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…

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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 2016 intake.

For those wanting to concentrate purely on learning how to make at the highest of standards then we are still offering the Master Craftsman and Craftsman courses in terms 2 and 3. Nothing changes with these hands on practical courses. The change is with our designer maker offering.

This is the plan:

DESIGNER MAKER COURSES 2017/18

Designer Maker

44 weeks Designer Maker Course (terms 1,2 & 3) £16750

28 weeks Designer Maker Course (terms 1 & 2) £13500

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

Term 1 (Winter) Monday 4th September – Friday 15th December 2017

Term 2 (Spring) Tuesday 2nd January – Friday 30th March 2018

Term 3 (Summer) Monday 16th April – Friday 3rd August 2018

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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.

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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.

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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!!!

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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…

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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.

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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.

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

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Duffield Timber

A wood lovers paradise!

 

What a day we had selecting timber this week. Our designer maker students all needed timber for their first self designed projects so we got in the van and headed through Yorkshire to a timber merchant that for whatever reason I had never visited before called Duffield timber near Ripon in North Yorkshire.

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Well what a day we had. I can honestly say this was the best timber purchasing experience I have ever had. Not only do they have extensive wood sheds with boules and packs of the most glorious native and imported timbers but they have recently opened what they call the trade centre. Now having heard about this I was expecting a fairly low key room filled with a small selection of timbers, leant up against the walls with pretty ridiculous prices marked on them in black marker pen. I’ve seen this kind of place before and frankly have avoided them ever since. This place was different. It was very different. The trade centre is big. It’s clean. The staff are super friendly and knowledgeable. It’s classy. It’s a bit of a wood lovers paradise really. There are racks and racks of timber. With each species clearly labelled and each board marked with a bar coded pricing system. These guys have clearly invested in this place and it showed.

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So apart from being big, clean and impeccably tidy what makes this place special. Well from my perspective it’s all about the ease of access to such a fine selection of timbers. We’ve all been to large scale timber merchants before where the guys in the yard are having to fork lift pack after pack out of the racks for you. They’re getting frustrated because time is ticking and you’re getting frustrated because you’re not finding what you want. It’s a tricky situation. You know that time is money for them and yet in order to make beautiful bespoke furniture you need to source the finest of timber. Well this set up at the trade centre is the perfect solution. You can spend as much time as you want hand selecting from the extensive stocks on the hand selection racks but you also have access to the vast array of additional stocks in the main sheds if you need it. What’s more the prices are good also. If you have a trade account the pricing in the trade centre is the same as that in the bulk sales department. Now that is a game changer. It makes Duffield timber stand head and shoulders above any other timber merchant that I’ve visited since starting this workshop back in 2006.

Well I think you can tell that I fell for the place. I did, and when I find something as good as this I am more than happy to try and spread the word. When people invest in quality like the guys at Duffield have they deserve to succeed.

Long may it continue.

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1 WEEK TASTER COURSE

 

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We have settled on dates for our 2017 taster courses and are now taking bookings for both the week commencing the 10th of April and the week commencing the 21st of August.

These intensive one week courses concentrate solely on the use of hand tools and the development of what we describe as the core skills of the cabinet maker. Precision preparation and sharpening of hand planes and chisels are the starting point. Planing, chisel work and accurate marking and measuring follow with the culmination being the cutting of dovetail joints.

Whether you are a complete beginner or experienced amateur woodworker we can guarantee a massive amount of learning and a pile of beautiful fine wood shavings.

Places are limited so do get in touch and book early to avoid disappointment.

Call Oliver or Will on 01539 822 852 or email info@watersandacland.co.uk for further details.

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Dovetails, dovetails, dovetails….

Our new designer maker students have been committing themselves to mastering the core woodworking handskills since joining us at the start of September. Each project in this early phase of the course builds towards one thing… Cutting perfect dovetails. Dovetails are a real challenge and they really do test the essential core handskills. Accurate preparation of stock. Accurate marking. Skill with a hand saw. The ability to pare with a razor sharp chisel. If you can cut crisp dovetails then you are well on your way to becoming an accomplished furniture maker and I’m pleased to say we have had some pretty stunning results so far…

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Student Feedback

Feedback from Andrew…

It’s so nice to receive feedback from our students. Andrew spent a month in the workshop and really made the most of his time. He clearly had fun but he also knuckled down to some serious learning. Listening intently to head tutor Graham and following this up with some deep and concentrated practise.

 

Thanks for your kind words Andrew and we really do look forward to your return next summer.

 

Hi Will and Oliver,

It is too long since I left the school to be replying to thank you.
My excuse is that I wanted to include a few pictures of the goodies I brought home,
but as those pictures are still in my head rather than the camera I am writing briefly anyway!
Your school is outstanding. If I tried very hard to find a criticism, I would still fail. You combine
a quiet, efficient infrastructure with a friendly, positive atmosphere and truly outstanding tuition.
In Graham you have a real gem of a teacher who has the ability of a chess grand master to go round
all the different benches, instantly picking up the present and next required actions. And also,
sadly for me, the action you just forgot to do!
I am full of motivation, my order of tools has arrived from Classic Hand Tools. I will practice hard, and look forward to
another month with you next July. (Which reminds me – do you need a deposit to confirm?)
I will still send the pictures. In particular, I have plans for the Chinese puzzle which may
amuse / horrify you!
Please give my best wishes to Graham and everyone else. I follow you IG feed avidly!
All the best
Andrew
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Summer Courses

Summer Courses

This summer we are running a series of 1 week taster courses. These courses are a fantastic opportunity for total beginners through to experienced furniture makers to spend time in our furniture school, to master new skills and to make a big pile of perfect whispy shavings. It really doesn’t matter if you have picked up a plane or chisel before as the course starts from the very beginning. Concentrating exclusively on hand tools our head tutor Graham Loveridge will teach you how to prepare tools to work at the very highest level. His incredibly high standards are infectious and we pride ourselves on the standards achieved by our students.

“My hand tool skills seemed to leap ahead almost hourly with Grahams help and guidance. The dovetails I made are sitting on my desk here and I can’t quite believe that it’s my own work”. Ian Adams, South Africa.

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During your week in the workshop you will be guided through the complex but essential skill of preparing planes and chisels for use. You will then follow our set projects that introduce the core hand skills in a straight forward yet inspiring way. Each project introducing new skills whilst bedding in those just learnt. This isn’t about making things quickly. It’s about making things well. About hitting professional standards and aiming for what is our workshop motto. ‘Perfection in the making’.

“I am delighted to say that the course met all my needs. In Graham you have someone very special. He is a great patient teacher and he is clearly a master craftsman at the top of his game. It was good to spend a week working with him on the set projects, 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 set for himself, then for me to strive to meet these and get his honest feedback. Sensing when Graham was happy with my work and when he was not and 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 really impressed with the way Graham adjusted his teaching to suit the skill level of the students on the course and allowed each student to move through the set projects at their own pace.” David Waite, UK.

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So why not give it a go. We have places available on the weeks commencing the 18th and 25th of July as well as the 15th and 22nd of August. Please don’t hesitate in giving us a call if you would like to know more.

“I think you know I was thrilled with the course. 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.” David Waite, UK.

For further details take a look at the course pages of our website. Give us a call on 01539 822852, or email info@watersandand.co.uk

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We look forward to hearing from you and maybe welcoming some of you onto the summer craftsmanship taster courses.