West Dean College

Derek Jones

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

This week I’ve been teaching a class down at West Dean in West Sussex or as it’s officially known, The Edward James Foundation. For creative course attendees, or serial offenders as I like to call them, West Dean is one of those places that you simply must have on your list of venues to try out. Set in a flint walled neo-gothic, castellated country house, the general surroundings and ambience are most conducive to artistic creativity. Have a look for yourself here

My group of eight students have been making the Moxon vice featured in F&C 248 complete with houndstooth dovetails. The Moxon is really only a staging post along the road to efficient dovetail production so we began by making a simple bench hook and shooting board to hone our sawing and marking skills before moving on to a range of more complex tasks to complete the perfect dovetailing workstation. Although everyone goes home with at least two completed projects out of the four on offer, the skills learned along the way will prepare them for a lifetime of self-reliant woodworking. The essence of this course has been to dispel some of the more convoluted theories relating to accurate sawing and make it feel as natural as breathing.

First job when I get back to the office will be to write this technique up for the winter issue that will drop on your mat just in time for Christmas around 24 November. Which by sheer coincidence should be just in time for you to start dropping hints to those struggling to compile a list. Don’t feel guilty, you’ll be doing them a favour!

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