Monthly Archives: February 2016

Student feedback

Its great to get feedback form our students. It allows us to see where we are doing things well and also where we can make improvements in the future. It’s also the best way of communicating to those interested in our school exactly what we are all about.

So here you are. Totally unedited, apart from the addition of a few images, the feedback from David who recently spent 2 weeks in the school. I hope it’s both informing and inspiring…


Dear Olly and Will

I wanted to drop you a line now I am back from the course, not only to  thank you again but also to provide you with some ‘feedback’……feel free to use as you wish in terms of testimonial on the website etc.

I think you know that I was thrilled with the the two weeks, which far exceeded my expectations.  From my first morning at W&A I felt very much welcomed and part of the school.  Everyone was very friendly and the students and staff all made an effort to introduce themselves and welcome me.

As you know, when I decided to spend two weeks at the school I already had a reasonable amount of experience and had attended short courses at a couple of other schools in the UK.  My main aim in the two weeks with you was to spend enough time to get a real feel for what the school offered and figure out whether it would suit me for a longer course that I am looking to embark on later this year.  I was  particular keen to understand how you help your students develop their design skills as well as their making abilities.  My other key driver was to enhance my current making skills and technique towards the level and exacting standards of the work produced by W&A.

I am delighted to say the two week course met all these needs.  In Graham you have someone very special.  He is a great teacher, with patience and clearly a master craftsman at the top of his game. It was good to spend the first week working with him on the set projects and getting his advice and tips around hand tool techniques.  For a keen amateur like myself,  it was really important to see the professional standards Graham sets for himself, then for me to strive to meet these and then get his honest feedback. ‘Sensing’ when Graham was happy with my work and when he was not/wanted more,  was invaluable for me in being able to critique my own making and move from a reasonable amateur standard towards  the professional standard I aspire to. I was also really impressed with the way Graham adjusted his teaching to suit the skill level of each of the students on the course and the fact that he did not treat me as a complete beginner and allowed each student  to move through the set projects at their own pace.

2016-01-13 14.18.28

Spending time with Will (alongside James Chris and Hugh)  in a design session in the first week as was also really valuable as it started to give me a real insight into how this interaction and relationship works with the students on the longer course.  In fact this first session plus Will’s follow up email with useful references around design principals  spurred me on to get out my own sketchbook on the journey home on the train  after the first week and come up with my own tentative design ideas for the wall cabinet and stool set projects!

Spending a second week at the school was definitely the right thing to do. I reflected over the weekend on what I had achieved in week one and decided that I really wanted to get more interaction with Will around the design process in week 2  and was delighted when by the end of the Monday, Graham and Will were both talking about me making a box and suggesting I think about my own design ideas!   This could have been quite daunting but Will was great in planting the seeds of an idea around some sort of textured box lid  and Graham equally good in providing me with a couple of options in terms of what timber was available and what would be realistic to achieve in the time I had left. A few sketches overnight allowed me to refine ideas and a further chat with Will and Graham provided the bones of a design which evolved through the making process to become  the ‘Dune’ box. Whilst this process was necessarily compressed due to my limited time, it gave me real encouragement around attempting design and putting my own mark on a project. It was really interesting to see how the shape I  had envisaged originally for the lid on paper did not quite work when dry assembled but with some tweaks/playing with shapes with Will and Graham, it  turned into something really quite exciting and different.


The making process was equally satisfying,  as Graham was able to show me how to perform a raft of more advanced techniques/glue ups all done in a professional manner. It also included spending time in the machine shop with Graham which was another big plus.  Having my own home workshop machinery,  it was great to see Graham’s approach to machine set up and operation. I learnt a huge amount  which I will be applying in my own shop at home.  As with the hand tool techniques, I was familiar with most of the operations he was performing, the real learning, which was invaluable  was in seeing ‘how’ Graham did things in such a professional manner.

Finally Olly’s Photos and instagram feed updates were fun and surprisingly motivational….to be featured in the posts was quite an honour. It also opened my mind to just how social media can be used as a real vehicle for a small business/designer maker.



So, thank you again for the time at W&A.  As you know I have some big decisions to make over the next few months but I will definitely be back.  Also the box will be getting oiled this weekend.  I will send you pics as soon as its done.

kind regards,


I hope you enjoyed David’s feedback. If it inspires you to have a go please do get in touch with either Oliver or Will on 01539 822852 or via email at


IMG_7647We put a lot of energy into teaching cutting dovetail joints here at the furniture school. It’s important. A real test of hand skills. A real measure of how far our students have progressed. If they can cut an accurate dovetail joint they should feel confident that they can create fine furniture.

Why? Well cutting a dovetail joint without gaps means that you can mark accurately. Cut accurately. Pare with a chisel accurately…… Pretty much the requirement of all high level cabinet making.

And heres a selection of student project shots that include that most beautiful of joints….

2015-12-04 15.31.57DSC_8855DSC_2164DSC_2080


Great work.

Start September 2016.

As well as a little visual round up of life in the furniture school I wanted to let our blog readers know about a significant change that we have made to our Designer Maker Course.

Starting this September we have decided to have a fixed start date for our designer maker course (44 week course). Our Craftsman (12 weeks) and Master Craftsman course (24 weeks) will still have flexible start dates but in order to focus the content of the longer course we feel a single start date will work better.

So how many spaces are available each year?

We have 7 benches in the furniture school and we will dedicate 5 of these benches for Designer Maker students. The other 2 benches will be available for the shorter format courses.

How many are available for September 2016?

We currently have 2 benches left for a 2016 start. The interest in our school is growing day by day so we expect that these places will be taken soon.

And 2017?

4 benches are available for September 2017.


School visits.

It’s a good idea to visit the school before making such a significant investment in your education. It gives you a chance to get a feel for the school in full swing and it also gives us both a chance to make sure that the school is right for you. It’s a big decision for all of us.

Please feel free to contact us to arrange a visit. We don’t need much notice. As long as either Will and I are here we can give you the workshop and school tour.

Call 01539 822852 or email