Course Start Dates
Course dates are flexible; please get in touch for the next available date.
London’s only dedicated greenwood chair-making course…. Run over 10 weekday evenings, it’s a commitment, but at the end you’ll have made your own simple Windsor-style chair.
You’ll learn how to fashion fresh timber, straight from the log, into the chair’s main components – the legs, stretchers and spindles – using axe, drawknife and spokeshave. For the more adventurous, or for those who’ve taken part in my introductory courses, you can try your hand at turning these parts on a traditional foot-powered lathe. You’ll then make your seat, using traditional ‘bottoming’ tools including the adze and travisher. Then it’s time for some bending – using steam and a bit of magic to bend the comb (top bit) of your chair to a nice head-cradling curve.
After a bit of jiggery-pokery to put it all together, you’ll have made your own heirloom and probably won some admirers in the process.
Ben Willis was mentored by the green woodworking legend Mike Abbott. He has been making chairs and other green-wood furniture for over 10 years.
What's included in the price?
Basic materials are covered, but there will be an additional charge for the seat material. This will be £20-30, depending on what I have in stock at the time.
Tea, coffee, biscuits and occasionally cake will be supplied.
I will be offering catch up sessions for £25 a go if you miss any classes, to make sure you get over the line!
Ben's stool course was a great taster and I later took the chair course as a follow up. It was the perfect antidote to the daily grind, fully recommend it to anyone whether you're a beginner or know more.
Ben’s chair course was absolutely brilliant. It’s a great way to spend the evening, learning about green woodworking and putting your new found knowledge into practice. Each session passed in the blink of an eye, all the while having a good laugh. Ben’s a great teacher, and if you get stuck will help you out as much as needed, all with a smile.
I’d recommend this without hesitation, and second the many positive comments in the other reviews.
What a great way to spend a series of evenings! Learning new skills, using only hand tools, with like minded people and a patient, knowledgeable teacher. Incredible! The beautiful hand finished chair is a great result. My toddler has found her new perch and loves sitting on the chair and feling its texture. I may have to return to finish a set...
A great gift to give or course to complete in the heart of Crystal Palace. I couldn't recommended Ben's course enough.
This really is a superb course for anyone who is interested in wood work. Ben is an excellent teacher who allows you to get on with the task independently whilst ensuring a watching eye is kept over each student to make sure you don't mess it up. The time just flies along and you come away with a creation which you can be really proud of.
During the course you will learn all sorts of techniques in Green wood working and you will become hooked- I have even bought my own tools! It is such a relaxing atmosphere in his workshop and I looked forward to my lessons each week and the progress we would make. 10/10!
I loved every second of my making my beautiful chair with Ben.
I'd highly recommend the course to anyone who is craving getting stuck in with a hands-on project and creating something truly special. Building the chair with only hand tools was hard work on the muscles at times, but incredibly satisfying and much more fun than the gym! The tools, techniques and and the different woods were all an absolute pleasure to work with and I've come away really proud of what I achieved. Thanks again Ben!
If you're umm-ing and arr-ing about signing up, just go for it, it really is a brilliant course.
I’ve had a long fascination with woodwork but hadn’t remotely considered taking a course to do it properly. I found a furniture making course a few years ago and loved it so was itching to do something new. I visited Ben at his workshop for a chat and was immediately inspired by a Rocking Chair he had up in the final stages of assembly. It didn’t take me long to sign up to one of his courses, it was just a case of which one.
Being a complete novice with green wood, I, and I’m sure my follow students wanted to get cracking but Ben took his time to explain the intricacies of splitting a log and all subsequent techniques as they came up. It’s easy for a teacher to just say “do it like this’ but I felt I really learned a lot about the tree itself and this informs your decisions further on in the project. To the extent that I’d be confident to try and start a project on my own at home.
Ben is fantastic teacher and has a very serene atmosphere to his workshop. A lusty blow too many with a gouge and he’s there with an encouraging word.
I have found working wood with hand tools so satisfying and it engages all your senses, yes even taste (keep your mouth shut when using the lathe)
Looking at a Windsor Chair can look quite daunting but I would say go for it and push yourself. The results are absolutely worth it. I could feel and see the improvements over the 10 weeks and I now have a piece of furniture that will last a lifetime. When I look at it I know every single joint and component I made myself, such a great feeling.
Thanks for an excellent 10 weeks Ben, I’ve learned so much and would recommend to anyone to give it go.
My wife encouraged me to sign up to an introductory green woodworking course last June, where I met Ben and found a real interest in woodworking that I had no experience in. He is a great teacher and got the best out of us and we all came away with a spatula and rolling pin. Fast forward through the 2 weekend stool making class and recent 10 week chair making course and I've come away not only with some nice pieces of furniture, but an appreciation and understanding of working with different types of wood, some very cool hand tools, and a new love of building with my hands from scratch. Whether you want to take on a completely new challenge and set of skills, have a bit of good fun, and/or add a bit of nice furniture to your collection - I highly recommend this course with Ben!
It all started when my children bought me the stool making course for fathers day. It was great fun. Ben is an excellent teacher with a wealth of knowledge. He is also very personable and made sure everyone got the time and attention they needed to complete their project. After two Saturdays I came away with a great stool and trust for more.
I had been searching for a creative outlet for years now and this really fitted the bill. So much so I booked myself on the chair making course and loved every minute of it. I have come away confident enough to start making chairs on my own. Ben continued to be a help after the course with reminders and tips via email. I don't think there is anything else like it in London.