London’s only dedicated greenwood chair-making course takes place over 12 weekly sessions; it’s a commitment, but in the end, you’ll have made your own Windsor-style chair and learned many new skills along the way.
You’ll learn how to fashion fresh timber, straight from the log, into billets for the chair’s main components – the legs, stretchers and spindles – using an axe, drawknife and spokeshave. Then you can try your hand at turning these parts on a traditional foot-powered lathe, a magical process that is thoroughly addictive. 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 comfortable 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.
This course will begin with a longer kick-off session on a Sunday afternoon from 2-530pm, then thereafter be run over 11 weekly Thursday evening sessions between 1900 and 2130.
Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 4 weeks before the course starts. Start dates may be amended on request.
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.
12 evenings (7:00pm to 9:30pm)
This craft course provider has been awarded Platinum status for receiving 50 or more 5 star ratings from previous students.
The Students' Choice award ensures that course providers get recognised for their efforts in the teaching and practice of UK craft.
They also allow tutors to gain valuable feedback on their courses and for new students to find the course that's right for them.
12 evenings (7:00pm to 9:30pm)
I’ve been looking at doing a furniture making course for a number of years, and I’m really happy I undertook it with Ben.
He’s really helpful from the outset, and a very good teacher who allows you the space to learn yet always being on hand if you need a little extra guidance.
I’ve taken home an incredible chair, which I will enjoy for many years to come. I’d definitely recommend the course to anyone, and I can’t wait to sign up to another.
Such a great course. I learned so much and Ben’s laid back approach makes it a really enjoyable experience. I can’t wait for the next course!
Had a great time making my beautiful new chair. Ben is an excellent tutor and his passion for green woodworking shines through. Would definitely recommend.
Just do it. I've now done a couple of courses with Ben and they've been ace. You learn so much over the 10 weeks, and Ben gives you the prefect balance of guidance and trust to try things out. After hectic days at work - doing woodwork is almost like going to therapy, it completely clears your head. I love it. I'll be signing up for more courses. Best investment I've made in a long time!
This is by far the best course I've been on. All aspects of the experience are excellent, and the end result is certainly something to be very proud of. Ben is great at letting the sessions flow, but is always on-hand if assistance is required.
It's no wonder Ben gets repeat customers, I'll certainly be one too!
I’ve recently completed Ben’s Windsor Chair course and I can thoroughly recommend it. I was a complete novice, but with Ben’s patience and step by step guidance I’ve finished the course with a beautiful chair... and I can't wait to make another!
Ben explains everything clearly and offers useful tips, but then he also gives you the space to figure it out for yourself. He’s always on hand for any questions or practical help too. Thank you, Ben!
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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.