Chair making on Camb/Suffolk border

Friday evening and ready to load the car and head home.


This is a 5-day course and is held at our workshops in a relaxing rural setting on the Cambridgeshire/Suffolk border.
The course sees attendees make a traditional armchair of similar design to a Welsh stick chair. This is done using a combination of hand tools and machines, however the emphasis is on hand tools and traditional methods. This is a variation on a traditional Welsh stick chair design but with a contemporary twist. This chair really shows off wood and it’s natural beauty combined with your individual handmade influence.

The course is for a maximum of 3 people to ensure we can focus on delivering quality tuition and support you to the full. The course is run over 5 days and there are milestones to hit each day to ensure the chair is completed. This will all be covered when we have the briefing/introduction over a cup of tea on the first morning.

On arrival you will have your own bench to work at and your timber pack on top ready get started. The workshop is well equipped and with a small group everyone soon gets to know each other quickly and we all help each other at various times.

This course is suitable for intermediate level as some basic woodworking skills are required. We do run a 1-day ‘Introduction to woodwork’ course and if anyone books an introductory course and chair-making course we can arrange a discount. If you want to discuss the skill/experience level required, please contact us as we will always try and be flexible where possible.

You will use the following timbers to make you chair: Legs, seat, spindles in Ash. Armbow and crest rail (head rest) in oak. The legs and spindles are secured with oak wedges, the contrast between the oak and ash is lovely particularly when polished.
(Other timber options can be discussed in advance of the course if required)

During the course you will use templates, jigs, and your measuring & marking skills to the full. You will use traditional chair making tools like travishers, reamers, spoke shaves and rasps but you will also use the router, band-saw and lathe. As we approach the various processes of the build we will point out options and you can try different tools/methods, if you wish to.

The schedule is full but by the final day you will have a beautiful assembled chair that is fully functional, you can then work on the finer detail and the surface preparation. If you have time you can also start the surface finishing to bring out the lovely grain of the timber.

You will have a creative fun week in a relaxed professional workshop and meet new like minded people in the process.

The courses run 9.30am until 4.30pm Monday to Friday. However anyone wishing to make special arrangements for a course on a different date or involving a weekend should please contact us directly.
Please contact us if you have any questions.

Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 2 weeks before the course starts. Start dates may be amended on request.

What's included in the price?

All materials are included in the course price and all tools provided to complete the project.
Tea, coffee & biscuits provided.
Please bring a packed lunch, there is a fridge available for storage.
Please wear clothes suitable for workshop including sturdy footwear.


Bill Ratcliffe at Craven Conservation and Restoration Ltd


The Workshop, Barcham Farm
Barcham Road, Soham

Suitable for

  • Adults
  • Intermediate level
  • Public transport
  • Seniors


5 days (9:30am to 4:30pm)

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In-person course
Ciaran - - #33206

The chair making course was great fun and even more informative, would recommend to anyone trying to improve their woodworking skills and will definitely be looking at other courses with Bill in the future

In-person course
Freddie Raymond - - #28949

I booked this course having been inspired by Bill's Introduction to Woodworking course and it delivered everything I had hoped for and more. The days were well-paced, low-pressure and offered lots of variety. When there were multiple options for how to achieve an effect, Bill would often take us through them, offering plenty of insight and useful advice. By the end, I was able to feel a real sense of achievement at having created the chair, but also some independence - as a complete novice except for this and the Introduction course, I still felt by the end that I could replicate the process decently and carry the skills over to many more woodworking projects to come. I would highly recommend this course. Tremendous fun!

In-person course
Keith Bickley - - #28812

This was a well paced and well thought out course. A relaxed, non pressured atmosphere led by an experienced craftsman. I already had some woodworking experience but I learned a lot; from detailed marking out to accurate planing, drilling and travishing-not a word one uses daily!
I travelled a long way to do this course and I will do so again for Bill’s next course.

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