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!)

Course underway
Greenwood Cottage course shelter 2019

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 summers of 2020 and 2021

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

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.

Charlie and Peter with their lath-back panels

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. Since then I have refined this approach and this is now the way we shall assemble chairs into the future. You can read more about this in the blogs.

Courses for 2022

I was able to run a full programme of courses in 2021 and I hope that I will be able to do this again in 2022, when I intend to run courses over the following dates:

  • May 16th to 20th
  • May 28th to June 1st
  • June 13th to 17th
  • June 27th to July 1st
  • July 11th to 15th
  • July 25th to 29th
  • August 8th to 12th

Through notifying people on my waiting list and the newsletter list, all the above places have been filled. I will probably get some cancellations, and I may add another date or two, so if you are keen to attend a course in 2022, then please e-mail me at abbott@living-wood.co.uk to find out the latest news. If all else fails, I can add you to the waiting list for 2023.

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’.
  • Days 1 & 2 are spent making the components for the chairs, using the processes of cleaving, shaving, tenoning and steam-bending.
  • Day 3 will allow time to keep making components, while with the aid of a tight schedule for drying the components, most people are likely to make a start on assembling the chairs.
  • Day 4 is definitely spent completing the assembly and oiling the chairs ready for……
  • Day 5, which is spent weaving the seat, usually with Danish cord; weaving patterns that have evolved on my courses over the years.

The course fee of £550

This includes all tuition, as well as the cost of the chair-making ash logs plus seating materials as well as hot drinks and a light lunch.

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 Halmonds Frome, 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.

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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)