Furniture Making Course: Traditional Dovetailing

Skill Level: Intermediate & Advanced  (Is this course right for me?)

About this Course

cut dovetails

In this course you will learn and practice traditional dovetailing techniques and the skills needed to layout, mark and cut dovetails by hand. This course is designed to teach you how professional cabinet makers make traditional hand cut dovetails without using magnetic saw guides or other gadgets.

It is ideal for those with some woodworking experience who want to widen their furniture making capabilities by learning the secrets of this gold-standard woodworking joint. You will take home your own dovetailed pieces, plus a kit of prepared components made from locally sourced timber, to help you practice dovetailing at home.

This four-day course runs over two consecutive weekends, or one extended weekend. The course is run in my workshop on the Surrey / Hampshire border, just outside the Georgian town of Farnham. I undertake all the teaching myself and, to ensure individual attention, there are never more than five students.

Background and History

dovetailed box from Vasa

The ability to create a perfect, hand cut, dovetail joint is the pinnacle of a woodworker’s joinery skills.

Because of their exceptional mechanical strength, dovetail joints are used throughout furniture making - in drawers, cabinet carcasses and boxes. The strength of the joint comes from the trapezoidal shape of the tails, the pins in the joint and the increased gluing area gained from the shape.

The dovetail joint has a long and impressive history. It can be found on ancient Egyptian furniture in the tomb of Tutankhamun, as well as boxes (example shown) discovered aboard the Swedish warship, the Vasa, which sank in 1628.

What you will Learn

The course covers:

  • The attributes of perfect dovetails
  • Dovetail joint selection
  • Preparing timber (refresher)
  • Setting / laying out dovetails
  • Dovetail saws and sawing tails and pins
  • Dovetail chisels and paring joints
  • Speed dovetailing: The fast way to hand cut dovetail excellence?
  • Gluing up
  • Advanced dovetail setting out
  • Using hand tools, such as mallet, chisels, marking and cutting gauge, dovetail saw, marking knife, smoothing plane

dovetails in contrasting wood

Objectives and Follow-Up

At the end of this course you will have gained the knowledge and skills to plan, set out and cut dovetails by hand in the traditional way. You will also have developed the confidence to continue practicing dovetailing for your future projects and know how to use hand tools safely.

Following the course you will receive an email with a range of information to help you take your next steps. For example, advice about buying and maintaining tools and details of suggested suppliers. We will also include plans and a materials list for a project using the skills you have learned during your course. This will help you put your new knowledge into practice.

Skill Level

If you haven’t trained with me before and would like some guidance on whether this course is right for you, please get in touch by emailing me at or calling 07811262360.


In Summary

Dovetailing Course: through dovetail closeup

The Dovetailing course runs over four days, either over two weekends, or a single block of four days. A range of dates are available throughout the year. Please see our Course Booking page for availability.

Courses run from 9.00am to 5.00pm. All tools and materials are provided.

Course fee: £595 (materials included).

We provide tea and coffee throughout the course, but you will need to arrange your own lunch. I recommend that you bring a packed lunch each day. However, we are only a few minutes by car from Farnham town centre if you need anything.

If you want accommodation, there are many excellent hotels and B&Bs in the area. Click this link to see a selection.

Please note that we are unable to accept applications from anyone under the age of 18 at the start of their course.

Here is a summary of course dates:

  • 02-03 & 09-10 November 2019 (full)
  • 09-10 & 16-17 May 2020
  • If you would like to be notified when new course dates are available, you can do so via our Newsletter here.

    Book This Course

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    Get in Touch!

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    Our Work in Images

    bespoke furniture images

    Get In Touch

    Aidan McEvoy Fine Furniture
    Willey Park Farm
    Alton Road

    Farnham, Surrey
    GU10 5ER

    Local Accommodation

    Here are details of local accommodation for course participants. Please note, for preferential rates, course participants are required to book directly with the accommodation-providers via telephone or email, mentioning the Aidan McEvoy Furniture Courses.

    Farnham House Hotel ***
    A charming country house hotel with 24 en-suite rooms, restaurant and bar, peacefully set and only a 2-minute walk from the workshop.
    Alton Road (A31)
    Farnham, Surrey
    GU10 5ER
    Tel: +44 (0) 1252 716908

    Mercure Farnham Bush Hotel ***
    Beautiful 17th-century period building. Restaurant, bar, lounge and parking. Central Farnham, with 5-minute walk to train station and 10-minute drive from the Workshop.
    The Borough
    Farnham, Surrey
    GU9 7NN
    Tel: +44 (0) 1252 715237

    Frampton Cottage B&B, Crondall
    Lovely secluded room in charming cottage, including terrace. Beautiful views, in quiet village. With two friendly chocolate labs. 10-minute drive from Workshop.
    Frampton Cottage
    Crondall, Surrey
    GU10 5QU
    Tel: +44 (0)1252 850792

    The Plume of Feathers, Crondall
    A 16-century Inn with 3 en-suite rooms, situated in a bustling pub with restaurant. 10-minute drive from Workshop.
    The Borough
    Crondall, Surrey
    GU10 5NT
    Tel: +44 (0) 1252 850245

    If you would like any further information on local accommodation, please feel free to contact us.

    Is this course right for me?

    Intermediate Courses

    Intermediate courses are suitable for those that have completed a beginners course with me or have acquired similar skills by other means.

    Attendees of intermediate level courses should

    • be familiar with hand planes including their sharpening
    • be able to achieve flat, straight and square with a hand plane
    • have basic knowledge of marking tools

    Still not sure which course is right for you?

    If you haven’t trained with me before and would like some guidance on which course is right for you please get in touch by emailing me at or calling 07811 262360.