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.
Once at Clifford Barton, cross the cattle grid and follow the drive past the old Oak tree into the yard and park next to the old metal barn, you will see Little Acorn Furniture at the end of the old cattle shed.
If you are unsure about finding us please call prior to your course as mobile reception at the work shop is limited
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 at 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 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…
Took 5 children along to learn carpentry. They all had an amazing time, each made a sword and a baseball bat (their choice). They did everyhthing from sawing the wood to shaping it. Alisdair was so good with them and made sure they each left with finished items. My son who has ADHD was engaged from the start and cannot wait to go again. The parents also had a go and really enjoyed the day too.
Absolutely wonderful experience! I haven't had so much fun in a long time. Alastair and his crew are helpful, knowledgeable, kind and funny. They helped us make 2 beautiful tables, well outside our previous skills and knowledge. They adapted to our planned projects and were just amazing. The course is set in a fabulous place. The skills I've learned I want to use going forward and we will return for more! Thank you Alastair!
Our experience at Little Acorn Furniture exceeded every expectation we had. I found Alasdair online while looking for a furniture course to book for our honeymoon and despite living in London LAF stood out as the best and only option. After many long discussions with Alasdair we agreed on a three day course to make a three meter long bespoke dining table from one piece of chestnut. Alasdair was so enthusiastic and even though he knew the sheer amount of work involved he didn’t try to change our minds once. Exceptionally kindly Alasdair offered to give the course to us alone for our honeymoon and this made it even more special. LAF is nestled into an exceptionally beautiful part of the world, right in a valley in the Dartmoor National Park, utterly tranquil and charming. It was so lovely to spend time in the forest and really get a feel for how sustainable and authentic the experience of taking a tree and working it into a table can be. Alasdair and Simon were the perfect pair, they explained everything clearly and demonstrated techniques in an accessible way. What was really impressive was Alasdair’s approach, he really wanted US to make the table and wanted our hands to have made every single component, this made the experience for us. We had wanted to include some ambitious elements and although it was challenging Alasdair was entirely supportive and ensured we got the finish and details we had envisaged. After three days we had a dining room table big enough to seat ten people comfortably made from two pieces of wood, one chestnut slab and one log of cherry. We wanted to create something bespoke and sustainable so the fact we had minimal to no waste was really special. Alasdair and Simon have helped us to create something we can keep and use forever, we are so thankful. There is no way we could have had a more rewarding or enjoyable honeymoon. Please support this wonderful business, you will not be disappointed.