A beautiful sunburst.

Mark Dunning joined us for a shortened version of our designer maker course. He had little to no cabinet making experience but he had heaps of passion and energy to learn. Four months later and he has designed and made this…DSC_6305

…And the quality and beauty of this first self designed piece is testament to how quickly someone can progress when they combine this energy and passion to learn with the high quality teaching and guidance offered here at the furniture school. It’s a powerful and energising combination. Now over to some more beautiful images of Mark’s walnut and oak bow fronted sunburst cabinet…




New Designer Maker Courses.

I’ve posted about this before but here are a few words about our new designer maker courses. It’s now possible to attend just term 1, terms 1 and 2 or the complete 3 terms of a designer maker year. This is great for those on a tight schedule or importantly for our international students it allows those who can only gain shorter visas the chance to attend the school.

Those words:

After much debate we have decided to change how we run our ‘Designer Maker’ courses. We now offer 3 ‘Designer Maker’ courses. The full 44 week course (terms 1,2,3). A 28 week version (terms 1 and 2) and the short but intense 15 week (term 1 only) course. All our designer maker courses now start in September of each year with the course being fully booked for the 2017 intake.

This is the plan:


Designer Maker

44 weeks Designer Maker Course (terms 1,2 & 3) £17750

28 weeks Designer Maker Course (terms 1 & 2) £13750

15 weeks Designer Maker Course (term 1 only) £9750

Term 1 (Winter) Monday 3rd September – Friday 21st December 2018

Term 2 (Spring) Tuesday 7th January – Friday 29th March 2019

Term 3 (Summer) Monday 15th April – Friday 2nd August 2019



Term 1 : ‘Total immersion’.

This is the most intense period within the furniture school. The winter term is all about total immersion in all aspects of furniture making and furniture design. During this 15 week term our designer maker students will devote hundreds of hours to learning the core cabinet making hand skills. They will work closely and intensively with head tutor Graham Loveridge and through the carefully designed set projects develop high level skills in areas such as tool preparation & sharpening, accurate hand planing, precision chisel work, marking and measuring, jointing, carcass creation, making and fitting doors and piston fit drawers, inlay, veneering and much more.

Running alongside this essential ‘core handskills’ training we run a series of ‘specialist training days’. Each week we cover areas of furniture making that will both inform and inspire our designer makers. Topics such as laminating, shaping, carving, surface treatments and creative finishing, advanced veneering and marquetry, jig creation and much more are covered. These ‘hands on’ days are designed to expose our students to what is possible. To inspire. To sow the seeds of future designs.

And lets not forget the machine shop and the use of portable power tools. The set projects are designed to introduce and then master the use of the machines in our machine shop. We are realists. We understand that ‘core handskills’ are at the heart of every maker of fine furniture but we also understand that woodwork machines and portable power tools are an essential ingredient in the modern designer makers studio / workshop. By the end of the winter term our designer maker students will have received detailed training in the safe use of all the machines and power tools within the furniture school. Culminating in the occasional table project’ which is made almost entirely by machine but which is always finessed with hand tools. This combination of fine hand skills and the skilled use of power tools forms the basis of all that we do within the ‘pro workshop’ and furniture school. This is real life and often cutting edge furniture making.

Technical Design training is just as intense. Every project is drawn up on the computer. Starting with the simple ‘chinese puzzle’ project, head design tutor Will Acland walks our designer maker students through the use of Sketch Up and Layout. Workshop drawings, cutting lists and an order of process are created for each and every project made within the furniture school and this level of professional practise is insisted upon throughout the 44 weeks within the school. An essential ingredient in building confidence and self reliance within our designer maker students. The mission being to have at least one ‘self designed’ project meticulously designed, drawn up and planned before the end of term. For those that are only here for the winter term they will leave ready to start their journey within their home workshop. For those staying for the spring and summer terms this project will form the basis for the next stage of the journey within the school. Realising your own creations!

The mystery ingredient in this most intensive of times within the furniture school is creativity. It is important to us. We encourage it. We teach it. We inspire our designer maker students to express themselves and to develop their own design style. From Holly Acland\’s drawing classes to Will Acland’s one on one design development sessions our mission is to empower our students to make  considered design choices. To create pieces of beauty. To create the antiques of the future. To become true DESIGNER MAKERS.


Term 2 : ‘Building confidence’.

So our designer maker students now have excellent core hand skills. They are confident around woodworking machinery. They are proficient in the use of design software. They understand processes and professional practise within a designer maker studio / workshop. They are fizzing with design concepts and importantly they have design 1 ready to go as this forms the basis of what’s to come in term 2. Designing and making ever more complex pieces of furniture in conjunction with the tutors within the school. Each project being designed alongside Will Acland in the design studio. Each project being made with one on one guidance from Graham Loveridge in the bench room. Each project being designed for good reasons. To introduce new skills. To embed core skills. To practise traditional and contemporary joinery techniques. To build confidence in all areas within the workshop and school.

The specialist training days continue but their focus changes. Less focus on the technical aspects of furniture making and more towards design, inspiration and for those wanting to turn pro, starting your own designer maker business. We organise trips to galleries and exhibitions as well as visits to other designer maker workshops and timber suppliers. The purpose of these trips is clear. It’s to empower our designer makers. To build confidence and to show them that the dream of becoming a true designer and maker of fine furniture is very much achievable.


Term 3 : ‘Learning to sail your own ship’.

Being a designer maker of fine furniture requires a number of things. The ability to make to a high level is a starting point. So is an eye for design and the ability to turn these ideas into working drawings. Problem solving isn’t far behind and an understanding of how to run a small business and sell your fine furniture is another key skill. But one theme that runs throughout all of these concepts is ‘self reliance’. The confidence to make decisions, to design, to make independently is absolutely key to future success, and it is this ‘self reliance’ that is at the heart of term 3 on the designer maker course. During terms 1 and 2 we have worked hard to give you the skill and the knowledge to design, make and sell furniture. We have walked you thorough the design and build of a number of set and self designed projects. It’s now time to go solo! To drive your projects independently. The resources will still be there. The same level of access to teaching exists. The big difference is that the designer maker student now sets the agenda. From the design, to testing, to the final making, we now want our students to lead. The school and tutors are now a resource. A resource in terms of the quality workshop facilities but also a resource in terms of knowledge. The same level of tuition remains but instead of us running the show, it’s over to you. The DESIGNER MAKER!!!


The cabinets…

In this blog post I’m going to feature our current designer makers wall hanging cabinets. These cabinets are the last of the hand tool focussed set projects produced in term 1 of our designer maker course. They represent a real opportunity for our students to showcase their new or improved talents with the core woodworking hand skills.

I think I’ll let the images do the talking now…











Live edge Yew

Every time we post images of Craig’s bedside cabinets on our Instagram feed we get a huge  reaction from our followers in the US. I think it’s because the use of the waney or live edge as the Americans say is a big thing in the Sates. They love it.


We love the way the waney edge of the yew contrasts with the crisp clean lines of the cabinets. In particular we enjoyed the playful way that Craig solved the issue of the shaped drawer fronts meeting the drawer sides.


The choice of materials was also pretty spectacular with the light yew sap wood matching the sycamore perfectly. A beautiful piece.