Woodworking courses

From 1st May 2016 we will be offering inspirational (but relaxing!) Woodworking Courses here at Little Trewern.

These woodworking courses have been designed for beginners or ‘improving’ woodworkers. And we reckon that there are 10 good reasons to come and learn woodworking here at Little Trewern!

If you are a beginner, I recommend that you work through the first 3 modules consecutively. This will allow you to gain a basic understanding of green and traditional woodworking techniques, and you will also begin to develop the skills necessary to apply these techniques. The ability to saw accurately, to plane perfectly, and to cut joints exactly does take time to learn!

Each woodworking course module takes four days to complete, so you can come on a         4-day course or come on two 2-day courses to complete the module.

If you are not interested in woodlands and green wood working, then you can jump in at Module 2 which is the introduction to traditional furniture-making with dried timber. (I learned to make furniture before I understood anything about the ecology of the woodland or the characteristics of the trees from which I gained my timber. But I think, in retrospect, that this was the “wrong way round”) Additionally, if you have already gained a good grounding in making mortice and tenon joints and in constructing frames and panels, then you could move on to module 4 or come along with your own project as suggested in Module 5.

Finally, each module begins with an overview of safe working practices. Awareness of Health and Safety in the woodlands and in the workshop is vital. I don’t take short-cuts in terms of safe working practices or wearing appropriate safety gear. Your safety is therefore my first concern.

The cost of our woodworking courses are given here.


Module One:  In the Green Wood 

  • Learn to identify the main species of trees and plants in our native woodlands.
  • Learn about the life-cycle of the oak, ash , birch, and hazel.

    ancient hazel decaying and young coppice

    Hazel coppice, both ancient and modern. Decaying stumps are a vital part of the woodland’s ecology.

  • Learn how to grow and harvest hazel coppice, to produce a crop of pea-sticks, bean poles and raw material for green wood furniture.
  • Learn how to use a billhook to cut and sned (from the Old English “snaedan” meaning to remove the side branches) a coppice shoot.
  • Learn how to cleave and split green wood.
  • Learn how to shape green wood on a shave horse using the draw knife.

    Shavehorse made from green oak with draw knife

  • Learn about moisture in wood, and the different techniques used to overcome problems of swelling and contraction.
  • Learn how native timber can be milled locally, using bandsaw and chainsaw mills.
  • Learn how to stick and stack (dry) green timber for later use in the cabinet shop.

    Air dried oak

    Native oak  ‘sticked and stacked’ at Little Trewern.

The same oak dried and planed.

The same oak air-dried and planed.

  • Learn how to make a small piece of furniture or another artifact from green wood.

Practical project.

Example: make a small green wood table.

green wood table

A table from green wood made in February 2016. The table top is sawn-oak, the legs are split-ash and the stretchers are hazel.


Module 2:    An Introduction to traditional woodworking techniques.

  • Learn how to use the four key tools of the cabinet maker:

Bench planeDSC_0470

Tenon sawtenon saw

Mortise chisel and malletmortise chisel and mallet

Marking gaugemarking guage

  • Learn how to sharpen bench tools (an introduction only!)
  • Learn how to mark and cut mortice and tenon joints.
  • Learn how to design and construct a small table.
  • Learn how to glue and clamp a small table.
  • Lear how to “finish” your table with traditional or modern products.
  • Learn how to obtain quality timber for furniture making from 3 different sources.
  • Learn how modern power tools, such as the router and jigsaw, can be used in traditional furniture making.

Practical project.

Example: make a small table.

coffee table in native cherry wood

A coffee table in native cherry wood which I made in 1983


Module 3    An introduction to frame and panel making.

  • Learn how to design a functional frame and panel.
  • Learn how to cut the rails and stiles for the frame.
  • Learn how to cut the joints for the rails and stiles.

    A copy of a 17th century oak panel

    A copy of a 17th century oak panel, made for our hallway in 2013

  • Learn how to mill the grooves in the frame to hold the panel.
  • Learn how to make a traditional rub joint for the panel.
  • Learn how to glue and clamp a frame and panel.

Practical project.

Example:  make a simple frame and panel cabinet.

panelled bread bin

A frame and panel box, in this case a breadbin I made in 1975


Module 4: Timber framing

  • Learn about the history of timber framing (and visit some examples!)
  • Learn how to design a timber frame.
  • Learn how to convert oak logs to create beams and ‘small timbers’.
  • Learn how to lay up a frame.
  • Learn how to scribe and cut the key joints.
  • Learn how to assemble and draw-peg the joints.
  • Learn how to raise the frame.

Practical Project.

Example: Build a log shelter using timber-framing techniques


Log store built from green oak using traditional techniques in 2014


Module 5:  Make your own project!

Now you have the opportunity to make something that you have set your heart on!

  • I will work through the design with you, identify any problems, and suggest solutions as appropriate.
  • You will have the run of a spacious heated workshop with excellent facilities in terms of tools and workbenches.
  • I will be a guide beside you throughout the project.
  • I will advise you on how to obtain the timber for your project, and if appropriate, accompany you to select and purchase it.
  • If you need timber shaping, I will do this for you on the workshop’s planer, bandsaw or spindle moulder. (I cannot allow you to use these machines for insurance and health and safety reasons)
  • I will sympathise with you when things go wrong, and help you to overcome problems. In my experience, initial disappointment is the necessary price of success!

Practical project.  It’s your choice, but have a look at  a couple of things, large and small, that I have made over the years:

Table made in sycamore in 2003, chairs from ash in 1985.

Sycamore kitchen table, 2003. Ash country chairs, 1985.

cat mirror

Cherry wood mirror and jewellry case, made in 2010 for my daughter, Cat!

Bavarian style wardrobe

Bavarian-style wardrobe made from reclaimed pine, 1982. It now has pride of place in my workshop!