Your tutor will guide you through the process from selecting a log through to a completed spoon.
Originally trained as a carpenter/joiner, Mark has worked as an eco-builder, sustainable construction consultant and trainer. He has a degree in Environmental Sciences, obtained a post graduate diploma from the Centre of Alternative Technology.
He now owns and lives in 23 acres (the venue) of woodland practicing green woodworking and sustainable woodland management.
The session includes:
* Tool review - an overview of the various tools available for spoon carving and similar projects
* Timber selection - what type of wood and what parts of the log are best and what to avoid
* Spoon design - overview of the proportions and features of spoons for different uses
* Cleaving/splitting timber - use of axe and froe for reducing thickness of wood
* Safe and effective axe and knife skills - demonstration and practicing numerous axe and knife techniques to enable you shape timber
* Finishes - information of various types of product to protect
At the end of the session you will leave with all your fingers, a spoon and the confidence to carve on your own. The classes are hosted within an ancient woodland site. The class is a perfect starting point for anyone thinking about taking up green woodworking or spoon carving and for novice spoon carvers wishing to improve.
There is a maximum of 5 places per class. If none of the dates suit get in touch as we can often arrange bespoke classes.
About the venue:
When the weather permits the classes will be held in a semi-covered woodland clearing, at other times in a well equipped workshop, situated in 23 acres of ancient woodland in the Elham valley area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).
The woodland is managed to continuously supply timber as a material and fuel, to enhance biodiversity and natural stability and for amenity value.
Please click the "message the tutor" button to get in touch for booking details and to enquire about the availability of places.
I typically reply within hours - please check your spam folder if you don't receive a reply.
Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 4 weeks before the course starts. Start dates may be amended on request.
Use of tools
Wood for carving
Refreshments - Tea, Coffee, Biscuits etc
Lunch - Homemade and local produce, will cater for dietary requirements
1 day (9:30am to 5:00pm)
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.
1 day (9:30am to 5:00pm)
I booked this course on the strength of the reviews and I just wanted to take time to echo what others have said!
The course exceeded all expectations. Mark was a very welcoming and knowledgable host who had set up his 'workshop' with care. Everything had been set out and was explained, allowing us to learn about the craft of green woodwork, not just to create the final object. This time of year (April) his woodland was looking beautiful, and we worked with a 360 degree view of bluebells and woodland anemones. There was a perfect balance of instruction and practical, with Mark always on hand to support. The benefit of learning in a small group was we all got a great deal of individual attention.
Lunch, provided by Christina, was delicious. Home made soup, cake and coffee at the dining room of their home was a real highlight of my day, and allowed us to get to know the other people and to hear about Mark's future plans. An after-lunch stroll around the woodland was a lovely touch too, allowed us to appreciate the environment and hear about woodland management.
The afternoon flew past as we were so focussed on creating our spoons! We left with not only a spoon, but also knowledge of how to make another, tips and techniques and felt very inspired thanks to Mark's enthusiasm and passion.
I completed this with my 14 year old son (his choice of birthday present for himself!) Mark was very patient with us both and I would highly recommended this course, for young or old. A fabulous day and one we will remember for the rest of our lives.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Hannah, thank you so much for the lovely review.
Superb setting. Perfect working space, with everything needed at hand. Utterly professional instruction, delivered with warmth and enthusiasm. A really good day... and I had a spoon at the end of it!
Response from Walderchain Wood:James
I have to echo all the previous reviews on this site, I had a completely enthralling day learning about spoon-carving with Mark in a magical location. Mark’s passion for woodcraft and the woodland flora and fauna comes across from the moment you meet him. As a teacher Mark is a consummate professional, starting with an overview of the tools used and giving just the right level of guidance at the start of each stage and being there when you needed further guidance or help. Lunch followed by cake, prepared by Cristina, his partner, was really, really tasty. I finished the day totally relaxed with a passable spoon. The follow-up information provided by Mark after the class included a good range of resources and information. To summarise, great teaching, wonderful location and good food.
Many thanks, Simon
Response from Walderchain Wood:Simon
A brilliant day with clear instruction in beautiful surroundings - and a spoon to go home with!
Response from Walderchain Wood:Anne
A wonderful day in a beautiful setting, fantastic teaching and delicious lunch in the sun. At the end of the day a spoon in my hand..such a great sense of achievement! Well worth it..now to order some tools!
Response from Walderchain Wood:Rebecca
Such a great day.
Beautiful setting, inspiring teacher, interesting little dog and delicious lunch.
And of course therapeutic wood carving.
What else could you ask for?
Response from Walderchain Wood:Vikki,
Beautiful setting, clear excellent instruction, tasty lunch AND you walk away with a spoon and all your fingers. That's about as good it gets, isn't it? Thank you Mark.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Well we like to think so - Cheers Dan
Had a really great day spoon carving. Mark was a great teacher, learning how to use the various tools safely. Lunch was really nice, home made. Would really recommend for a day out with a difference. 5 stars
Response from Walderchain Wood:Glad to hear you had a great day Eric and thank you for review.
Great day spent learning about and practicing with the materials tools and techniques of carving. Mark was a great host and very patient. Lunch was fabulous and dietary needs catered for brilliantly. Would definitely recommend! Thank you
Response from Walderchain Wood:Hi Nikki
We had a great day making spoons at the wood yesterday. Mark was a terrific host. Very patient and accommodating. Jill was lovely too and makes a great cake. Thoroughly enjoyed the day.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Hi Phil
James and I had a wonderful time learning the skill of spoon carving at Walderchain Wood. It is a beautiful, tranquil setting and with Mark's expertise we were able to go home with a freshly carved spoon each and the confidence to give it another go on our own! Christina provided us with a beautiful homemade veggie/vegan meal and a delicious chocolate cake for afters! This really is a wonderful setting to reset your mind and channel your focus on something new in the great outdoors. We are excited to get stuck in on other projects and will definitely be back if future courses are available. Thank you both!
Response from Walderchain Wood:Lisa,
We did this class as a family of four. We had a brilliant day in the woods,under a parachute tent, with a log fire and our teacher Mark. Mark was very knowledgeable and gave us great instruction to be able to make our spoons. He was very encouraging and took us through each step so that we felt we could achieve the result we wanted. Lunch was a wonderful meal of fresh bread and lovely home made salads, with coffee and cake for dessert. All in all a great experience that I would thoroughly recommend.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Sandra
Absolutely loved spending a day in the beautiful Walderchain woods (June 2021) and hope to go back for another course one day. Mark was an excellent teacher - super knowledgeable and friendly. The peaceful camp, tea brewed on the fire, sounds of the woodland - all made for a fantastic experience. I would thoroughly recommend to anyone who is curious about spoon carving or has already had a go and wants to improve. Lunch was also top class :)
Response from Walderchain Wood:Hi Kate
A great day. Friendly and relaxed atmosphere and a lot of help and support carving the spoons using an axe - a very different technique for me having only used knives. Thoroughly recommended.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Hi Sylvia
I arrived as a complete beginner, after a day of tuition from Mark I feel confident to purchase some tools and start carving spoons at home. The whole day was fantastic, Mark is an excellent teacher and explained every step of the process very clearly. There was plenty of opportunity to try a variety of different tools and Mark gave good advice on how to use them correctly and safely. I look forward to learning more if the opportunity arises for a follow on course.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Hi Helen
Did this course today and would fully recommend it. Mark is extremely knowledgeable and was able to work with multiple students all having different abilities and strengths.
The day goes so fast being set in a beautiful woodland where you can concentrate on carving and take on the instructions that Mark gives you to improve your technique.
The lunch provided was amazing, always eat the cake :D
Response from Walderchain Wood:Adam, thank you for taking the time to leave feedback. Glad to hear you enjoyed the day.
Secluded wood, 50 mph winds with strangers euipped with axes and knives. Not a horror story but just a great day of spoon carving with Mark Saich.
Course moved into the barn with a wood burner. Mark is an excellent tutor allowing the delegates to get on with their spoon. Clear explanations and always emphasising the safety aspects of using the various tools.
Mark was also very mindful of covid regulations.
No hesitation in recommending this course to anyone who is interested in working with greenwood or just looking for a new hobby that allows you to unwind.
Cristina provided an excellent lunch, thank you.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Martin
I really enjoyed this spoon carving day course. Mark the instructor is a wealth of knowledge on the subject and I had a great day. Would recommend and do it again.
All the best from Kat Trotter
Response from Walderchain Wood:Katherine, thank you for joining us and glad you had a great day.
Fantastic course in a beautiful place with excellent tuition. Mark is a very experienced and attentive teacher with a real passion for his craft. As beginners, for us it was an excellent introduction to using a range of tools and working with greenwood. Lunch was delicious. We came away very inspired to do more. Would highly recommend.
Lynn and Chris
Response from Walderchain Wood:Hi, thank you for joining us and glad to hear you enjoyed the day.
Both myself and my girlfriend had an an amazing day carving spoons with Mark. It was both our first time trying this out and we fell in love with it!! Everything was very well organised, professional and very safe. We would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to immerse themselves in nature and experience a rewarding activity. We hope to go back ASAP!!
Response from Walderchain Wood:Liam
I spent a wonderful day in Walderchain Woods with my dad, learning to carve spoons. Mark was a fantastic host and led the day with just the right mix of safety warnings (axes/knives....!) and chilled attitude. We learnt some tricks and tips.
A delicious, warming, homemade soup was just the ticket at lunchtime (thanks to Mark’s wife), along with a very tasty cake!
I can’t recommend this course highly enough, it was absolutely fabulous- we all came away with all the fingers we had arrived with and with a newly crafted spoon each! We’ll be back again in the future, that’s for sure.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Louise
Sooky and I went and spent a lovely day with Mark amongst the glorious bluebell wood setting.
We both came away with all our fingers, two spoons and an insight into axe crafting.
The day was paced beautifully,informative and Covid aware.
Mark was a great instructor,and had patience with our lack of skill with an axe or blade, and Christina's food delicious, and we also had the company of Ted the dog.
Would highly recommend this day to friends and family.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Thank you for review.
My partner surprised me with this course for my birthday and we had a phenomenal time crafting in Mark’s magical woodland!
Mark is a highly knowledgeable and engaging instructor who made learning proper axe and knife skills fun. His teachings coupled with Christina’s scrumptious homemade soup and cake made for a marvelous day. Can’t recommend this course enough!
Response from Walderchain Wood:Blaise,
It was my second trip to Mark and Cristina's in Walderchain Wood. Had another great day. A day in the woods with Mark and a handful of like-minded souls was just what I needed at what is hopefully the end of lockdown.
If you have any interest in this kind of thing please just book and go. You'll have a great day. Great instruction and a lovely lunch from very kind lovely people.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Greg
My wife brought me the course as a Christmas present. I had an absolutely brilliant day - thanks to you Mark and Jill for your great teaching and super hospitality. I'd love to repeat the day or a parallel course when one is available! I'll lobby my wife!
For everyone else, this course could be for you - that is, ; if you'd like to learn how to safely use woodcarving axes and knives; learn about wood; spend the day away from your work and focus on something else; oh, and to make your own spoon !
Response from Walderchain Wood:Chris
Fantastic day. Been looking forward to it since my wife gave the day as a gift. We were lucky with the weather, Mark was a great teacher, showing every step of the way with a good range of tools to test / try. I can’t recommend this course enough. I want more!
Response from Walderchain Wood:Adrian,
Really good day out. Excellent instructions and genuine hands on experience from log to spoon. Really fun and would recommend.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Thank you for your review. Glad you enjoyed the day.
Excellent day at Walderchain Woods, everything was explained well, great tools and environment to do the course. Strongly recommend.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Thank you for your review. It was a great day, glad you enjoyed it.
I booked the course as an anniversary present for my husband and I. We had an absolutely fabulous day out in the woods spending some quality time together!
Mark and Jill are brilliant teachers, sharing their skill and knowledge. We had a great time picking up a new craft surprisingly quickly! We both headed home with spoons to be proud of and all of our fingers still in place!
The food was lovely, the setting authentic and the company friendly! Brilliant day! Would recommend to anyone!!
The day was fantastic and the team were brilliant. I have not only gone out and bought my own axe and bits but have treated my brothers to the same fun. Wonderfully relaxing and a great environment.
Thanks to all the team.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Luke
I purchased this as a gift for myself, and could not have made a better choice. The venue is is beautiful and very relaxing. Mark and Jill are very friendly, welcoming and generous with their instruction and advice. The whole day was one to remember. I have learnt a set of new skills, and have the confidence now to continue independently. I highly recommend this course.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Aileen,
An absolutely brilliant day!
My wife bought me this as a birthday gift and it was without doubt my favourite present in 34 years. The location is naturally really beautiful, and what Mark has done there serves to accentuate the surrounding environment. We spent the whole day learning around a campfire, under the canopy of a parachute that is nestled within a woodblock - I felt completely detached (in a good way) and de-stressed shortly after arriving.
You couldn't ask for better instruction. Both Mark and Jill are incredibly talented, very personable and great teachers. The whole day was well paced, low pressure, fun and enjoyable, while still being highly productive. The training on the day, the advice given and the follow up information also set you in a great place to carry on spoon carving on your own.
I must also mention lunch - a lovely home cooked meal, enjoyed around the table in Mark's home. Absolutely delicious and great of them to cater for me as a vegan.
I can't rate this course highly enough!
Response from Walderchain Wood:Ben,
I bought this as a present for my husband, Kevin. We both had a great time. The location makes for a special setting to learn wood carving.
Mark was very good and very generous with his knowledge. He was patient throughout and ensured everyone had something resembling a spoon at the end of the day.
There was something very restful about working in the woods and all you could hear was the tools tapping on wood. With the smell of wood smoke coming from the fire pit (on which your elevenses was brewed) just added to the whole atmosphere.
I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in learning how to wood carve.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Fiona,
I had a brilliant day and can't recommend this enough.
Mark and Christina are great hosts. You learn so much in a fantastic setting. Mark knows his stuff and passes it on in a very relaxed but informed way.
Lunch was brilliant too. I loved it. If you've any interest in this kind of thing just book it. You won't be disappointed.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Greg
My son, his partner, my best friend and me all have a birthday within a couple of weeks of each other, what better way to celebrate than spending a day in the woods with Mark and Christina learning to carve spoons. They are wonderful hosts. The course is very gentle and Mark's is a brilliant teacher. It was nice to meet the other carvers, the food was delicious... And we made some surprisingly reasonable spoons. We would all come back again and thoroughly recommend Walderchain Woods.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Tony
Some friends arranged for my husband and I to participate on this course as a wedding present. We went as a four, without much expectation nor any experience in carving wood..and we had the most amazing day! It was a brilliant gift idea, extremely therapeutic, satisfying and fun to do with good friends in an incredible setting. Mark is a fantastic teacher. He is calm, patient, very knowledgable yet relatable. He really encouraged us to become confident with our equipment, and each one of us made a beautiful hand carved wooden spoon as a result! Cristina was also warm and welcoming, and made us a delicious lunch during our midday break. Walderchain Wood is a beautiful, natural environment where the birds sing and the leaves are green. I couldn't recommend more. 5 stars!
What a great experience! Mark was a very attentive and patient teacher, we came away from the course having gained many transferable craft techniques.
The 'king' provided was absolutely delicious, with lots of fresh produce and a cake!
Would highly highly recommend to anyone!
Response from Walderchain Wood:Dan, thank you for the review. The day was a blast, I had a wonderful time. You all made great spoons.
You guys! I nearly cried. Not because I was sad but because you actually helped me get over my fear of very sharp pointy knives. So if you think you are too weedy to handle a whacking great axe or deal with sharp tools - think again. I have a genuine phobia and the patience and care I was shown was worth 3 years of therapy! I also made a pretty nifty spoon and enjoyed a hilarious lunch with fellow spooners. You only get nice people doing this course. You will make a spoon. You will have fun. What's not to like?
Response from Walderchain Wood:Isobelle, now you have got a 'handle' on the blades there will be no stopping you! Great to have have you here and glad you got so much out of the day.
A very enjoyable day, in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The instructions were clear, concise and to the point.
I feel it is necessary to have reasonable manual dexterity to get the most out of the day.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Thank you for your kind words. Glad you enjoyed the day. You're right a reasonable level of manual dexterity is required but no super human skill or energy...
Right - I am reviewing this course having accidentally (and independently) decided to try spoon carving. I had already watched loads of YouTube videos on the subject and already purchased a basic tool-set; I had even beaten a couple of spoons into existence....
Luckily, I was still conscious enough to realise that I might not know everything about the subject and signed up for this course - and thank goodness I did.
The setting is beautiful and entirely conducive to the job in hand (for an absolute beginner (which I really am) or someone pretending to have a clue (which I was). Mark and Jill are: a) lovely people, b) deeply, deeply knowledgeable and committed to the whole green woodworking movement/spoon-carving thing and c) lovely, lovely people - and I thank them both for a fantastic day from which I gained new knowledge and an affirmation that I had connected with something that is important and, for me, a grounding experience.
If you have just fallen in love and want to share an amazing experience or if you are bored, lonely, frustrated and have indigestion or if you are young, old or anywhere in-between or, like me, just want to learn - do this course! If you only enjoy the walk in the wood and the veggie soup it will be money well spent; but I guarantee you will get much, much more from the day - thank you Mark and Jill !!
Response from Walderchain Wood:Luke,
What a fantastic day! Thank you so much Mark and Jill for providing such an inspirational course. Your enthusiasm, thoroughness, patience and support gave me great confidence and I was so proud of what I achieved. And to be working in such magical surroundings in the middle of a bluebell wood. It was a very full day, so much excellent advice on techniques, types of wood, tools, health and safety.Thank you too Christina for a feast of a lunch and cake! I could not recommend this course enough. This would make a memorable and superb gift. Just loved it.
Response from Walderchain Wood:It was a great day, so glad I held the class outside - the weather so much better than the forecast. Glad you enjoyed it all.
Thanks a lot for a great day, it was thoroughly enjoyable and I am proud of my efforts and resulting spoon (though my kids are less impressed ;-). The setting is spot on, the teachers are knowledgeable and super friendly and the tools very sharp indeed (lol!). I will be back with my friend for sure. If anyone is reading this comment, do not hesitate, do this workshop, you won't regret it one bit, I give you my word!
Response from Walderchain Wood:Thank you for your review.
I’ve just had a fantastic day, thank you Mark! I absolutely loved it and am seriously keen to continue carving! The setting was perfect, and for the first time in a long while, I completely lost track of time. Wonderful!
Response from Walderchain Wood:Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed the day and glad to hear you want to do more. Spending the whole day in the wood was good 'de-compression' for me too. All the best, Mark
What a fantastic day in a beautiful setting with such friendly, patient, passionate and knowledgeable teachers. I can't wait to it again!! Not because I was particularly proud of my spoon but because I had enjoyed the process and methods of making it so much. By lunchtime you become completely immersed in the craft and switch off from the outside world. Thank you Mark and Jill
Response from Walderchain Wood:Thank you for you review.
I've now done this course twice, which I guess says something in itself !
The first time was with my 8 year old son. Mark & Jill were (rightly !) concerned about an 8 year old doing the spoon carving course given how sharp the tools are and the coordination required. They remained immensely professional about it but facilitated making it possible for Oscar to take part just like any adult. Both he and I has such an amazing day. I couldn't recommend it highly enough. Just DO IT ! 2 years later and following a 2nd trip where I brought our whole office to carve spoons out of logs we all still talk about it very fondly. I'm also pleased to say that 2 years later we're still using all the spoons we made :-) You can never have enough wooden spoons. Think I need to organise another trip . . . !
Response from Walderchain Wood:Glad you both enjoyed your day.
I had a great day on Saturday in the woods carving my spoon, with some lovely company and great tuition from Mark. Lunch was good too! Wonderful opportunity to do something different in a lovely location. I would also recommend it as my fellow spooner has! I would love to have another go.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Thank you for your review.
My 13yr old son Conor and I had a lovely day yesterday on the spoon carving course. Mark was a great, patient teacher who has a wealth of knowledge about carving and wood. We had a lovely walk around his woods which was very informative and a great homemade lunch of soup and cake. A great day that I’d highly recommend to anyone interested in outdoor activities.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Thank you very much.
My daughter attended the workshop this weekend and had a wonderful time. She has managed to carve a great spoon even if it was a beginner.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Many thanks for your review.
Wow, what a day. Mark and Jill are amazing teachers in the art of spoon carving. The workshop is in the most beautiful location and a fantastic lunch was provided by Christina. We had been waiting for a date for a year to do the course due to other commitments but the wait was well and truly worth it. The course is about far more than learning to carve a spoon. You learn all about the tools and how to use them safely, information about what wood to use and a lovely walk around Marks woods. If you are considering doing the couse think no more, get on and book it. You will not be disappointed.
Response from Walderchain Wood:Many thanks for your review.
Beautiful location and blessed with fantastic weather. I had a brilliant day and learnt so much that I can take away and apply myself at home. Mark and Jill are patient and expert teachers that support and guide you throughout the day. Excellent advice on techniques and equipment that you might want to look out for should you choose to take up this art. A delicious home made lunch and a nice walk through the woodland with advice on tree types and things like coppicing and woodland management. I couldn’t have asked for a better first experience spoon carving and have gone away with knowledge that will last a lifetime. Thanks to everyone at Walderchain Wood.
Mark very welcoming on arrival and very patient with his teaching. Very hands on and practical. Really had a great day learning how to safely use an axe and different knives. Lunch was wholesome and home made. The best bit was coming away with a spoon that I had carved myself.
Thank you for sharing your skills.
A great sunlit day with Mark and Jill at Mark's workshop in autumn-bright beautiful woodland. These two experts gave us excellent hands-on teaching of axe and knife work, tips on wood types and spoon design, plus plenty of tool envy opportunities - all accompanied by much good humour and Chris's fabulous lunch. Thank you!
I was looking for an unusual early Christmas present for my partner and this course was brilliant. We had a very good time with Mark and Jill and thanks to their skills and patience, we both managed to carve great spoons, enjoy a delicious meal and have a nice walk in the woods.
If you love crafts and want to try something new, this is an unforgettable day’s course.
The skills Mark and Jill have are incredible, they taught me (a complete novice) to carve the most amazing spoon.
I’d thoroughly recommend you to sign up, I would definitely return to learn something else.
Carving is so good for the soul.