Fine furniture maker, furniture making training courses, bespoke furniture, cabinetmaking training

40 Week Comprehensive Course

From Complete Beginner to Skilled Furniture Maker in 40 Week Course

This is an intensive furniture and cabinet-making course for applicants from a wide variety of backgrounds – ranging from young adults looking to start a profession in furnituremaking, through men and women of all ages seeking a career-change, to mature students equipping themselves for an active and creative retirement.

I’ve been teaching for the last ten years alongside my own work as a designer-maker, and have devised and refined this very thorough course to ensure all students acquire the necessary balance of exacting technical and creative skills to ensure well-founded careers as furniture and cabinetmakers.


The course programme – which doesn’t require any previous experience – first teaches students the accurate use of hand-tools and woodworking machinery, then develops the full range of fine furniture joinery, finishing and cabinetmaking techniques.


Beyond these core craft and making skills, the course also teaches a wide range of creative design and business skills. This enables students to set up their own workshops with confidence in their understanding of the whole framework of designing, making and selling fine furniture.

With a maximum of up to four students a year (giving the benefit of a very close teacher-student instruction), the course is full-time for 40 weeks, running from September to July each year.


Part 1 – Furnituremaking Tools & Techniques


The first part of the furniture and cabinet making course introduces a wide range of fundamental skills through hands-on tuition, and then develops these through project-led learning:

  • tuning, sharpening & use of traditional hand-tools
  • accurate operation of woodworking machinery
  • hardwood selection and characteristics
  • joinery, frame & cabinet construction
  • shaping, laminating & veneering
  • traditional and modern finishing techniques
  • workshop aids and jigs
  • technical and creative drawing skills


Your first hardwood project is to make a small fine box with handcut dovetails, which prepares you for precision making. As well as being a beautiful object in it own right, making this box will give you early confidence in your newfound skills and abilities.


You will then make your own high-quality workbench, which is approached with the same care as any piece of fine furniture, and which will stand you in good stead for your entire future as a furniture designer-maker.

During this first part of the course you will achieve a high level of understanding of the fundamental techniques of fine furnituremaking, and acquire dexterity in making that will enable you to work to high standards of precision, slowly at first but very accurately.


Part 2 – Design & Making of Portfolio Pieces


The second part of the course extends your craft and making skills and speed, encourages and develops your design abilities, and facilitates your transition towards professional furnituremaking. This is achieved through the design and making of two portfolio pieces.

Your first project is a freestanding or wall-hung cabinet of traditional solid wood furniture construction, with dovetailed drawers, frame and panel doors, veneering, high-quality hardware and hand-finishing.


The design for your cabinet will be your own, but a significant purpose of this project is to help you learn how to resolve an initial idea into a good final design, which you will then make as a piece of fine furniture.

Your second project will be to make a chair, again to your own design. As well as incorporating further techniques (shaping, laminating, etc), this project provides an opportunity to extend your creative and making skills more widely.

By this stage of the course you will not only find yourself working fluently and efficiently with hand-tools and machinery, but you will automatically be identifying the right craft solution to each technical challenge.


Professional Business & Marketing Skills


During the second half of the course, you will also be formulating a plan for the development of your furnituremaking career, and an increasing proportion of my teaching will be in guiding you through:

  • project costing and presentation work
  • marketing, exhibiting and client-relations
  • business planning, funding and time-management
  • setting up a workshop
  • acquiring equipment & machinery
  • various aspects of professional self-employment.


A great deal of what you will learn from me – relating directly to my own experiences and current projects – will come from informal lunch-break conversation throughout the course, as well as through formal teaching.


Every student has a different idea of how they see themselves working after the course. Most wish to set up as furniture designer-makers, while some might prefer to start working for other designers, especially in the early years of their career – and part of my role will be to help you to identify the best initial route to take.

See Recent Students Profiles and Testimonials.