The three Foundation in Woodwork courses are also offered in the form of the Intensive Course, when all fifteen lessons are completed over six days, from a Monday to the Saturday immediately following. This Course has proved to be very popular with students from all over South Africa, and overseas. 

Based in Cape Town, The Mercury School of Woodwork offers you the opportunity to rediscover the age-old craft of woodwork. Experience the joy and simplicity of working with your hands, along with the satisfaction of learning a useful skill. Whether you are a complete novice or a seasoned woodworker wanting to brush up on technique, you’ll find the course that suits you. Our youngest students were at Grade 8 level, and the oldest at 72 years!

The school was established in 2006 with the aim of providing students with the opportunity to gain knowledge of woodwork techniques, materials, machinery and finishes in a friendly, fun and safe environment. Our small classes ensure the perfect balance between shared learning and individual attention.

We currently offer Beginners’, Intermediate and Advanced courses in our Foundation in Woodwork phase. We also offer Courses in Router Use (Levels 1 & 2), Pocket Hole Joinery, Biscuit Wafer Joinery, Mortise and Tenon Joints (all one day) and a five day Course in Cupboard Building. 

Intensive Course

All three of our Foundation in Woodwork courses are also offered by way of our Intensive Course. In this instance, all fifteen lessons of the Foundation courses are completed over six days, from a Monday to the Saturday immediately following. This Course has been attended by students from all over South Africa, as well as those from outside the country.



This course is designed for those who either know little (or nothing) about woodwork, and those who might have forgotten what they did know. We teach students to make simple items to illustrate basic concepts in woodwork, while keeping it enjoyable and fun. By the end of the five-lesson course, you will have a solid understanding of the concept of working with a drawing and making something of it. Along the way, you will be introduced to all the hand tools you need to get going. The emphasis is almost entirely on hand tools (with the exception of powered drills). We demonstrate all the tools and students get to practice using them in class.

Click here for the full syllabus: Beginners



This course caters for students who have completed the beginners course or those with some background in woodwork. The Intermediate course will further your skills and knowledge of woodwork technicalities such as grain direction, sanding, fastening systems (screws, nails, wall plugs, etc) and drill bits. Lessons include demonstrations and discussions on hand power tools such as routers, sanding machines, jig saws, portable circular saws, etc. You’ll also be taught about standing power tools like the table saw, radial arm saw, surfacer, band saw, scroll saw, column drill, chisel morticer.

Click here for the full syllabus: Intermediate



By now, you’ll be ready to concentrate on joint-making, in particular, mortise and tenon, dowel joints, pocket-hole joinery, biscuit joinery, butt and half lap joints and edge-joining of solid timber. Advanced students will have enough expertise to make anything from picture frames to furniture, shelving and even decking. You can arrange private classes with one of the teachers at the school for assistance on a particular project you have in mind.



Click here for the full syllabus: Advanced     



We do offer one day courses (five hours) covering the following topics:

  • Pocket Hole Joinery
  • Biscuit Wafer Joinery
  • Router Use (Levels #1 & #2)
  • Mortise & Tenon Joints
  • There is also a five day (Monday – Friday) Cupboard Building course.


The course fees for all three levels in the Foundation in Woodwork phase are currently R1200-00 per Course, and this includes all materials.

Basic hand tool kit for woodwork:

Try square 300mm
Combination square 300mm
Sliding Bevel
Tape Measure 5,0m
Steel Rule 500mm
Steel Rule 150mm
Handsaw 660mm – General Purpose (9tpi)
Tenon Saw (Backsaw) 250mm (11-14tpi)
Claw hammer (fibre glass shaft)
Panel Pin Hammer
Chisel 6,0mm (1/4”)  (Bevel)
Chisel 18,0mm (3/4”) (Bevel)
Chisel mallet (+/- 500g)
Carpenter’s pencil
HB pencil
No 4 plane (Jack Plane 350-380 mm long)
#2 posidriv screwdriver
Carpenter’s pincers
Marking Gauge (cutting gauge)
Safety glasses
Dust mask

All of the Foundation in Woodwork courses (Beginners, Intermediate & Advanced) comprise of five lessons of about two hours’ duration each.

Students do not need to bring anything with them.

The Foundation Phase Courses are offered in four different time slots:

Tuesday or Wednesday evenings – 18h00 to 20h00 for five evenings total per Course

Tuesday & Thursday daytime 10h00 to 14h00 on a ‘double class’ basis five lessons per Course

Saturdays: Beginners’ 13h15; Intermediate 11h00 and Advanced 09h00 five lessons per Course

Intensive Course: all fifteen lessons of the Foundation in Woodwork phase are completed over six days, from a Monday to the Saturday immediately following. The class times are

Monday – Friday 10h00 to 14h00 or 15h00

Saturday 09h00 to 15h15



Custom woodwork & Timber decks


Tables and desks


Food serving boards


Pastry rolling pins & Wood decor items


“I am an attorney by profession and I have been doing woodwork as a hobby for the last ten years. The last time I had any form of training in woodwork was when I was in grade 9 (more than 30 years ago). I found it very difficult to get somebody to teach me in more detail more skills and techniques with the woodwork. I am from the Lowveld and here in the Lowveld is no woodwork institution / college that offer classes in woodwork on a part time basis.”
Thank you Buster

“I chose the Mercury School of Woodwork because I had so much things that I wanted to build and lacked the knowledge and had no idea where to start. Buster’s comprehensive courses enabled me to find my feet, and his amazing after-course care and generosity with advice helped me to realize every project I wanted to tackle. I would highly recommend the courses to anyone, even if you just want to a know a bit more about DIY to someone launching themselves into a new carpentry career – just do it!”

“I knew I wanted to learn more about woodwork, but had no idea where to start. After completing Buster’s Beginner, Intermediate and Advance course I am excited about all the possibilities that lies in front of me. I met so many people from all walks of life. Some were about to retire, some are just starting out in their new careers, but all of us were inspired and in awe of the knowledge and experiences shared by Buster. I now have the confidence to start creating because I now not only know which tools to use but also where to go for advice and help.”

“You don’t come across someone like Buster Tinsley every day. I’ve attended many of his woodworking classes over the years and am still astounded by the man’s carpentry skills and know how. But not only that – he shares this seemingly endless knowledge so freely, almost as if he himself doesn’t realize how valuable a mentor he is. There’s not a single tool in my workshop that I didn’t first discuss with him before buying – he’s advice is rock solid. And I’ve asked MANY a stupid question, which has always been answered with a kind patience. Go to Buster’s, you will not regret it. I’m very thankful for having this gentleman as my “uncle in the carpentry business”!

“With Buster Tinsley’s passion for the subject, and his wealth of knowledge, you cant go wrong by attending these courses. Not only does Buster divulge a wealth of useful tips and tricks, he also demonstrates the practical applications of woodwork skills and supervises projects that allows you to put to practice the skill sets you have learned. I would recommend these courses to anyone with an interest in working with their hands.”

“Buster is a brave man – he not only has let me into his workshop but has let me play with power tools! The school has given me a new creative outlet while making sure I work properly and safely.”

“Buster Tinsley is the best. I did the courses a couple of years ago and have been doing woodworking projects ever since. A truly enriching experience. Yay for the Mercury School of Woodwork.”