Skill Levels
At the Southwest School of Woodworking, we welcome students of all skill levels, from absolute novice to experienced craftspeople.

While many of our classes welcome beginners, our more advanced courses have prerequisites or require a certain skill level.

Skill levels are defined below for general information, but please see individual class listings for specific pre-requisites.

Skill Levels:


Turning Skills

  • Level 1 – Students are new to woodturning or have limited experience and no formal training.
  • Level 2 – Students have a basic understanding of fundamental turning tools and techniques and safe lathe use, and are comfortable sharpening gouges and using them to shape simple bowls, pens, and/or spindles.
  • Level 3 – Students have some formal technical training in woodturning and are familiar with techniques to sharpen gouges and shape bowls, platters, and hollow forms. Students have experience selecting and using both green and kiln-dried lumber.
  • Level 4 – Students have advanced skill and knowledge of woodturning, are highly motivated, and can work independently.

    General Woodworking Skills

Level 1 – Students are new to general or hand tool woodworking and have limited experience and no formal training.
Level 2– Students have some formal training and experience working with and sharpening basic hand tools and are familiar with the basic principles of joinery and stock preparation. A good overview of these skills can be found in Jim Tolpin’s book: The New Traditional Woodworker. Students may have started to build their own kit of hand tools.
Level 3 – Students have some formal training in hand tool woodworking and design and experience with a variety of woods and joinery techniques. Students know how to competently and safely use stationary machinery for stock preparation. Students have their own kits of hand tools.
Level 4 – Students have advanced skills and knowledge of furniture design and construction. They are highly motivated and can work independently to complete the design and construction of a complex project, including selecting lumber and materials and preparing a finishing schedule.