Woodworking 101 (Techniques and Everyday Projects)

by The Great Courses

This hands-on and practical course is made in partnership with the Woodworkers Guild of America, an organization that believes in feeding your passion for wood craft with new techniques and inspiring ideas delivered by some of the best woodworking instructors in the world.



img Duration

13 Lectures

Course Details

Online Woodworking 101: Techniques and Everyday Projects course by The Great Courses


Course Overview:

In an age where furniture is mass-produced, it’s no wonder that many people yearn to return to the days when craftsmanship was king and a piece of beautiful, solid wood furniture or a handcrafted keepsake could be passed down from generation to generation.

Woodworking is a skill that can be learned at any age and mastered over a lifetime. There is no end to what you can learn because with each project your work becomes more efficient and more polished. There is something magical about coming into a workshop and inhaling the earthy scents of pine, cedar, and walnut. You may find yourself leaving the stress of your everyday life behind as you enter a realm where things are built with care and intended to last a lifetime.

Whether you're crafting a future family heirloom or doing simple repairs around the house, Woodworking 101: Techniques and Everyday Projects, produced by the Woodworkers Guild of America, is an invaluable guide to both the fundamental and comprehensive skills you need to know.

Your instructor on this journey is the affable and knowledgeable George Vondriska, who has taught woodworking skills to eager audiences everywhere from the Pentagon to Africa. As his virtual apprentice, you will master shop-proven and time-tested techniques and be able to tackle projects large and small with newfound confidence.

In these 13 lessons, spanning more than 20 hours, you will learn how to get the most from the tools of the trade you’d find in a typical woodworking shop. Mr. Vondriska walks you step-by-step through using the tools that every beginning woodworker should own. You will learn how to plan and build items that will showcase your woodworking skills while creating practical items that can be used every day, including storage solutions, jigs, and fixtures.


And since no woodworking course would be complete without several projects to hone your skills, this course includes over a dozen undertakings, including designing:

  • a rolling material cart with pegboard storage,

  • a two-sided game board for tic-tac-toe and last man,

  • a complete set of intricate wooden chess pieces,

  • a pair of planters for your garden that double as seating, and

  • a cabinet with an acrylic panel door that hangs with a French cleat.


This hands-on and practical course is made in partnership with the Woodworkers Guild of America, an organization that believes in feeding your passion for wood craft with new techniques and inspiring ideas delivered by some of the best woodworking instructors in the world.


Build a Solid Foundation for a Lifelong Hobby

As with every craft, before you can bring your creative ideas to life, you need to thoroughly grasp the basic tools and techniques of the trade. Mr. Vondriska starts with a review of the basic setup and functions of each tool you will find in a standard wood shop, even going as far as disassembling some tools so you can understand exactly how they work. Slow-motion video footage is used to illustrate the differences between various models of the same type of tool.


Mr. Vondriska delves into the following tools in depth:

  • Table saw

  • Band saw

  • Circular saw

  • Track saw

  • Jig saw

  • Router (plunge base and fixed base)

  • Biscuit joiner

  • Belt sander

  • Random orbit sander


Each of these tools is an investment—some costing several hundred dollars—and not a purchase that should be made without significant research. Luckily, Mr. Vondriska has decades of experience as a woodworker and woodworking instructor. In each lesson of Woodworking 101, he provides you with

  • expert buying advice to make you an educated consumer, including which power tool features are useful and which are optional for the recreational woodworker;

  • recommendations about when it is worthwhile to rent time at a professional shop rather than purchasing a larger tool yourself;

  • detailed instructions to be sure your tools are set up properly for both safe operation and accurate cuts;

  • demonstration of proper safety measures to protect your eyes, ears, and hands; and

  • ideas for small projects that you can build that can help improve the shop environment and increase the versatility of each of your tools.


Beyond power tools, consider an item as ubiquitous as glue. Did you know that modern glues are now so strong that many types are more resilient than the material being adhered? Mr. Vondriska demonstrates this by showing two pieces of wood that have been glued edge to edge. When he slams the wood against a table, the wood itself breaks, leaving the glued seam perfectly intact.

In an entire lesson dedicated to adhesives and clamping, you will explore the pros and cons of various types of glues, from common white glue to epoxy.


Consider some of the common and uncommon glues that are used in woodworking:

  • Polyvinyl acetate: Everyday white glue has a very long drying time, which makes it useful for projects when you need a lot of time to get pieces set up properly before clamping.

  • Hot glue: It’s not only for the craft room! Hot glue is handy in the wood shop when you need to create a temporary bond between two items, like attaching a paper pattern to a piece of wood.

  • Hide glue: This adhesive was historically made by boiling animal hides and dissolves when exposed to hot water. Musical instrument makers use hide glue to make it easier to take apart a wooden instrument to do repairs.

  • Epoxy: This adhesive comes in two parts—hardener and resin—that have a chemical reaction when mixed together, creating a waterproof seal.


Clever Tips and Techniques Abound

You will want to keep a notebook handy when watching these lessons to jot down all of the tips and techniques that are packed into each moment during your time in Mr. Vondriska’s shop. Even experienced woodworkers will find gems of knowledge or a new way of thinking about a technique they thought they had mastered.


Uncover secrets for:

  • stabilizing your biscuit joiner when the piece of wood you’re cutting is too narrow;

  • cutting perfect finger joints every time;

  • cove cutting with a table saw (not many woodworkers know how to do this!);

  • creating a book match using a resawing technique that exposes the beautiful grain of a piece of wood;

  • sharpening every tool in the shop, including your kitchen scissors;

  • measuring angled legs to ensure a proper height for a desk; and

  • cutting non-traditional materials like antlers, gemstone composites, and more.


Project Guides & Inspiration

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned woodworker, this course will provide you with ideas for woodworking projects large and small.

  • Chess & Checkers Board: Create a beautiful game board made with contrasting woods without cutting and gluing individual squares. Marvel as you watch your instructor transform a block of wood into a beautiful Queen chess piece using the scroll saw.

  • Shorts & Sheet Goods Rack: An organized shop is a productive shop! Build a compact storage rack that will securely hold your off-cuts and sheets of wood so you can easily peruse them when planning your next project.

  • Modular Cabinet: Make a small cabinet that is perfect for storing small items or tools, whether in the wood shop, quilting room, or a child’s playroom. Cut dados with uniform spacing that allow you to create exactly the size drawers you need and swap the order of drawers in the cabinet with ease.

  • Table Saw Miter Sled: Cut perfect 45-degree angles without having to adjust the saw blade—even for wide boards. This project is one you will use over and over again in your shop.


Mr. Vondriska walks you through each project from start to finish as the camera follows his movements, providing perfect angles for you to see his expert hands at work. The included PDF files offer sourcing information for supplies, scroll saw patterns for the wooden chess pieces, and cutting lists for each project described in the course.


A Lifetime of Enjoyment

Inspired by a number of woodworkers at an early age, George Vondriska has been woodworking since he was 11 years old, starting out with a Dunlap scroll saw and Craftsman lathe. He finds great joy in teaching and has taught woodworking in the Peace Corps, at the U.S. Pentagon, and to local Boy Scouts earning their woodworking merit badges.

His expertise and enjoyment of the craft is evident in every lesson as he treats each piece with care and shares stories and advice that can only be gained through decades of experience.

With Mr. Vondriska’s expert instruction, you will find yourself being more effective and efficient as a woodworker, achieving better results with less time and effort. Woodworking 101: Techniques and Everyday Projects will undoubtedly be the most powerful tool in your shop.

  • Online Branch

    Online, Online, Online
  • Teacher's Name
  • George
  • Teacher's Experience
  • George Vondriska has been teaching woodworking since 1986. In addition to teaching classes at his own Vondriska Woodworks School, George has taught at woodworking shows and retail stores across the country, in Africa as part of the Peace Corps, and for organizations from Andersen Window to Northwest Airlines. He has even taught woodworking at the Pentagon. After getting his B.S. in Science Education at the University of St. Thomas and a teaching degree in Technical Education from the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Mr. Vondriska began his career as a woodworking educator at ShopSmith Academy. Since then, he has taught at or helped develop curriculum for woodworking education programs around the world. Beyond his work in education, Mr. Vondriska volunteers as an Assistant Scoutmaster and Woodworking Merit Badge Counselor for the Boy Scouts of America. He also runs guitar building sessions for Guitars 4 Vets, a program that provides acoustic guitars and music lessons to injured military veterans. Mr. Vondriska is the Managing Editor of the WoodWorkers Guild of America. He has also written for American Woodworker Magazine, Fine Woodworking, WOOD, and Woodworkers Journal. He holds a U.S. Patent, issued in February 2008, for inventing the tenon cutting router bit.
  • Gender
  • Male
  • Teacher's Nationality
  • N/A

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