Courses

Chair-making Courses

I started running green wood courses in 1985, initially near Bristol, then in Devon, and since 1995, in Herefordshire: for 10 years at Clissett Wood and for 11 years at Brookhouse Wood. With each move, I have taken the opportunity to refine the content and format of the courses and to improve the facilities based to a large extent on feedback from students https://goingwiththegrain.org/course-feedback/. Over the years, I have found that of all the green woodworking projects on offer, it is the making of a chair that has proved most popular and rewarding for course participants.

In 2015 I moved these chair-making courses from the woodland back to the workshop in our cottage garden in order to embark upon semi-retirement (although some would say that happened in 1985!)

The Greenwood Cottage workshop 2017

The early stages of a chair-making course

 5-day Courses

for beginners

The courses usually run for 5 days and are limited to four students. All necessary tools, equipment and green wood will be provided but you are welcome to bring your own. For those who have not been on a chair-making course before, you are advised to keep to one of the more straightforward chair making projects, usually making a spindle-back chair.

From logs to chairs

The fruits of a spindle-back chair course in 2017

for those who have attended a previous course

The favourite option is to make a trade-mark lath-back chair, a style that evolved over the years in my workshop at Brookhouse Wood.

 

Lath-back chairs

The fruits of a lath-back chair course in 2017

The covid summer of 2020

As with everybody else, the summer of 2020 was quite extraordinary. Because of lock-down, I had to cancel some of the earlier courses, then the remaining four courses were limited to two participants. This was ideal for couples like Suzi (a beginner) who made the basic spindle-back, and Joe (a professional furniture-maker) who made a more complex lath-back.

Joe’s lath-back and Suzi’s spindle-back

Another advantage was that we had more scope to experiment with different ideas, one of which was to revert to the old idea of assembling the back frame of the chair, then the front, then joining the two. I still have to refine this approach but I have a strong feeling that this will be the way we assemble chairs in the future.

Charlie and Peter with their lath-back panels

Courses for 2021

As I write this in October 2020, there can be no certainty about next year’s programme but I am hoping to be able to run courses over the following dates:

  • June 28th to July 2nd
  • July 12th to 16th
  • July 26th to 30th
  • August 9th to 13th
  • August 23rd to 27th
  • September 6th to 10th

I hope to be able to have 4 people on each course but may have to limit them to 2. First priority goes to those who booked but were unable to attend courses in 2020. I shall then take new bookings but not ask for deposits until there can be a degree of certainty. So if you are interested in a course in 2021, please e-mail me at abbott@living-wood.co.uk to find out the latest news.

The course schedule

The schedule is roughly as follows, although there is some flexibility within this format:

  • Courses run from 9am to 6pm each day with about an hour’s break at lunchtime during which I can take my 20-minute ‘siesta’.
  • The first 2 days are spent making the components for the chairs, using the processes of cleaving, shaving, tenoning and steam-bending.
  • With the aid of a tight schedule for drying the components, the following 2 days are spent assembling the chairs.
  • The last day is spent weaving the seat, usually with Danish cord, weaving patterns that have evolved on my courses over the years.

The cost of the chair-making ash plus seating materials as well as hot drinks and a light lunch are included in the course fee of £480.

What will you take away from a green wood Chair-making course?

  • Your own unique wooden chair, created entirely from the log entirely through your own efforts;
  • The skills needed to continue on your own as a hobby or to develop further as a fulfilling occupation;
  • An awareness of just how much you can achieve without the need for sophisticated machinery.

Travel

Greenwood Cottage is located in a rural hamlet in East Herefordshire, midway between the cities of Hereford and Worcester.

Materials

Green wood and basic seating materials will be included in the price of the course but there may be a charge for any other materials that have to be bought in, such as unusual seating material for chairs.

Food

A light lunch plus hot or cold drinks will be provided each day and included in the price.

Accommodation

There will be no on-site accommodation available at Greenwood Cottage but there are many alternatives in the area. We can notify you of some recommended options when you book a course place.

Course times

Each day will run from 9am to 6pm with an hour break for lunch.

For latest information on course availability:

e-mail abbott@living-wood.co.uk or tel. 01531 640005 (8am to 8pm)

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