About the Course
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.
If booking with a CraftCourses voucher for part or all of the course fee, please fill in the contact form above or telephone us. Your voucher code must be provided at the point of booking.
What's included in the price?
Basic materials are covered, but there will be an additional charge for the seat material. This will be £25-40, 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!
This was an excellent course and I thoroughly recommend it. As well as a beautiful chair I’ve come away with a whole new woodworking vocabulary and some wonderful memories of the pleasures of making something from scratch.
Ben was a fantastic teacher and struck a great balance between letting us get on with using our newly learnt skills and being on hand to lend support and give us reminders and tips.
I would definitely consider doing another course with Ben.
Claire - - #18734
I absolutely loved this course, Ben is a great teacher, if you’re thinking about making something with your own hands (completely hand-made) then you’ll be choosing the right place. Ben is on hand at all times to show you how to do each part of the piece of furniture, you don’t need any previous experience as every detail is explained beautifully. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this course and furthermore will be going back to make something else! Good luck and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Gavin - (chair making course autumn 2018)
Gavin - - #18661
I originally did a green wood turning course with Ben and loved it. I then signed up for the ten week chair making course. It was a small group of great people and Ben made us all welcome. He spent lots of time with us individually guiding us through each step of the process. The techniques were varied but all very achievable. The resulting chairs were all finished to a high standard and we were all left wanting more. Ben is flexible and really easy to work with and has even been known to give extra tuition for a packet of hobnobs.
Nick Rees - - #15800
Such a good course...I have in fact now signed up to build a second chair in August on one of Ben's courses in Wales.
You start with a couple of logs, and 10 weeks later you have a very smart-looking formal chair. You get to use loads of challenging hand tools, foot lathes, etc. All well explained and supported by Ben. A small class of 4 means you always get enough one-to-one tuition if you're stuck.
I really recommend it.
Alastair - - #15799
As soon as I found out about Ben and his London courses I was super keen to make a chair. Over the last ten weeks I have had a great time, met some lovely people, learnt lots of new skills and made a really beautiful chair.
Ben is an excellent teacher, giving you the freedom to work independently but always willing to help if you get in a pickle. His endless patience and positivity have made the course an absolute joy and I would really love to do another one soon.
Glenda Hall - - #15795
This is a great course, you learn how to use a range of woodworking tools and after just 10 weeks come away with a lovely chair. Ben is a patient teacher who clearly enjoys sharing his knowledge of traditional chair-making skills.
Lucy - - #14640
Really great green woodworking course. Ben is a really nice guy and everyone takes home a stunning ash chair. I was bought the course as a present and would definitely recommend it to others. Learned so much and cant wait to take on another woodworking project
Mike - - #14284
This is a brilliant course, divided into achievable weekly stages, all of which were really enjoyable. Ben is an excellent teacher, clear and also patient with anyone who is finding the new skills tricky to master. It opened my eyes on a whole new world. Try it! I would highly recommend the course and would love to do more myself.
Sarah Phillips - - #14247
I had never done woodwork before so was slightly nervous of being able to create a chair. However, Ben’s instruction, guidance and encouragement was excellent. He brought the skills to life and made every step achievable.
The chair making course is a wonderful contrast to daily life, and the simplicity of creating something from fresh logs is quite magical.
I would fully recommend the chair making course: the pace, step by step, the teaching and the measurable progress each week, culminating in the creation of a beautiful piece of furniture is excellent.
Thank you Ben!
Jim O'Donnell - - #13988
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.
James Fooks-Bale - - #10640
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.
Felicity - - #10275
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.
Matt F. - - #10061
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!
Nick Trowbridge - - #9391
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.
Elaine - - #9226
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.
Rob Navratil - - #9064
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!
Alan Cheadle - - #7722
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.
Terry Thomas - - #7612
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