Green Wood Chairmaking Courses
Woodland Chairmaking Courses
Mike started running green wood courses in 1985, initially near Bristol, then in Devon and, since 1995, in Herefordshire. In 2005 he moved his woodland workshop to Brookhouse Wood, a few miles south of the small market town of Bromyard, in east Herefordshire. With each move, Mike has 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 (the results of which can be seen on the ‘Feedback’ page). As a result of this on-going development, these courses have gained an international repute attracting students from as far afield as Scandinavia, the USA, Japan and New Zealand.
Over the years, Mike has found that of all the green woodworking projects he has offered, it is the making of a chair that has proved most popular and rewarding for course participants. For those who have not been on a chair making course before, you are advised to keep to one of the more straight forward chair making projects. For those with sufficient experience there is the opportunity to take on a more advanced project such as an armchair.
The woodland courses run for 6 days and are usually limited to eight students, with two or three capable assistants working alongside Mike. All necessary tools, equipment and green wood will be provided but you are welcome to bring your own. Beginners are urged to keep to making one of the more simple designs, while those who have attended previous courses may be able to tackle an armchair or a full rocker.
The 6-day schedule is as follows, although there is some flexibility within this format:
Courses start promptly at 2 pm, allowing the morning for participants to arrive by their chosen means of transport.
The first afternoon is spent getting to know the facilities, the tools, the techniques and each other, and will usually include felling a tree.
The next 2 1/2 days are spent making the components for the chairs, using the processes of cleaving, shaving, tenoning and steam-bending.
With the aid of a strict schedule for drying the components, the next 1 1/2 days are spent assembling the chairs.
The last day is spent weaving the seat with the choice of materials including, sea-grass, paper rush, Danish cord, wych-elm bark or kambaa (plaited palm leaves). (please note there will be an extra charge for seating materials, normally £15 per seat but up to £40 depending on the materials and size of seat)
Pole Lathe Turning
On all courses, there will be a chance for students to practice some of the basic skills of pole-lathe turning on one of the pole-lathes permanently set up in the woodland workshop.
In spring, there are a number of Development Weeks in which to get the workshop back into action after the winter hibernation and to carry out any new developments that are needed. These weeks provide an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in setting up a workshop of their own. There will be a charge of £30 per week, to cover food but this will entitle you to a £30 voucher towards the cost of attending one of the regular courses from May to September and camping will be free.
Each year there are a limited number of places for aspiring young green woodworkers to assist on the courses in exchange for free food, camping and a chance to learn green woodworking skills in greater depth. Normally there is one assistant from April to September with a number of deputy assistants working for a month or so.
If you are interested, please send us a short c.v. including your age, experience and ambitions.
Tuition at Greenwood Cottage
Personal Tuition In The Winter
As an alternative to the courses described above, Mike also offers personal tuition during February and March, in his workshop at home, for one or two people at a time, covering a wide range of green wood skills and tool sharpening. These courses are suitable as either an introduction to green woodwork, as intensive training for those who wish to concentrate on particular aspects of the subject, or for those who just can’t wait until the summer.
Accommodation at Greenwood Cottage
Unlike the woodland courses, there is limited on-site accommodation at Greenwood Cottage but a special arrangement has been agreed for bed and breakfast at the Majors Arms, a traditional country pub within a few hundred metres.
What will you take away from a green wood Chairmaking course?
Your own unique wooden produce, 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 powered equipment;
Probably the most lasting memory will come from the experience of working and relaxing with a group of like-minded people in a peaceful environment away from the pressures of everyday life.