Learn to build things with wood for the garden. Ideal for landscapers or horticulturists wanting to broaden their skills into hard landscaping.

Course Code: BSS100
Fee Code: S1
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Study Carpentry at Home

This is a very solid introduction to carpentry techniques. It provides an understanding of most aspects of carpentry that are important for developing practical skills as a handyman, landscaper, property manager, farmer or other such

Learn about working with wood in landscaping, building construction, furniture making, fencing or any other application.

This course is not a substitute for the practical instruction one might obtain over a long apprenticeship, internship or other such experience; but it does provide a balanced and broad understanding of wood work; exploring the broad range of applications; and in doing so, complements and enhances the development of your knowledge about carpentry

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Scope and Nature of Carpentry
    • Understanding Wood
    • Resistance to Rot, Fire
    • Defects in Timber
    • Turning Trees into Timber
    • Ways of Cutting Logs
    • Shrinkage Effects
    • Seasoning Timber
    • Moisture content of Wood
    • Stress Grading
    • Types of Wood
    • Types of Composites
    • Buying Timber
  2. Carpentry Tools, Equipment, Materials and Safety
    • Hand Tools -saws, hammers, chisels drills, planes, screwdrivers, other tools
    • Power Tools -nail guns, saws, electric drills, planer, sander, router
    • Materials -sandpaper, steel wool, nails, wood screws, glues, wood filler
    • Safety
    • Tool Maintenance
    • Sharpening techniques
    • Sharpening tools -planes, chisels, saws
    • Cutting and Joining Timber
    • Storage -tool boxes
    • Hiring tools
  3. Cutting and Joining Timber
    • Types of joints -edge, butt, angled, mitres, framing, dovetail, mortise and tenon, housing joints, halving joints, etc.
    • Nails
    • Screws
    • Staples, bolts, connectors, straps, corrugated fasteners, glues
    • Glue blocks, dowels, biscuits, splines
    • Cutting and shaping timber
  4. Small Carpentry Projects
    • Hanging tools on a wall
    • The work bench
    • Making a work bench
    • Making a simple 2 door cupboard
    • Making a coffee table
    • Making a bookcase
  5. Outside Construction
    • Choosing timber
    • Pests -termites
    • Timber preservatives
    • Keeping timber off the ground
    • Using timber in the garden
    • Recycled timbers
    • Outdoor furniture
    • Building a wood deck
    • Building a wood fence
    • Where to build in the garden
    • Constructing a wall with railway sleepers
  6. Constructing Small Buildings
    • Types of foundations
    • Framing
    • Roofing
    • Building a wooden cabin
    • Building a wood gazebo
    • Building a cubby house
  7. Understanding House Construction
    • Timber framed buildings
    • Timber floors
    • Doors and door frames
    • Door Construction
    • Door frames
    • Architraves and skirting
    • Windows and frames-sash, sliding sash, casement, pivot, slat
    • Roofs -single, double, trussed, etc
  8. Handyman Repair Work
    • Fitting a lock
    • Repairing a sash window
    • Fitting and hanging doors
    • Hanging a cupboard door
    • Form work for concrete foundations
    • Relaying floorboards
    • Resurfacing timber floors
    • Repairing a broken ledge and brace gate
  9. Finishing Wood
    • Creating smooth surfaces -using a plane, sanding, etc.
    • Paints, stains and varnishes
    • Polyurethane
    • Shellac
    • French polishing
    • Stains
    • Paints -defects in painted surfaces, repainting
    • Veneering
    • Preparing outdoor surfaces
    • Tips for outdoor finishes
  10. Planning and Setting Out a Project
    • Setting out
    • Making a setting out rod
    • Introduction to technical or trade drawing
    • Drawing instruments
    • Types of drawings -plans, sections, elevations, etc
    • setting out a technical drawing
    • Building regulations
    • Measuring up
    • Working out quantities
    • Preparing and surveying a site for construction


  • Describe the scope and nature of carpentry; differentiate between different timber products, and discuss the appropriate use of each.
  • Describe all significant carpentry tools and identify appropriate uses for each. Identify and manage risk in a carpentry workplace.
  • Describe a range of different techniques for cutting wood in a variety of different situations.
  • Describe and compare different techniques for joining wood.
  • Undertake a small carpentry project.
  • Explain construction of different things in an outdoor situation with wood; including fences, furniture and retaining walls
  • Explain the construction of different types of small buildings which are constructed mainly with wood; including garden sheds, gazebos and cubbies.
  • Explain a range of common carpentry tasks that a handyman may need to undertake in routine maintenance and repair work.
  • Explain a range of different techniques for finishing wood.
  • Determine an appropriate approach for planning a timber construction project.
  • Explain how a site should be set out in preparation for a construction project.


This course will show you how to work with timber to build or repair anything made with wood, inside or out, small or large.

You will learn and understand the fundamentals of how to cut, shape, and join pieces of wood; and how to choose and treat the right type of wood for the job at hand.  Knowing this then provides a foundation for tackling any job, small or large.

This course by itself may not make you into a tradesman, but over time, building on this foundation, learning more and gaining experience, your proficiency working with wood will continue to grow. 

What you learn here can be very useful to anyone as a landscaper, garden manager or a handyman.



The following is suggestions on how to build a simple wooden cubby house for children which is raised on four wooden 4 x 4 inch corner posts. The whole house can be made using treated pine and treated decking with a corrugated iron pitched roof.

Setting out:


Mark out the position of the corner posts using stakes. Set the corners to form a rectangle at something like 2.4m x 1.5m.

Dig holes 50cm deep for each post. Install the posts (3m long) and tie them together using temporary bracing.

Mark the height of the floor at 1m on one post. Use this line and take a water level or string line and spirit level to mark the height on the other posts. Mark the inside face of each post, and number each post so you know where they go. Remove the posts and measure 14 cm down from the height mark on the inside face. Cut a housing joint to take a 2 x 6 floor joist on the inside face of each post (i.e. approximately (45 x 140).  

Replace the posts in their holes. Check that they are properly aligned and temporarily brace them upright in position. Pour in concrete and allow it to dry for 24 hours.

Make the floor:
Place two floor joists into position in their housing from front to back post. Bolt them into position. Using the same section joist timber, cut two more joists to span the width of the house, front and back. These will be fastened to the front and back of the of the posts (and joists you have just put into position). 

Secure joist hangers to the inside of these front and back joists spaced at 18 to 24 inch centres and put in more floor joists. Install some off-cuts in the corners by the posts level with the joists. You can now cut and lay timber decking to complete your floor. Make sure the decking runs to the outside of the floor joists at the front and back and abuts the face of the posts because the wall frame will sit on top of it.

Make the walls:
 Use 3 x 1½ (70 x 35) timber for the top and bottom wall plates and studs (to a height of around 170cm or 48 inches). You will need a stud at each end against the post. For the front panel and back panels two studs equally spaced in between the end ones should suffice. For the side panels one stud in the middle should be enough. Nail the studs to the bottom plate and top plate to make the frames.

Use the same section timber for the studs to make two window frames using four pieces of timber; position one on the front and one on one side, and fix those against the inside of the studs around 40cm from the top of the frame. If you put one window far left of the front and one on the far right of the right side, then you can put your door to the right of the front.

For the door, fix a header using the same stud timber 30cm from the top of the frame between two studs. Put the wall frames into position and secure so that they are flush with inside edge. Cut the tops off the corner posts level with  any projecting post sections.

For the roof:
The roof will have a gable end at each side of the longer length of the house, with a simplified king post construction comprised of a tie beam, king post and rafter on each side of the king post at 22.5°.
Use 4 x 2 inch (90 x 45mm) timber for the rafters and cut each end to 22.5°. The length of the four rafters will be 96cm long and they will overhang the walls equally on each side once assembled. Nail the rafters together at the top.  Cut the tie beam out of the same 4 x 2 timber. It should have a length of 151cm so it is just proud of the width of the house. Lay the assembled rafters flat over the tie beam and support the ridge with an off-cut. Mark the angles using the rafters as a template and cut the tie beam.

Nail the tie beam to the rafters and then add a king post to the middle of each gable end to support the rafters. Reinforce the joints with nail plates on the inside of each end. Secure the gables to each end of the wall frames.

Cut one roof batten to go top and bottom of each side of the roof running lengthwise. Use 3 x 1½ (70 x 35) timber. (You may want to an extra gable in the middle of the roof span).

Nail the battens to the gable ends 7cm from the bottom and top.

Cut and secure treated pine weatherboards to the outside of the walls, all the way up to the peak of the gable ends. Keep off-cuts to go around door and window openings. Once fully boarded, finish the door and window frames using decking or some similar trim.

Cut two roofing sheets of corrugated iron to go on each side of the roof allowing a small gap at the ridge. Cut and secure iron roof capping to run along the roof ridge of the iron roof sheets.

Cut facia boards to finish of the top of the front and back sides to cover the ends of the roof using 19 x 140mm timber. Use the same timber to make barge boards to finish off the gable ends.

Make a simple ladder by screwing 70 x 35mm rungs to 70 x 45mm rails. Space the rungs at 25cm apart and place in position to the doorway. You can screw it in position if required.

Sand down all rough edges.

Other things you could do would be to build a deck into your plan which sits outside the house. You would need to include extra posts to support this.

You could include a second door opening and have a slippery dip slide.

You might include grab handles inside the door frame so that children can steady themselves when they get to the top of the ladder.

You might want to paint the house, or get children to paint it.

You could include doors and windows but avoid glass. Whatever extras you consider, think about child safety at all times.


Whatever your situation and skills this course will help you to develop and enhance them to enable you to tackle those special carpentry projects.
Anyone working in landscaping or gardening is bound to be dealing with timber construction, in at least some parts of their job. Whether fencing, garden sheds, pergolas, timber furniture or something else; wood constructions do occur in gardens, and landscape professionals need to understand how they are build and maintained.
You may well build things out of timber yourself. You might not. Either way though; you need to know what you learn in this course if you are to make appropriate decisions about what is put into a garden, and/or how it is used and cared for.

Some students may use the knowledge from this course well beyond the outdoors.

What you learn here will make you more able to repair things inside buildings as well: furniture, building interiors or anything else.

Carpentry skills, like many trades, are not as easy to come by in today's world. If you want a good carpenter to do a job for you; it may be difficult to find one, and even if you can, you may be waiting a long time for them to do the job. If you learn carpentry for yourself, you can save on both time and money; not to mention the self satisfaction that comes from doing a job yourself.


Member of the Future Farmers Network

UK Register of Learning Providers, UK PRN10000112

Alternative Technology Association Member

Accredited ACS Global Partner

Member of the Nursery and Garden Industry Association since 1993

ACS is a silver sponsor of the AIH. The principal, John Mason, is a fellow. ACS certificate students are offered a free membership for this leading professional body.Provider.

Member of the Permaculture Association

Member of Study Gold Coast

Institute of Training and Occupational Learning (UK)

Principal John Mason is a member of Parks and Leisure Australia since 1974 and a fellow since 1998

Recognised since 1999 by IARC

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Timothy Walker B.A.(Botany), RHS.M. Hort., Post.Grad.Dip.Ed.

Botanist, Horticulturist and Gardener. Author and lecturer at Somerville College, Oxford. After training at a number of gardens including Windsor Great Park, and the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew commenced work at Oxford Botanic Gardens in 1986. Appointed as

Bob James

Horticulturalist, Agriculturalist, Environmental consultant, Businessman and Professional Writer. Over 40 years in industry, Bob has held a wide variety of senior positions in both government and private enterprise. Bob has a Dip. Animal Husb, B.App.Sc.,

John Mason (Horticulturist)

Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant.
Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK.
He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and edito

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