AS UNIQUE GOODWILL:  making presents – Gift ideas, short cuts, tricks, techniques for making small gifts (production items to sell or give away) as Christmas, Birthday  or Anniversary gifts.   Making a lot at one time.  An old trick for making a chessboard.  Making a wooden ball without a lathe. An almost effortless way to sand a lot of small pieces at once.
75. GRAPHICS FOR DESIGN AND PRESENTATIONS:  Computer drafting and rendering programs for woodworkers.  AutoCAD, AutoCAD Light, Turbo CAD, Mini CAD, 20-20 and Cabinet Visions.
76. THE BENEFITS OF FINANCIAL PLANNING:  Financial management- Tax planning, retirement strategies for the self-employed craftsman.  Chapter S corporations, IRAs, 401-K’s, SEPP, Simple, ways to avoid probate.  How to leave it all to the kids.