Sunday, February 15, 2009

Woodworking Schools

I'm a big fan of woodworking schools. Watching a master woodworker show his or her techniques in person where you can ask questions and where they can look over your shoulder and tweak your actions has proven to be invaluable in improving my skills.

And just as soon as I hit the lottery, I plan to become a full-time ww student.

So far, I've taken classes at Olde Mill Cabinet Shoppe, Cedar Lakes Conference Center, The Woodworks Shows, and Woodcraft. Each one has been well worth the cost and time. And two things in particular I've found to be true: 1) even if you think you know the subject well, you will always learn something new, and 2) even if you take a woodworking class you think you might not like*—whatever you learn will prove to be useful somewhere along your woodworking journey.

A friend took a class at Marc Adams School of Woodworking and says it was one of the best experiences of his life. Another friend has taken classes at Country Workshops and highly recommends it. Someone else just told me about the John C. Campbell Folk School which looks like lots of fun.

The Center for Furniture Craftsmanship is on my list of places where I plan to take classes someday. And I hear that Roy Underhill is soon to open his own school. (I am so there.)

If you've had good experiences at woodworking schools, I'd like to hear your thoughts and recommendations.

Note added 2.24.09: Links to all of your recommendations can be found on the links page in the side bar.

*I wasn't so sure I'd like chip carving, but was proven wrong. Plus, I learned another way to sharpen.

The photo above is a cherry plate I turned in class yesterday (without finish) and a poplar lidded box I turned in class last week.


Furnitude said...

Great post, Kari. There's also the Northwest Woodworking Studio and folks like Brian Boggs and Curtis Buchanan give classes. Hal Taylor also. I hope to take several of these someday.

Eric said...

Hey Kari, great post! I spent a memorable day at Homestead Heritage near Waco, TX (link below). Homestead Heritage is a Christian community which offers classes on stuff like raising livestock and bees, spinning and weaving, making cheese and soap, etc. It's real 19th-century stuff there! (But their furniture shop DOES have a power tools room.)

Their furniture shop is pretty cool, and they offer lots of courses. I went there for just a one-day 1-on-1 session with one of their craftsmen (which also can be arranged).

I definitely want to go back there when we're back in the States. I think you'd love it as well.

Anonymous said...

So far the only place I've taken a classes is at Highland Hardware in Atlanta. That is going to change in April, going to learn at the workbench of the Master Galoot in April at Marc Adams.

Anonymous said...

Tillers near Kalamazoo, Michigan has a series of woodworking classes. Most are weekends and most have a "rural crafts" flavor. They also have an extensive series of classes on other rural crafts.

Tillers is a non-profit which supports sustainable development projects in Africa and Central America and has a demonstration farm in addition to their classes.

The Woodwright's School has sent it's first newsletter. Woodnet has a thread with it.

Anonymous said...

Kari, a very timely post for me. This coming weekend I will be taking a week long hand tool class with Jim Tolpin at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. I am also looking at a class later this summer at the Northwest Woodworking Studio. In the past I have taken classes at Woodcraft and the Homestead Village. This is a concerted effort on my part to rub shoulders with as many experienced woodworkers as I can. I see spending funds on instruction rather than tools as a better way to advance my skills.

Anonymous said...


Like one of your other readers notes, a timely post. I've been planning an entry on my blog about the many classes I have taken at Drew & Louise Langsner's Country Workshops, in Marshall, NC. They have offered woodworking classes there since 1978. I first got there in 1980, for chairmaking with John Alexander. Unreal. great facility, great teaching, wonderful setting. Food is out of this world...all in all, you can't go wrong there.
thanks for kicking this concept around.

Dan said...

Kari -

Thanks for the exciting information about Roy's school! I had not heard about that! I better start saving - I WILL make it there someday!

I have also been wanting to go to Country Workshops since reading Drew's books...

Thanks for the links to the other schools as well. Too many cool places and not enought time!

AAAndrew said...

Just last week I visited Roy's shop which is only 30 minutes south of where I live and work. I wrote a post about it and put up some pictures.

And now, over the weekend, I get the notice of the first class. I'll be there March 1!! I don't care that I already know how to cut M&T and dovetails. Who couldn't use more practice, and it's the first class!

I took a couple of really good classes with Joe Trippi when he was still at the Woodcraft store in Livonia, MI. He's now got his own school and starts you out at intro to hand tools, intro to hand-cut joinery, and you end up with a Chippendale chair. He's also a master at inlay. I'm not sure if the school is still around as I just looked for it and it seems the URL no longer points to the school. If he's still giving classes, take them.


Anonymous said...

Although a slightly different kind of woodworking, my two weeks at the WoodenBoat School last year were superb!

Their best boatbuilding instructor, Greg Rössell, taught the class. Greg has written several books on the subject and I have read his centerpiece book over and over. Despite "knowing" everything in that book, I certainly did learn yet more during those two weeks.

The most valuable part of that learning included not only the depth of Greg's knowledge and his wonderful wit, but great advice on what to do when things don't go as planned.

Just as you suggest Kari, you'll definitely learn more with good classes.

More of my comments on the WoodenBoat School at: and

Anonymous said...


I agree with you, attending a class is one of my favorite parts of the hobby. As you said, no matter how well you think you have mastered the subject, there is always something to learn. Another aspect of classes that I have found enjoyable is sharing ideas and discussions with other class members, unlike most of the people I know, their eyes don't glaze over when you spend hours talking to them about woodworking.

As others have said, Country Workshops, Marc Adams and Tillers are great places to take classes, each has it's own personality and many things to recommend them. Two other places that I have taken multiple classes and enjoyed very much are Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, TN and John Wilson's Home Shop in Charlotte, MI. Arrowmont is my favorite because the food is great and there are usually 6 or 7 classes being taught at the same time, woodworking and wood turning along with other more artsy subjects like photography, painting, ceramics, paper, fabrics, jewelry, etc. and it is inspiring to talk to the other students and instructors for a broader perspective on arts and crafts.

Another venue that I have found very educational is the SAPFM regional meetings. These are usually one or two day meetings where SAPFM members give a 2 hour or so presentation about topics that are of interest to the members. Typically the quality of the presentations is very good, the costs are nominal and you can meet other woodworkers in your area.

Jim Crammond

Kari Hultman said...

I'd like to thank everyone for their recommendations--they're awesome. Some schools I've never even heard of before. I'll post all of them, along with links, in the next blog post. Thanks again.

johnjoiner said...

Nice post.

Two I'd like to mention. on Lake Superior in northern Mn is a folk school. I've taken a timber framing class, and spoon carving class there. Both were great. And the school is literally on the edge of the lake - a great site.

I also took a one-week class at which is northwest of Vancouver. If you're into Krenov, or just want to work on good hand skills this is great. Krenov has retired from teaching. But it appears Robert Van Norman is carrying on the tradition nicely. During my week there JK himself called twice to give half-hour lectures over the phone. I can't wait to go back.

Anonymous said...

I took a class at Peter's Valley Crafts Center in NJ.
It was a hooped back stool making course taught by Peter Galbert in the windsor style.
It was a great course on technique and use of VERY sharp hand tools.
Peter is an excellent instructor and an extraordinarily gifted craftsman.
I also took a course at his workshop and made a comb back rocker.
In following years I assisted Pete at Penland School of Crafts (NC) and had a full immersion experience at that fine craft school. All experiences were wonderful and informative. they all improved my skills by quantum levels.
I hope to take more classes in the future.

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks for the recommendations, guys. Rich, I'm taking a one-on-one class with Pete in the fall. :o)

Anonymous said...

I've taken five classes at Kelly Mehler's woodworking school, with two more scheduled for this year. Great facilities, people, and a part of the country (Berea, KY) I would not otherwise visit.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great post and for linking to our website. We appreciate it very much!

We have a call to Maine wood artists who would like to submit artwork for our Maine Wood 2010 exhibition. Watch our website for details!

Messler Gallery Manager

Unknown said...

Hi Kari! I just started the twelve week intensive course at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship up in Rockport, Maine. I quit my job in marketing to pursue a whole new career path in woodworking. I've really enjoyed searching through all of your old posts...come check out my blog if you have a minute!

- Johnny

Kari Hultman said...

Thanks, Chuck, for the recommendation. I know another person who has also taken classes there and raved about it.

GM, you're welcome!

Johnny, good for you! You're living a dream that many woodworkers have. Good luck to you on your new career path.

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