Chair making course
* Courses can also be arranged on dates to suit your needs, fill in the booking form with your preferred dates and Alasdair will be in touch to confirm availability.
All tools and materials are provided.
“I still have the first chair I ever made and it will always be special to me and my family. The great sense of accomplishment that making your very own chair brings is one of the things that inspired me to start passing on these skills and techniques, it is something everyone should experience at least once”
Over this full four day course you will make and assemble a complete chair from local ash and beech. Choosing from one of two traditional designs you will be responsible for shaping all components and joining them using traditional wedged mortice and tennon joints.
The course starts with the selection and felling of an appropriate ash tree from the surrounding woodland of Dartmoor. This will produce the legs, stretchers and stick back for your chair. You will carve your seat from seasoned beech, and the chair back will be steam bent in the greenwood workshop. As this will be your chair, the finished size and shape will be entirely in your hands or you can choose a chair pattern to a traditional design.
Chair making requires consistent accuracy and the finished chair will be assembled from up to 18 hand made components, there is therefore a lot to cover and achieve. Although experience is not essential, some basic prior knowledge is advisable and will make the course more rewarding. I would suggest the introduction to pole lathing two day course as a suitable precursor to this course. With the basic turning skills we will be able to focus more on the design and construction of the chair and cover more advanced turning and shaping techniques.
Course content will cover, tree selection and processing in order to collect suitable green logs from which components will be made. Cleaving and shaping techniques, use of side axe drawknife, and pole lathe. Hollowing techniques using adze, inshave and chisel. A variety of jointing methods will be covered as well as how to set out and achieve the desired angels. We will also look at the principles of chair design and explore what makes a chair stable and suitable for its intended purpose.
On the dayUnlimited tea, coffee and biscuits are provided. Please bring your own pack lunch as well, there is always plenty of time to stop to eat and chat! If you have your own tools and would like to bring them please do so although I will need to check that they are suitable. Please wear appropriate clothing, sturdy shoes are essential absolutely no sandals or flip flops please. The covered work shop offers a good degree of shelter but please wrap up if the weather warrants it. The course can be quite physical so be prepared to warm up whilst working and wrap up whilst chatting. Hand washing and toilet facilities are available on site courtesy of Clifford Barton Holiday cottages.
About the workshop
Little Acorn Furnitures Green Wood work shop has been developed in the Old Sheep Barn at Clifford Barton, which is located on the edge of the Dartmoor National Park. The Farm now hosts family holiday cottages and courses, as well as providing a home for rescued dwarf ponies.
Surrounded by beautiful Devon coutryside and the breathtaking Fingle Wood, the workshop provides a covered area where the courses can take place. However, there is also a large outside area overlooking the Valley where we hope to enjoy the fantastic Devon sunshine!
How to book
Children under 16 accompanied by an adult are half price.
Gift vouchers are available to purchase online.
A discount of 10% is applied to group bookings of four or more.
There are many advantages to making a group booking. By prior arrangement, the workshop will be yours exclusively for the duration of the course. Your time will also be your own to use as you wish, you can simply follow an existing course outline or work together on a larger project such as a table or chair.
This is a great way to experience the craft of green wood furniture making and working as a group a great deal can be accomplished in a short space of time.
Progress your skills with Little Acorn Furniture
Although all of our courses stand alone and there is no requirement to complete anyone before progressing to the next, it is possible to build your skills and experience by progressing through the various courses in order.
Starting with the one-day introduction which outlines the basic skills and principles you can progress to the two-day stool course, this will give a taste of the methods and techniques used to ‘join’ components together into a piece of furniture. The three and four-day course then provides an opportunity to be more creative and ambitious, building on all of your experience gained in the previous courses. Finally, the chair making course offers the chance to combine all of your knowledge and experience in one grand project.
On each new course you will be introduced to new tools and techniques that allow you to build skills and confidence and most importantly to us develop your own unique style and methods.
Booking a course as a gift
Why not include one of our Little Acorn Gift Boxes? See all gift boxes →
Little Acorn Gift boxes include a hand turned gift of your choice, an “about bodgers” card, left blank for your own message and an optional voucher for one of our green woodworking courses.
All presented in a beautiful gift box decorated with our tree logo.
Exeter is the nearest mainline station. A taxi from the Station to Clifford Barton will cost approximately £20.
From the North or East (or South on A30): take the M5 past Exeter which then turns into the A30. Continue along the A30 for approximately 10 miles and exit at the Woodleigh Junction, signposted Cheriton Bishop. Having entered Cheriton Bishop turn left immediately before the Old Thatch Pub – signposted Clifford Bridge. Continue along this road for 1.8 miles before turning right at the crossroads – signposted Clifford Bridge. After 0.8 miles turn right into Clifford Barton.
From the South on the A38: Take the Bovey Tracey turnoff onto the A382. Head towards Bovey Tracey and then stay on the A382 until you reach Moretonhampstead. In the centre of Moretonhampstead go straight across at the crossroads, then take the next right (Fore Street) and immediately left down Lime Street (opposite the library). Continue along this road, up and over Mardon Down ignoring any side roads and eventually come down to cross the River Teign at Clifford Cross. Shortly after the bridge there is a crossroads, go straight over signposted Cheriton Bishop. We are first on the left, signposted Clifford Barton.
Once at Clifford Barton, follow the drive with trees on your left. Once you reach the buildings go past the old Oak tree into the yard and park in the bays next to the timber clad barn, you will see Little Acorn Furniture at the end of the old cattle shed.
What three words
What three words location for the drive entrance ///slurping.counters.spicy
What three words location for the workshop ///darkest.surprises.boot
If you are unsure about finding us please call prior to your course as mobile reception at the work shop is limited.
Little Acorn Workshops
We advise you not to use sat nav for the last 5 mins because it is likely to take you on a very scenic, but long and windy route.
Family “greenwood” experience
Alasdair will take you through the basic principles of Green Woodworking and provide the knowledge, tools and materials needed to get you using a pole lathe. Turn as many items as you like using a variety of local hard woods and unlock the full potential of this ancient craft.
Introduction to pole lathing
During this one or two day course, you will get to practice the principles of green woodworking: cleaving and shaping the wood using side axe and draw knife before turning on a pole lathe to produce a range of items - as long as it is round!
This two-day course offers you the chance to produce a simple three or four legged stool with hard wood top and turned or draw knifed legs.
From tree to table
This three day course gives you time to produce a table or bench with stretchered legs using more advanced techniques. The addition of stretchers between the legs allows you to make larger items with more refinement.
Table making course
This four-day course gives you time to explore the intricacies of green wood furniture design to produce a dramatic and unique piece of furniture of your own design.
Make your own shaving horse
In order to make a traditional shaving horse you will need a pole lathe, in order to use a pole lathe a shaving horse is essential. Get around this catch 22 situation by making your very own shaving horse over two days in Alasdair's fully equipped Greenwood workshop.
Handle making and tool restoration
This is a one day course aimed at giving you the basic knowledge and skills required to make a tool handle of any sore from green Ash. Be it an axe, hammer, chisel or spade you can restore personalise and bring back to life any old tool. We will go back to the days when things were done 'proper' and a tool handle could last a lifetime of use.
Cleft hurdle gate making
Discover the ancient art of gate making using authentic traditional tools and techniques. Using the true nature of the wood to ensure both beauty and strength, start with a freshly cut log and explore the entire process of cleaving , shaping and jointing.
Work and learn at your own pace - receive uninterrupted expert tuition in the art of green wood furniture making and have exclusive access to the range of hardwoods available in the workshop.
What our customers say…
Did a great 1 day "introduction to pole lathing" course with Alasdair in August. Went through the whole process from log to rolling pin using axe, draw knife and turning chisel. Alasdair's experience covers everything from woodland management to green woodworking, so there's not much he doesn't know about wood. Definitely recommend this course and I can imagine the other courses he does will be equally enjoyable and informative.
I can't recommend Alasdair's courses enough. His passion for natural woodwork and the forests in general is a joy. He makes the experience fun, accessible and very informative. To understand the whole process from starting with a 3 meter long log and ending up with a turned piece was the thing that sold this course to me above others I looked at. I will be back!