Our well-being is much enhanced by taking time to learn, to be creative, to problem solve and to just have fun making things. That is why in addition to his day to day job of conserving objects in the workshop, Bill also decided to run bespoke courses in traditional furniture related skills. We run evening courses, 1 day courses, weekend courses and series of courses to build different skills. This can be learning to restore furniture or learning woodwork skills to make small objects through to stools, chairs and tool chests.
We feel strongly that we must protect traditional skills and the associated materials used, yet over recent years many college courses have closed, apprenticeships have disappeared, schools teaching less design & technology and these vocational skills have been undervalued. Where would be be if we had not learned to make objects, which then go on to teach us about our history and culture.
Our aim is that you fall in love with woodworking, if you have not already. The joy of using hand tools, listening to the sound of the timber, reading the grain, smelling the different timbers, sharpening tools well and using you hands to make beautiful and functional items. Maybe you have tried to get past a certain technique and need help to finally master it or want to try something new, either way woodworking and restoration offers so much in return.
Many of the courses we run are also booked by family and friends as presents for their loved ones, for which we can provide a Personalized Gift Voucher and we are good at keeping a secret.
"Spent a glorious 5 days with Bill in his wonderfully equipped workshop. The time there was well paced and Bill willingly shares his plentiful knowledge. There is a steady supply of tea, great music and its a super opportunity for you to deepen your woodworking knowledge. I would recommend a course with Bill."
(Michael Balshaw 2021 - Chair Making Course)
"My boyfriend and I recently attended a 3 day course, in which we worked exclusively with Bill to complete a project of our choice.
The course was comprehensive and completely tailored to our needs. Bill worked incredibly hard to plan activities/tasks each day, ensuring that we were able to fit in as much as we could, whilst remaining flexible and allowing us to steer.
Bill is incredibly knowledgeable and a fantastic teacher. The course offered far more than we could ever have hoped and we have come away full of knowledge and enthusiasm!
Thank you Bill for such a wonderful course - we would book again in a heartbeat! " (Emily: July 2018)
"A brilliant course, Bill the tutor is highly skilled and is a fantastic tutor. He is very knowledgeable and guided me through all elements of upholstery from Making reusable templates, woodwork and construction of frames to buttoning and the final upholstery. I really enjoyed myself and feel ready to make more! A great course and great value for money." (Molly: June 2018)
These courses are covering the basics to give the foundation skills and let you try the craft
1 day course covering basic tool kit & techniques and you will cut a joint. Private tuition available, please contact us.
1 day course covering the approach to restoration, materials and techniques. Private tuition available, please contact us.
After completing the Introductory course you can arrange to do a follow up day or days, when it suits or regularly so that you can focus on particular items of furniture and skills. We have a number of people who attend regularly throughout the year.
A wide variety of woodworking courses based around the use of hand tools with some machine use
5 day course where you will use many techniques to make a Welsh Stick type chair from oak and ash.
Please see the Chair Making Course page for further details.
5 day course where you will learn to make a traditional tool chest, you will get the main carcass and lid completed and this will set you on your way to completing the project at home.
Please see the Tool Chest course page for further details.
These can be box making, make a stool, tool sharpening, focusing on dovetailing, make a workbench, make a pair of saw horses, make a shaving horse, and most aspects off the craft.
More courses will be launched throughout the year so please subscribe to our Newsletter
Develop you woodwork and furniture making skills on the 5 day chair making course. A busy and rewarding course where you take home your chair and the learning.
From a taster day for the total beginner to a more advanced woodwork course we can arrange tuition to suit your level. This includes looking at timber types, basic tools their maintenance and use. This then leads on to construction methods and joints, which develops knowledge and hand-skills.
Tool knowledge and selection is an enjoyable area to explore. What do all the different planes do? What is the best starter tool kit? For a particular part of a project is there a tool that will do a certain job more easily? Tool maintenance and sharpening is also an important subject and a basic skill that many woodworkers find difficult, which then impacts their work and enjoyment.
Sign up for the 5 day Tool Chest Course and spend your time dovetailing, planing, measuring, drilling, sawing and many other skills. There is no better way to hone your skills than repetition and every woodworker should have their own tool chest.
Gaining confidence and having that sense of achievement is invaluable. Making something that you can take away or gaining a skill that will enable you to go home and make something should not be underestimated in this 'buy and dispose of it' society. Once you have that skill, it cannot be taken away and it opens up many other opportunities for you. Of course, that first cup of tea sat in the chair you have made is very satisfying.
Bill teaches the ethical restoration of furniture, where the appropriate materials are used and we discuss the various options and techniques.
Understanding how to plan the treatment of an object is important and preserving as much of the original materials and surface finish are essential.
Can I attend a course if I am a total beginner?
The easy answer to that is yes, we all have to start somewhere and we will teach you the basics and make sure you are with others of a similar level. We operate in a positive, supportive and informal atmosphere. Our beginner courses are designed to give you a good foundation to build on and we look forward to welcoming you to the workshop.
Is the tutor qualified?
Yes, the majority of courses are run by Bill who is fully qualified from City & Guilds (Cabinetmaking, Upholstery and Surface Finishing), then a BA Degree in Furniture Restoration through to a Masters Degree in the Conservation of Historic Objects. Occasionally if a student requests a tuition on a particular subject, Bill may bring in a specialist to ensure you get the best tuition, so please contact us with any requests.
Can I bring my own tools?
Firstly you do not need to bring tools as the workshop is well equipped however by prior arrangement this can be done. This can often be an ideal time to teach tool sharpening using your own tools so you can get the most from them in the future.
Can I bring in a project to work on?
Again we want you to get what you want from your tuition so yes. We would want to see photos and agree the project in advance though to ensure it fits in with timescales, physical space and to assess material requirements. We have to assess if the object requires work that is suitable for the level of experience but we always try to be flexible.
Can you design a course to cover a specific skill area I want to learn?
Yes absolutely, this is what we love to do. We will consult with you beforehand, design a schedule and agree it with you. Please contact us.
Do you teach up-cycling?
As a conservator/restorer there is an interesting conversation to be had about the subject of up-cycling. We conserve and restore furniture and there is a strict set of ethical standards we work to regarding the history and integrity of an object. We are also accredited by BAFRA (British Antique Furniture Restorers' Association) and uphold their standards.
We do not teach up-cycling however many of the skills are transferable and If we can help someone to improve their skills and knowledge to help them in their own field, we are happy to do so. Woodworking, surface finishing and upholstery are all important skills.
The course is a gift for someone, do you do gift vouchers?
Of course, we will invoice you for the course and you will have a record that the course has been paid for. Should you require it, we can also email you a personalized gift voucher to give to the recipient.
We will keep adding to the FAQs as and when required.