Using traditional green woodworking techniques & hand tools only, accomplished chair maker, Ben Willis will take you through every step of making a Windsor chair from unseasoned ash … all made within in the woods from which your chair originated.
You will learn to cleave your log with a froe and shape each component of your chair with a drawknife, clamped by the shave horse you are sitting on. There will be opportunity to try turning on a foot-powered pole lathe. Then, using methods such as steam bending & sculpting with an adze, you’ll shape the comb & seat of your chair until each curve is just how you like it.
We are offering options of 5 or 6 day courses over which you can either make two stools, a side chair or an armchair. N.B. Due to the experience and extra time needed to make this more complicated design, the armchair option is only be open to people who have previous greenwood work 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.
'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
'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 enjoy
ed 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