top of page

The art of cleaving - make a cleft oak garden gate 

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

Gates north Wales



13-16 June 2024



8-11 August 2024


Making a gate


£450 - tuition fees

£40-£50 for timber depending on size of gate

plus £20 for hinges


approx £4 per rail if you would like nice black bolts

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
Woodwork courses, classes and workshops in Wales
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
Woodwork courses, classes and workshops in Wales
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
I recently spent a fantastic 4 days at Wernog Wood creating a gate from an Oak tree using only the power of hand tools and the experience of the great teacher Jack. The hospitality of Claire and Rob was great, home make cake and bread !! I would definitely spend another fun weekend at Wernog Woods - Rob
Ben and I had a fabulous 4 days and Jack was an excellent course tutor. He gave help and advice when needed but let us get on with gate making, knowing he was there to show us the way. We’re both rather pleased with the gates we made! - Ray
Woodwork courses, classes and workshops in Wales
Jack was such a nice and knowledgeable tutor, he really did the course proud. As you must be well aware, you have got something really special going at Wernog, the place has a great feel and I haven’t felt so relaxed and switched off from the daily thoughts and mental paraphernalia that jiggles around my head for a long time - and have come home with an absolutely fabulous (even if I do say so myself) characterful gate to boot. John
My visit felt like a wonderful mix of learning new skills, using my hands to make something special, being in the company of like-minded people, sleeping outdoors (which I love) with plenty of good food! Heaven, really! - Jenny

Upcoming Dates

Join the waiting list or express interest in future courses

N.B. If you cannot see the Book Now section, scroll up to Upcoming Dates

If a course is full, please join the waiting list as we will contact you in case of any cancellation ... it does happen!


If you would like to attend a course but can't make it on the available date, you can register interest in future dates.

bottom of page