Fine furniture techniques – a steam bent and inlaid tray with Toby Winteringham


Ref: SLW12159

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About this course

Learn key furniture making techniques, including steam bending, moulding, grooving, veneering and marquetry, as you make a stylish oval serving tray with steam bent sides and a base inlaid with simple marquetry.

Course Description

This course introduces several techniques brought together in one simple project: steam bending, moulding, grooving, veneering and marquetry, which are key furniture making techniques. If you are a keen furniture maker, you may find these useful in future projects.

The tutor will lead the group through all the stages in the making of an oval tray with steam bent sides and marquetry decorated base. This begins with a session on the techniques and tool preparation. The tutor will talk about the use of the steam box and how steam bending works, health and safety considerations, the use of straps to control the bend and how to make them and compression allowances. There will be a steam bending demonstration, and you will carry out a marquetry exercise.

Firstly, you will select and prepare the tray sides by moulding and grooving with the router. The tray sides are steamed and bent to shape, and left to cool on formers. The tutor will also discuss other types of bending, and choosing the right method for the job: laminating, saw kerfing, solid shape curves, compression and chemical bending, alongside choosing woods and potential problems.

Next, you will prepare the marquetry – this will be a simple shape, which is then set into the background veneer. The tutor will bring plenty of templates to select from. You will use a scalpel to cut out the marquetry shapes. Some designs can be created using punches to cut the veneers. You will then bond the veneers to the tray base, using the bag press. On the final day, you will clean up the tray base, assemble and finish your tray.

You may need to work into the evenings to enable you to complete your tray by the end of the course. If you are non-resident, you may wish to book dinner in advance via the Bookings Office.


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


  • The course fee includes the cost of materials supplied by the tutor for the project.

What students need to bring

  • Pencils: 2H, HB, B, eraser, pencil sharpener
  • Sturdy covered footwear is essential in the workshop (no open toes) and apron
  • Scissors
  • Dusting brush (or 2”– 3” paintbrush)
  • Tape measure
  • Glasses for close working (if needed)
  • Any tools on the list below that you have (please mark any that you bring, with your name)

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Pencils, eraser
  • Scalpel handle no. 3 with a pack or two of 10A blades
  • Metal ruler for cutting against
  • Cabinet scraper (card scraper) – rectangular
  • Craft knife with snap off blades
  • Sandpaper: grades: 180, 240, 320 grit
  • Masking tape
It is essential that you are able to hold a scalpel, and use it steadily and with control to cut the veneers. Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Toby Winteringham

Toby creates individual furniture pieces and collections based on his observations of everyday life: be they natural, industrial or cultural. Inspired by simplicity, structure, pattern and function his pieces display a pared down beauty that both challenge and please in equal measure.


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

Courses of interest

Interested in a career in woodworking?

Our Foundation Degree specialising in Furniture is designed to give you well-rounded woodworking theory and craft skills to become a self-employed maker or craftsperson, to continue your studies in higher education or to find employment in the creative industry sector. Find out more

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