One-day hurdle making basics, two-day advanced hurdle gate construction.
* 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.
“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.
Develop new skills or increase your experience and confidence in Little Acorn’s dedicated Green Wood Workshop, fully equipped and situated on the edge of stunning Fingle Wood in Dartmoor National Park.
The traditional cleft hurdle has been a fundamental part of rural life in English throughout history. Starting with a freshly felled log you will complete the entire process using only traditional tools and exploring the ancient techniques involved.
No experience is needed and families are welcome so come along and learn some new skills whilst having a great time!
One day course
Here we will go through the process required to make a cleft hurdle or hurdle gate. Working on a small example of a simple gate you will be given the knowledge and experience to select appropriate timber from the woodland and create your own gate. We will discuss the pros and cons of different tree species and look for the signs that the timber will be strong, stable and easy to work. This will also tie in with woodland management, conservation and habitat protection to ensure that the timber is sustainably sourced.
The aim of the course is to explore all of the techniques and variations of traditional hurdle gates rather than the completion of a specific project. Once the course is completed you will have the confidence to build your own hurdle gate.
The work starts with cleaving the log into four or eight pieces which will be shaped using a side axe and drawknife.
Once we have the basic components we will look in detail at the various designs available and then shape the tenons required to join the hurdle together. Winding rods and similar techniques will be employed to ensure that the hurdle is not twisted or warped in any way. The mortices can then be marked, drilled and chiselled out and the gate assembled.
A diagonal brace or braces can be added and the entire structure secured with oak pegs made by yourself.
This course will give you the opportunity to make your own hurdle gate to your own specific dimensions. The format is the same as the one-day course however you will be working towards your completed gate from the start. Alasdair will provide a log of suitable size and species for you to use and all material costs are included.
Please be sure to measure the required size, Alasdair is on hand to offer advice and guidance with this if needed, just get in touch. We will need to know the size well in advance of the course date to ensure that everything is ready for you.
It is anticipated that an average size garden gate spanning an opening of 3ft or so can be made in two days, if you have a project more ambitious than this you may need an additional day or two. Please contact Alasdair to discuss the options available.
Whatever the size or design you will leave with a unique and beautifully crafted gate made entirely by your own hand.
Alasdair is available through social media and his web site to offer continuing support and advice to all customers.
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.
Is this course available on other dates?
If these dates don’t suit you or you would like to book both courses consecutively why not contact Alasdair directly to arrange a time that suits you. However big or small your group we will be able to provide a course that suits your needs.
Please place your enquiry as soon as possible to ensure we can arrange dates that suit you.
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.
Chair making course
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 therm using traditional wedged mortice and tenon joints
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.
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…
Birthday gift from my wife who knew I liked mucking about with wood. Probably the best birthday present I've ever had, I was totally in my element. Alasdair, Simon and Joel make the whole experience interesting, fun and challenging. They leave you to get on with things, if that's what you want, or are always there to help with a helpful demo or gentle nudge in the right direction. At the end you will feel like you've really achieved something e.g turning a log into a working tool, or piece of furniture, all whilst using the same tools and techniques that were used hundreds of years ago. No sounds of power tools here, just the gentle sounds of the forest and some eager woodworkers creating some amazing things from scratch. Seriously, it really is that good.
We had 2 fantastic days with Alastair and Simon creating 3 shave horses. We had such fun and chat whilst learning green woodworking skills and appreciation for our environment. We certainly learnt great respect for the green wood furniture makers of the past. I would unreservedly recommend this course.
What a great weekend, I was there with a 17 year old boy that I care for and the experience was amazing. Jack did the two day stool making course and he loved it. Alastair and Simon where great at helping and explaining the process to Jack and made sure that Jack was involved in the whole weekend. It is a full on course and jack loved the hands on experience. He especially liked working on the lathes and produced a rolling pin and rounders bat. There were three other people on the course and Alastair and Simon where brilliant at including Jack throughout the two days. I cannot thank Alastair and Simon enough for such a great weekend and experience. And to see Jack's happy face when his stool was finished was a memory I shall never forget. Cheers guys, I shall be back to make my own stool.
Special present from my son. A brilliant two day experience. The total weekend was great fun, really interesting and a real experience. Tea to start the day then a root around to find a suitable stool top that we each liked the look of. Then a bit of history behind greenwood working. The recently felled log was then produced which we split in half then into quarters. That was a coat off job even in December. A explanation of the next stage of making a rough leg shape came next and how to use the various hand tools. There's always someone to help or offer advice. Using the various hand tool was fantastic and it was the same kind of tools and same methods used back in history hundreds of years ago. The whole process was really absorbing which meant you where able to focus entirely on the three legged stool you are making or discussing each others plans or components. By the end of the two days we had each produced a three legged stool which we were very happy with. Can't wait to move on to another course with Little Acorn Furniture.