Simply stools

“Times they are a changing! and we are moving”

After several fantastic years of delivering courses and making creations in Devon we are moving.
Little Acorn Furniture is taking a break from the rolling fields and wooded hills of Mid Devon . We will be re-emerging in a year or so in a very different setting, the island of Orkney is to become our new home.
We fully intend to honour all existing bookings but are unable to take new orders for courses or equipment. You can as ever get in touch to talk about all things Green Wood and conservation and feel free to ask how I intend to cope with the treeless landscape of the islands.

Two day course ASK A QUESTION 

* 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.


“The first piece of furniture I made for my wife was a stool.  It was the only place in her house where she could get a mobile signal, and meant that we could chat long distance.  Because of that stool I am now happily married with two beautiful daughters”

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.

Make your own unique and individual piece of furniture from scratch. These courses allow you to get creative and under Alasdair’s close guidance make your own table or stool. Choose from a range of seasoned hard wood tops or seats all from the surrounding native woodland, then shape, carve and finish them using traditional green wood tools and techniques. Complement this with green wood legs (and stretchers for those on the three day course) which will be cleft from a freshly cut log and shaped using side axe, drawknife and pole lathe. The fundamental techniques of green wood working will all be covered in depth allowing you to produce the components for your furniture. The later section of the course will delve into the details and methods of using round mortice and tenon joints secured with oak wedges to complete your table or stool. The detail of marking out, setting the angles and producing secure long lasting joints will all be covered, setting you up to move on to more complex pieces and expand your knowledge.

You will be responsible for the basic design, size and layout of your piece. Examples of Alasdair’s previous work will be on hand for guidance and inspiration. It is then up to you to work with the green wood to achieve the feel and character you desire. The emphasis is on allowing the natural characteristics of the material to shine through, and to control how the natural material influences the finished article: this is the very nature of green woodworking.

In detail

Starting from first principles no experience is necessary although be aware that the work can be quite physical.  It is advisable but by no means necessary that the two day course be completed before signing up to the three day course. I like to start the longer course by selecting and felling a tree from the nearby woodland, this gives us a chance to discuss some of the issues surrounding our native woodland and its care, note that all courses will include a guided woodland walk even if we have no need to fell a tree specifically for the course.

The three main elements of green woodworking will be used in depth, chopping block for cleaving and shaping with a side axe; shaving horse and pole lathe. Unlike the dedicated pole lathing courses it will be important to understand that the components must ultimately come together into one complete piece and this will influence the entire process from timber selection to final jointing. You will after this course have a deep understanding of the methods and principles of the green wood craft and most importantly how they can be applied to produce a piece of furniture. In addition to this you will leave with your very own hand made item, I still have my first one in fact you will see it if you attend a course.

On the day

Unlimited 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

You can pay online or make an enquiry via our booking form or, alternatively, simply contact me directly.

Children under 16 accompanied by an adult are half price.

Gift vouchers are available to purchase online.

Group Bookings

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.


By train

Exeter is the nearest mainline station. A taxi from the Station to Clifford Barton will cost approximately £20.

By car

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
Clifford Barton

07010 048 684

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.

Other courses

  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • One-to-one tuition
    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.

Kevin Henry Avatar Kevin Henry

Loved the woodworking course, learnt loads and very pleased with the finished stool. Did the 2 day 'Simply Stools' course.

Matthew Bass Avatar Matthew Bass

We had an amazing experience wood turning with Alasdair. His workshop is a very very special place! He is incredibly knowledgable about the entire process and a fantastic teacher - I would wholeheartedly recommend doing a course with him!

JO HARMAN - Official Avatar JO HARMAN - Official

Wonderful work on a commission for a special birthday. Documented and photographed from start with cutting the wood, making the top and legs to assembling and final polishing. If you want something special I can not recommend them highly enough. I will be going back for more individual pieces of furniture to be hand made.

Hazel Payne Avatar Hazel Payne

Had a fantastic day pole lathing with Alasdair and Simon. The course was excellent value for the day and there was a great ratio with a small group. Would recommend to anyone, I had an absolutely brilliant day!

Will Silver Avatar Will Silver