Course CodeBSS100
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Learn to be Competent in Woodwork

This course is a very solid introduction to carpentry techniques. It provides an understanding of most aspects of carpentry that are important for developing practical skills as a handyman, landscaper, property manager, farmer or other such roles.

Find out about different types of timber, carpentry tools, cutting, making joints, and finishing. Undertake several woodwork projects, photograph your work and have it assessed. The value of carpentry skills

  • At Work - carpentry skills are part of so many different jobs. Landscapers, furniture makers, fencing contractors, demolition workers and property managers are just a few of many jobs where carpentry skills can be a big part of your everyday work.
  • At Home - there are always little breakages around a home (e.g. doors or windows to be fixed, shelves to be put up, furniture to be repaired); and if you've ever thought about renovation projects, learning some basic carpentry skills can be a big advantage. You can always hire a tradesmen, but often you'll be waiting a long time to get the job done, not to mention paying a lot for a job you could have done yourself.

This course is not a substitute for the practical instruction one might obtain over a long apprenticeship, internship or other such experience; but it does provide a balanced and broad understanding of wood work; exploring the broad range of applications; and in doing so, complements and enhances the development of your knowledge about carpentry


Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Carpentry
    • Understanding Wood
    • Resistance to Rot, Fire
    • Defects in Timber
    • Turning Trees into Timber
    • Ways of Cutting Logs
    • Shrinkage Effects
    • Seasoning Timber
    • Moisture content of Wood
    • Stress Grading
    • Types of Wood
    • Types of Composites
    • Buying Timber
  2. Carpentry Tools, Equipment, Materials and Safety
    • Hand Tools -saws, hammers, chisels drills, planes,screwdrivers, other tools
    • Power Tools -nail guns, saws, electric drills, planer, sander, router
    • Materials -sandpaper, steel wool, nails, wood screws, glues, wood filler
    • Safety
    • Tool Maintenance
    • Sharpening techniqes
    • Sharpening tools -planes, chisels, saws
    • Cutting and Joining Timber
    • Storage -tool boxes
    • Hiring tools
  3. Cutting and Joining Timber
    • Types of joints -edge, butt,angled, mitres, framing, dovetail, mortise and tenon, housing joints, halving joints, etc.
    • Nails
    • Screws
    • Staples, bolts, connectors, straps, corrugated fasteners, glues
    • Glue blocks, dowels,biscuts, splines
    • Cutting and shaping timber
  4. Small Carpentry Projects
    • Hanging tools on a wall
    • The work bench
    • Making a work bench
    • Making a simple 2 door cupboard
    • Making a coffee table
    • Making a bookcase
  5. Outside Construction
    • Choosing timber
    • Pests -termites
    • Timber preservatives
    • Keeping timber off the ground
    • Using timber in the garden
    • Recycled timbers
    • Outdoor furniture
    • Building a wood deck
    • Building a wood fence
    • Where to build in the garden
    • Constructing a wall with railway sleepers
  6. Constructing Small Buildings
    • Types of foundations
    • Framing
    • Roofing
    • Building a wooden cabin
    • Building a wood gazebo
    • Building a cubby house
  7. 7. Understanding House Construction
    • Timber framed buildings
    • Timber floors
    • Doors and door frames
    • Door Construction
    • Door frames
    • Architraves and skirting
    • Windows and frames-sash, sliding sash, casement, pivot, slat
    • Roofs -single, double, trussed,etc
  8. 8. Handyman Repair Work
    • Fitting a lock
    • Repairing a sash window
    • Fitting aqnd hanging doors
    • Hanging a cupboard door
    • Form work for concrete foundations
    • Relaying floorboards
    • Resurfacing timber floors
    • Repairing a broken ledge and brace gate
  9. 9. Finishing Wood
    • Creating smooth surfaces -using a plane, sanding, etc.
    • Paints, stains and varnishes
    • Polyurethane
    • Shellac
    • French polishing
    • Stains
    • Paints -defects in painted surfaces, repaitning
    • Veneering
    • Preparing outdoor surfaces
    • Tips for outdoor finishes
  10. 10. Planning and Setting Out a Project
    • Setting out
    • Making a setting out rod
    • Introduction to technical or trade drawing
    • Drawing instruments
    • Types of drawings -plans, sections, elevations, etc
    • setting out a technical drawing
    • Building regulations
    • Measuring up
    • Working out quantities
    • Preparing and surveying a site for construction

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Describe the scope and nature of carpentry; differentiate between different timber products, and discuss the appropriate use of each.
  • Describe all significant carpentry tools and identify appropriate uses for each. Identify and manage risk in a carpentry workplace.
  • Describe a range of different techniques for cutting wood in a variety of different situations.
  • Describe and compare different techniques for joining wood.
  • Undertake a small carpentry project.
  • Explain construction of different things in an outdoor situation with wood; including fences, furniture and retaining walls
  • Explain the construction of different types of small buildings which are constructed mainly with wood; including garden sheds, gazebos and cubbies.
  • Explain a range of common carpentry tasks that a handyman may need to undertake in routine maintenance and repair work.
  • Explain a range of different techniques for finishing wood.
  • Determine an appropriate approach for planning a timber construction project.
  • Explain how a site should be set out in preparation for a construction project.


  • Most exterior timbers will benefit from the application of a water repellent preservative prior to other treatments. These preservatives are best suited to rough sawn surfaces. Two coats are generally recommended for new timbers. Timber that has had preservative applied, is commonly then painted with an oil-based primer followed by an oil-based undercoat, and then one or two oil-based top coats. Alternatively, it may be treated with an oil-based primer followed by one or two water-based top coats, or by an oil-based stain (with or without pigment).
  • Staining is not recommended for previously painted surfaces, however, painting can be usually carried out successfully over previously stained surfaces.
  • Stains should be well-mixed before, and regularly during, use. Use a natural bristle brush with oil-based stains, and a synthetic bristle brush with water-based ones.
  • Most timber used outdoors, unless it is very well seasoned, should not be completely sealed straight after construction, as it may still contain significant levels of moisture. Initially use a treatment that is porous and water repellent so that moisture is slowly lost from the timber reducing any cracking or warping.  For treated pine this might be a single coat of acrylic paint. Re-coat in a couple of months (depending on how wet the weather has been).
  • Some timbers will cope fairly well without any treatments, such as some hardwoods. These timbers may develop some surface cracking, and they will usually go greyish in colour. They can be treated to provide additional protection, and to prevent them turning grey. Many other timbers (e.g. treated pine) will rapidly crack and/or warp without treatment. Treated pines are commonly finished with acrylic paints, as experience has shown these offer greater durability, and maintain greater flexibility.
  • Any cut surfaces, particularly the end grain, will need extra attention to reduce the likelihood of splitting and cracking.
  • New or untreated timber being used in pergolas, fences, etc., should ideally have a coat of whatever treatment you are using applied before construction. Any cuts made during the construction process should also ideally be coated, including mitre joints, housed rafter joints to beams, and the base and backs of fence pickets. For further protection coat the interior of large bolt holes as well. Ideally use non-corrosive, hot-dipped galvanised fasteners (bolts, nails, and metal connector plates) for exterior construction work to prevent iron staining and loss of holding power due to the corrosion of iron (ferrous) fasteners.
  • Water-based (acrylic) paints can be applied to damp surfaces. In dry, warm conditions it may be necessary to dampen surfaces (as evenly as possible), particularly for very absorbent surfaces, to prevent too rapid drying. Oil-based paints should only be used on thoroughly dry surfaces.
  • Four coats (e.g. primer, undercoat, 2 x top coats) generally give better moisture control in timber than two-coat acrylic systems, however acrylic paints generally have a much shorter recoating time, allowing additional coats to be applied the same day.
  • Exterior stains and water repellents require more frequent application than paints to give good moisture control in timber.
  • Applying an exterior stain first can greatly increase the life of a clear finish.
  • In cool areas, or during cool seasons, be careful to allow sufficient time for treatments to dry before any morning dew the following day, as this may affect quality and appearance.
  • Generally, apply two coats of the final treatment to get the best level of protection. Further coats would largely be wasteful.
  • Stained exterior cedar cladding may need re-treating every 2-5 years depending on local climatic conditions, to keep it in good condition.
  • Recommended drying times for paints, stains, etc. is generally based on 25 degrees C, at 50% humidity. Drying times will vary with different conditions. Most of these treatments will not dry below 10 degrees C, and can blister at temperatures above 35 degrees C while drying.

How You Learn

This course is very practical, experiential learning. By encountering what you learn in a variety of different contexts, your learning is reinforced as you progress through your studies and that means it becomes embedded in your longer term memory, and is less likely to be forgotten than what might be learned in shorter competency based courses.

  • This course isn't about ticking you off against a list of basic competencies.
  • This course establishes sound practical skills and knowledge about working with wood, indoors or out.
  • Importantly it develops problem solving skills that are so valued by employers, but often not found in graduates from competency based courses.

This course may lead to:


Others though may use this course as a stepping stone to working in construction; in a hardware or timber supply store, as a property manager, making timber furniture or in a landscape construction job.

Graduates may simply use what they learn to be a better home handyman.


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