Make a Windsor chair using traditional green woodworking techniques
See course details, dates, costs, tutors & stories from students below
Using traditional green woodworking techniques and hand tools, Ben Willis will take you through the process of making a chair using unseasoned ash harvested from the surrounding woodland. For the first time, our 2024 course will focus on a Welsh-stick style of armchair that has graced country hearths for hundreds of years. The option to make a side chair is also available.
You will cleave your log with a froe, shaping each chair component with a drawknife and spokeshave, clamped by the shave horse you are sitting on. This freeform way of working retains and enhances the curves and shapes that occur naturally in the wood, resulting in a piece this is uniquely sculptural. Then using carving tools such as an adze and travisher, you will then sculpt the seat to a comfortable bum-shaped hollow. You will be taken through the magical process of steam bending to create an elegant curved comb for your chair before final assembly using traditional chairmaking joinery.
Go home with a beautiful heirloom to treasure for years to come..
£660 - 6 day chair making
£55-£75 for materials depending on what you make
payable at the time of the course
Tea, coffee and simple lunch included in your course price
We also offer accommodation & evening meals
This course is aimed at adults, aged 18yrs +
and is suitable for beginners to those with experience
Ben Willis learnt his craft whilst working as an assistant
with Mike Abbott, a key figure in the revival of traditional wood working techniques. Since his time with Mike, Ben has been honing these skills and has also learned from others whilst developing his own ideas and approaches to the craft.
Although not a purist, the essence of what Ben does is still rooted firmly in practices developed over thousands of years. In today's tech-heavy society and in which manual skill is becoming less & less valued, the perpetuation of these skills is becoming ever more important.
Ben lives in the urban forest of London, where he teaches green woodworking and chair making to aspiring furniture makers, as well as producing his own work for sale.
See Ben Willis Woodcraft to see his beautiful work.
Stories from our students
'I spent the most magical week in Wernog Wood and came away with a gorgeous handmade chair which is comfortable as well as pretty! I feel restored and reconnected with my creative core. Thank you to Claire and Rob for their generous, relaxed and fun hospitality, and to Ben for his good-humoured, expert tuition. Put me down for the next one!' - Camilla
Such a happy haven. 5 days of the best sort of holiday. Combination of hard work learning lots of new skills in order to make a chair starting with ash logs. Working with 6 others with a variety of experience, in a very supportive encouraging atmosphere. Ben is a very good teacher, enabling us to make another chair at home if we so desired and had the tools. - Mandy
'A fantastic slice of nature’s offerings in the Welsh countryside - a perfect mix of hills, woodland, meadow and stream all in very close vicinity. Claire and Rob made us all very welcome, and kept us more than well fed and watered. The chairmaking course was a complete detox from a life over-burdened with electronics and mechanical tricks that ‘save’ us the bother, and true joy of hand crafting something as simple as a chair. There are easier and cheaper ways of adding a chair to the household inventory but most definitely none so satisfying. All under the very attentive eye and encouraging words of Ben Willis.' - James
"Badly wanting a complete breather from work, I needed a holiday that was different in every way from my normal stressful day. I have always enjoyed making things, but I hadn't appreciated that I would leave with so much more than a beautiful handmade chair. Thrown together with a small group of people from all walks of life, I wondered whether we would all get on... but camping and cooking for each other soon levelled us. I didn't leave the wood for a week and came home feeling revitalised... so good that I kept going back and now have four greenwood chairs around my kitchen table.... so good that I'm now organising courses for others to enjoy'. - Claire
Join the waiting list or express interest in future courses
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.