I have been teaching chairmaking since 1995. This was my first year at the Gloucester Arts and Crafts Summer School (2018 will be its 38th year and my 23rd!). Since becoming self-employed I now teach from my own workshop as well as being the ladderback chairmaking tutor at West Dean College near Chichester. However, this year I will be tutoring my version of the Welsh Stick chair.
Most students, who attend my courses, are beginners to chairmaking, indeed, some have never done any serious woodwork at all. Despite this a quality chair is produced at the end of a very satisfying course as well as picking up a great deal of knowledge, tips and ideas. Occasionally potential students believe we assemble these chairs from kits - not true! Students make their own chair completely, except for the process of initially routing the mortices.
My workshop can take a maximum of three students and courses usually last for five full days.
Students on my courses mainly use seasoned timber (air-dried) and utilise the Rotary Plane for creating the rounded parts of the chair - although there is much more to chairmaking than just making the legs and back sticks!
Many other courses use green timber and students have to split their wood from the log but students on my courses will find their timber already cut from the plank and sawn to an octagonal profile when they arrive.
Ladderback chairs are the most popular choice for courses, whether they be of the Gimson/Clissett/Shaker or North Country style. These type of chairs allow/encourage plenty of design and creative input from students. The contemporary style windsors shown elsewhere on this site are also available to make but only on courses from my own workshop.
Lunch, tea, coffee etc are included in the cost of the course but materials are extra - in 2016 the materials for a large ladderback armchair cost approximately £50/£60
Course Cost (at my own workshop) - £350
Availability - by arrangement with me unless you enrol on a Summer School course or at West Dean. I aim to hold a course each month.
The pictures shown below are a mixture of examples of students' work and students at work on various stages of chairmaking.