The art of cleaving - make a cleft oak garden gate 

See course details, dates, costs, tutors & stories from students below
Cleft oak gate course

Over 4 days Jack Ritson will introduce you to traditional green woodworking techniques, taking a close look at the different grades and characteristics of oak for strength and beauty. You will learn the art of cleaving to split your log into various sizes using wedges & froes. You will then use an axe & drawknife to shape these on your shave horse, and finally cut mortice & tenon joints for assembly into a finished and beautiful gate.

Cleaving is the technique of splitting wood down the grain rather than the more conventional sawing of fibres. Consequently, cleft wood is an incredibly strong, durable and long lasting material. The gates you make will use the natural shape of the wood and require no treatment due to the high tannin content in the oak.

You will take home a handmade gate of up to 4ft wide that will make you proud each time you walk through it!




17-20 June 2022



6-9 August 2022


Jack Ritson Cleft oak gate making


£420 - tuition fees

plus £15 for hinges & £40-£50 for timber

depending on size of gate


Tea, coffee and simple lunch included in your course price 

We also offer accommodation & evening meals

Click here to see what we offer

This course is aimed at adults, aged 18yrs + and is suitable for beginners to those with experience

Jack Ritson - Riven Oak Design



Jack Ritson has been both managing woodland and greenwood working for over 8 years now.


Jack started learning his trade as an apprentice in Devon, but now runs Riven Oak Design out of Westonbirt arboretum where he is part of a long term coppice restoration project.

Jack is passionate about trees and woodland, and loves the mix of both managing and making.

He now specialises is cleft oak products such as swing seats, garden benches, fences, hurdles and of course, gates!

Stories from our students

My gate is now in pride of place. It’s a skill that can be understood and put to great use thanks to excellent tutors with great skill and personality. I will be definitely making other gates on my own now at home.


Wernog Wood 10 out of 10 great place. Thanks for looking after us so well. Really really brilliant course, good people and lovely location. - Ned

Thanks to both instructors and Wernog Wood I now have 4 blisters but a lovely oak gate (nearly finished) and my aching back has gone. Really enjoyed the hard work thanks. - Paul

Had a great time …..shattered, but I said l’d not leave without a gate…. And with great tutors and support I got it done! Thanks , I’ll be back - Matt