Furniture making skills – a Japanese toolbox with Derek Jones


Ref: SLW11410

Join waiting list

Course full - scroll down for other

About this course

The key principles for building a traditional Japanese style tool box are simplicity, necessity and ingenuity. Using four versatile woodworking joints it's the perfect blend of good craftsmanship and minimalist design.

Course Description

Craftspeople the world over take great pride in producing suitable containers for their most treasured possessions; their tools. This box is based on the design for a tradional Japanese carpenter’s toolbox with features that are best experienced through making.

There are four separate joints used in the construction – lap joint, wedged mortise and tenon, dado and keyed wedge – that once mastered can easily translate into more complex designs. As well as developing a range of techniques for marking out and cutting joints with hand tools, you will also learn how to read the grain of a piece of wood and assess its suitability for a specific purpose.

Although some instruction will be available, you will benefit from being able to sharpen and maintain your own tools if you choose to bring them. Alternatively a full set of equipment will be provided. Students will have the opportunity to work into the evening, until 9pm, to ensure you have sufficient time to complete your project.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • Timber to build a tool box approx 700 x 300 x 200mm (LWH) from soft wood.

What students need to bring

  • Drawing and writing equipment
  • Stout covered footwear for the workshop is essential (no sandals)
  • Any woodworking tools you already have and would like to use in preference to those supplied for use on the course. These might include back saw/dovetail/japanese saw, cabinetmakers chisels, #5 bench plane, block plane, shoulder plane, fret/coping saw. Please do not purchase these especially.
Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals. You may need safety boots, if specified above.


Derek Jones

Derek Jones has been the editor of Furniture & Cabinetmaking magazine for the last seven years and has written extensively on the subject. A furniture maker with more than thirty years experience he now splits his time between teaching, demonstrating and running a bespoke furniture making business.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

Sign-up to be the first to know

Sign up to our Short Course enews to hear about new courses, late availability and get creative inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.