One-day woodcarving for beginners

A beautiful oak curl


Are you a beginner wanting to learn the basics of woodcarving and create your very own carvings? This one-day course provides a fun and relaxed way to learn this ancient craft with award-winning local woodcarver William Barsley. You will take home your own carving of a decorative leaf or flower to proudly show friends and family.

Group size is limited to 5 participants to ensure you feel fully supported throughout the day. You can either book as a private group of 5 or join an existing group as an individual. Minimum class size of 3.

This course is aimed at the complete beginner - you really don’t need to have any experience of woodcarving at all. It’s also suitable if you’ve dabbled in carving before - we can focus on building on your existing skills. The course is carefully structured to build your confidence throughout the day and you will leave feeling that you can undertake your own carvings at home. It is always amazing to see what can be achieved in a day!


- How to sharpen and use carving chisels most effectively
- How to draw and transfer your design onto wood
- Which type of wood to carve when and why
- Carving techniques to bring your work to life, with the focus on shallow relief carving, which enables you to decorate any surface
- Tips to reduce mistakes
- Different ways to protect and seal your carvings

Course tutor William Barsley has extensive woodcarving experience including working on the Houses of Parliament restoration. William was classically trained in Historic Woodcarving and Gilding at the prestigious City and Guilds of London Art School. Passionate about teaching, William enjoys nothing more than helping others to learn the beautiful art of carving. His friendly and open approach allows students to ask questions, develop their abilities and - most importantly - to enjoy the process.

The course is run at William’s workshop in the heart of Dartington in Devon, with the famous Dartington Hall Estate and Cider Press just a 10-minute walk away and the beautiful town of Totnes only a 5-minute drive.

You will leave the course understanding the basics of woodcarving and knowing how to further develop these skills safely and effectively in your own time. You will also, of course, take home the piece you will have made during the day.

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 timber and tools required on the day. A limewood blank to take home and a series of design ideas to help your practice. Cakes, tea and coffee to keep you fuelled throughout the day.

Besides an open mind and plenty of enthusiasm, the only thing you need to bring is a packed lunch which, if weather permits, can be enjoyed on the green just a stone’s throw from the workshop.


William Barsley


Unit 4
Webbers Yard Industrial Estate, Dartington

Suitable for

  • Adults
  • Christmas
  • Corporate days out & team building
  • Easter
  • Engagement, birthdays & anniversaries
  • Father's Day
  • Hen dos
  • Intermediate level
  • Mother's Day
  • Public transport
  • Romantic
  • School holiday workshops & activities
  • Seniors
  • Stag dos
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Teenagers
  • UK Holiday


1 day (10:00am to 4:30pm)

Gold Badge
What does this mean?

This craft course provider has been awarded Gold status for receiving 10 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.


In-person course
Martin - - #35823

Will has extensive knowledge and experience of carving. More importantly, he is willing and able to teach the subject. Prior to the course, I was asked for some information on my past experience, I described this and explained the specific area of carving I was interested in. I came away with knowledge and experience of the area i was interested in, and with the course content that had already been prepared. Many thanks Will.

In-person course
JUNE THOMPSON - - #35809

Very interesting course. William is very knowledgeable, amazing to see the work he has done/doing. Lovely relaxed atmosphere, once the basics were shown we were left to try a sample square..attentive but not in a fussy way. Felt able to ask questions, all were answered politely, with ease and humour.
Great day, thoroughly enjoyed it. There were only 2 of us and we were both at the same level...never having done carving before.!
Would love to go back again once I have had some practice at home...
Recommend it.

In-person course
Kay Barber - - #35489

What a fantastic day..." time flies when you're enjoying yourself"...I felt like I was there an hour or so! Will is a great teacher, very calm, happy, covering all basic aspects for your budding future in woodcarving. I came away not only inspired but full of enthusiasm to pick up those gouges and get cracking! As Will said look out driftwood ...oh yes here I come! Thank you Will I highly recommend it to all. PS Forgot to mention the tea and pastries (made freshly from the local baker)! Oh, I wish I wasn't Gluten Free!!

In-person course
Steve Hart - - #35412

I attended the course with a list of questions built up from reading and watching YouTube and looking for an introduction to carving. I really got into it, enabled by Will’s instruction , explanations, encouragement and patience we got so engrossed the day flew by and I wanted to book for more. Next time down I will be back.
If an introduction is what you are looking for then I highly recommend Will, I am also confident that in our short time with him we hardly dented his depth of knowledge or instruction capability.

In-person course
Mona and Tim - - #34838

We've had a one day course with Will on an off-grid retreat and it was so brilliant. We both never done anything like that before but Will was so good at putting us at ease, explaining the technique and making it so fun and lovely, letting us be creative!!! The few hours flew by and we had amazing little coasters, hand carved, by the end of it. We wish Will all the best in Devon and we can recommend his courses to anyone who's interested in wood carving or just want to try something new!

In-person course
Becky - - #34734

Will is an excellent teacher, I had no previous woodcarving experience but learnt alot about the different tools and techniques needed to get started with woodcarving. Will was very patient and was more than happy to answer any questions and give suggestions around design. There were a few of us in the group but Will gave us all one on one guidance throughout the day. I had an excellent day and came away with something I was very happy with. For anyone looking for a woodcarving course, I couldn't recommend Will enough!

In-person course
Ellie - - #34733

I completed a woodcarving course with Will and was blown away by his carving skills, his knowledge about the craft and his ability to teach a complete novice how to use the tools. He was incredibly patient throughout the day, and guided me to produce a letter carving I was thrilled with. I thoroughly recommend Will to anyone out there with little, or no knowledge of woodcarving, that wants to give it a go. Thank you Will. I shall definitely be back for another day carving with you soon.

In-person course
Danny Danjuma - - #34732

One of the most amazing courses I’ve taken, from the friendly and focused attention of the facilitator to the free yet safe feeling in the opportunity to create, I’ll definitely be looking to take up wood carving after this. Can’t recommend this enough!

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