Project Description



Furniture School FAQ’s

Do I need to have experience making furniture?

No. The  fine furniture making courses are all suitable for students of all abilities and levels of experience from total beginners to experienced makers wanting to take the pursuit of excellence to the next level. Tuition is matched to the individual and students are encouraged to work at their own pace, all with the common goal of mastering the art of fine furniture making.

What will I be making?

We have a range of Waters and Acland projects that guide the maker through various furniture making techniques and the use of relevant hand and machine tools. Early projects focus exclusively on mastering the use of hand tools whilst more advanced projects introduce the heavy machines and hand held power tools within our highly equipped workshop facilities. For those seeking to develop a furniture designing language of their own, all our projects can be redesigned by the individual with the resulting pieces forming an important part of an on going design portfolio.
For those on the designer makers course developing a design style is a key part of the tuition. Will Acland our designer will coach our students in all aspects of design and encourage individual design flair to be realised from week one.

How will I be taught to design furniture?

Will Acland our in house designer and CAD teacher will lead the teaching of design on all of our furniture courses. He will encourage students to develop their own style through design seminars and one on one design tutorials. Freehand drawing and the use of CAD for 3D design are both taught, with Holly Acland also holding still life drawing classes for those on the longer format courses.

Design is a massive part of the Designer Maker courses and we take it seriously and devote lot’s of time to its teaching. We teach design as a process and feel strongly that by following this process everyone who spends time at the school can become a proficient furniture designer with a style of their own.

The best evidence of this can be seen  by taking  a look through the student testimonials and student archive pages. The work is truly stunning.

Do you teach CAD (Computer Aided Design)?

As a Designer Maker in the 21st century it is vital that you learn how to use CAD software in order to realise your designs in 3D and also to produce workshop drawings. Will Acland leads on this area of the course. The CAD teaching begins in small groups before moving to regular one on one tutorials. These tutorials continue throughout the course and Will is available most days to help with technical problems and to encourage you to push your CAD skills forward.

We feel strongly that CAD training is carried out in house and by a member of the team that is available for consultation as much as possible. It’s a tricky thing to learn and so often just a 10 minute one on one session can make the world of difference.

Do students get involved with social media?

There is certainly no requirement for our students to engage with social media but there are certainly reasons why they should. Firstly it’s a lot of fun. It also allows you to engage with a worldwide community of designers and makers who share your same passion. Importantly it’s also part of a modern marketing plan. A number of our students have used their time in the school to build a social media presence with some gaining thousands of Instagram followers in a matter of months. This may sound trivial but this social media presence can help with future online marketing strategies. It feeds people towards websites and it is also an opportunity to sell direct. If nothing else it forms a great record of many of the things you learn along the way.

I’m not very good at drawing. Is this a problem?

If design is not what you have come to learn there are numerous pre designed Waters and Acland projects that can be followed. These projects are pecifically designed to test the makers skills, and to introduce new techniques as the course develops.
For those with aspirations to design, but with little experience then every effort will be made to bring out the designer in all. Still life lessons are held by Holly Acland who is a professional fashion illustrator and lecturer. She will encourage even the least experienced student to sketch more often and better. Will Acland also teaches freehand sketching but in addition runs one on one tutorials in computer aided design (CAD). CAD skills are a great opportunity for those with little drawing experience to realise their design potential.

Will I be able to start my own business after the course?

Oliver Waters is proof that a 1 year intensive fine furniture making course followed by determination and hard work can lead to the establishment of a successful fine furniture making business. He is determined to learn from his experience of furniture making courses both good and bad to provide the very best fine furniture School in the country. A school with fine  furniture making courses dedicated to creating the designer makers of the future.

A number of our previous students have established successful businesses following on from the Designer Maker Course. We would never suggest this is easy but we are determined to help and feel proud of our record in helping students fulfil their furniture making ambitions.

Do we get to see commercial projects being designed and made?

Designing and making for private clients is still an important part of Waters and Acland Ltd. All commissions can be seen by our students as they develop and we often take the opportunity to talk through projects when they are at interesting stages of development.

How many students are there?

We feel passionately that to provide top quality teaching, student numbers need to be restricted and that a really good student to tutor ratio maintained. Our student bench room is designed to accommodate a maximum of 12 students and with four  tutors we can assure you dedicated provision.

Do you focus on hand skills?

By dedicating the early parts of of the course to mastering the core hand skills our students gain an affinity with the beautiful yet complex material that is wood. By hand planing and chiselling to exacting standards our students gain knowledge and skills that will last a lifetime whilst allowing them to hit the incredibly high standards that we aspire too. We are not naive however and we also recognise the importance of the use of machine tools and digital woodworking technology. We teach the use of these and we take that equally seriously. From the world class fixed and portable machines found throughout the school to the use of cutting edge CAD technology we strive to use the most suitable techniques and tools to get the job done.

What we do know however is that this may the only time in our students making life that they get to commit such focus on hand skills. These skills form the basis on which a fine furniture makers skills grow. This is why we are unashamedly passionate about teaching the use of hand tools to exacting standards. Employers crave it. Makers need it. And we deliver it.

Is the focus on wood or do you encourage the use of mixed materials?

We certainly allow our students to integrate materials other than wood when the design benefits from it but we unashamedly focus our attention on mastering the techniques of the cabinet maker. With just a year to learn as much as you can and so many techniques to cover we simply don’t believe a students time is best served with the distraction of mixed materials. Solid wood joinery, laminating of many kinds, complex jig creation, veneering, marquetry, hand shaping…. the list is massive and so our focus is on the magnificent and complex world of furniture making utilising the most beautiful and sustainable material of all, wood.

Having discussed this topic with a number of leading employers we have also concluded that potential employers feel our approach is the right one. Our students leave the school with a high level of skill in all the core disciplines. These skills are hard earned and distracting this concentrated learning just doesn’t feel sensible.

It takes thousands of hours practise to become a skilled cabinet maker. Focus is what it is all about.

When do the courses start?

Long format courses start in January, September and occasionally after the Easter break in April / May. They often fill up 9-12 months in advance however so do get in touch for current availability.

Short courses run throughout the year.

What is there to do in my spare time?

There is no shortage of extra curricular activities in this part of the world. 16 million visitors a year are testament to the Lake District National Parks appeal. From the great outdoors to the culture packed programme of comedy, art and dance at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal there is plenty of choice.
Some of the finest fell walking and bike trails are available, literally from the doorstep of the workshop.

The Lake District is just awesome!

Is it easy to get to the workshop and furniture school?

Our workshop is conveniently situated just 10 minutes off the M6 and just 4 miles from both Kendal and Windermere with regular bus and train services from both.

Many of our students cycle to the workshop and it’s a beautiful route from all the nearby towns and villages.

Do you accept International students?

The school has a vibrant, diverse and very international feel. Approximately 20% of our students are from overseas with many previous students joining us from the US, Australia, many European countries, Hong Kong, New Zealand.. The list is extensive. It’s very important to note however that we are not a Tier 4 registered school (none of the English private woodwork schools are) and thus you will not be able to acquire a student visa. Many students have other means of gaining a visa for the duration of their course and do feel free to contact us with any questions. We will try our best to guide you but it is ultimately the responsibility of the students to gain a relevant visa.

Where would I stay during the course?

A number of rental properties are available in the local area for those on the long format courses whilst hotels and B and B’s exist throughout the South Lakes with pricing to match any budget.

We try our best to help students find suitable accommodation and often new students take over rental from those leaving.

How are the fees paid?

Pricing and terms and conditions are available on the furniture courses page of the site. Alternatively, contact us or download our application form.

If you have any questions that aren’t covered in this section please do get in touch and we will be happy to answer as best we can. And why not go one step further and arrange a visit to the workshop and school or if more convenient a zoom call. Please contact us via email to arrange a visit or zoom meeting. We are so proud of what we have created and are always delighted to show it off to anyone considering spending time with us. Speak soon.