Beginners steam-bending courses at Charlie Whinney Studio.
Steam bending is an ancient woodworking process which provides many opportunities for creating exciting designs, both sculptural and functional.
The program offers everything needed to get to grips with steam-bending wood and using the process for your own work. We have divided the content into four modules, which can also be attended as single workshops:
- 'Beginners steam-bending'
- 'Advanced steam-bending'
- 'Secret techniques'.
The course will give you the knowledge and confidence to steam bend economical and eco-friendly locally sourced wood. Since 2010 we have taught steam-bending to over 100 students travelling to our studio from 14 countries.
This course takes place at the studio in Cumbria and includes a short walk down to the woods where the timber is sourced. Please get in touch if you have any mobility issues so that we can discuss the best options for access. Wheelchair access is possible with prior notice.
Cancellation and a full refund can be obtained up to 2 weeks before the course starts. Start dates may be amended on request.
Materials, tuition and refreshments are included in the price and the professional course includes all food and accommodation.
The workshop is fully equipped, you do not need to bring any tools or materials unless you have particular tools you would like to work with or woods you would like to bend.
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.
I did the one day steam bending beginners course and I found it extremely inspiring and interesting. I felt that Charlie delivered the course passionately and that the day was really well organised. He really managed to show us a lot of techniques in a day with great energy and was attentive to any questions or particular experiments we wanted to try within the group and on an individual basis.
I attended Charlie's wood-smithing course in France 2016. It was a great experience and Charlie is an excellent teacher full of knowledge, energy and a desire to experiment and be creative.
Danny is a great host, always willing to help out and as a local can give you all the info you need on the area.
We learnt a lot on the first two days and then had fun experimenting and playing with wood for three days, exploring what was possible with the two chestnut trees that had been milled up for the course. We even helped Charlie create an amazing sculpture that now sits above the gate at the house where the course is held.
The village of Caunes-Minervois is beautiful, set in an amazing area of France, with the sea and the mountains not too far away, the stunning town of Carcassonne just a 20 minute drive and of course all the amazing French food & wine!
I thoroughly enjoyed my day on the beginners steam bending course. Charlie is a great teacher and could not have done more to ensure we got the most from our time with him. Truly inspirational, humble man. Passionate about teaching and inspiring others. Thank you.
I learned so much in Charlies course! I had some experience with the technique from before, but still learned very very much, that it would have taken years to learn by myself. I will really recommend his courses, and I will definitely join one of his other courses as well.
Charlie Whinney has an expert knowledge of his subject and an impressive ability to share it. The course is about 'doing' and importantly CW is as keen for students to experience what doesn't work and why things go wrong as he is for them to achieve success.
Take his word for it on the warm clothes advice if you're attending in winter!
I've been on a few furniture making courses since I attended the professional steam bending course with Charlie, none have compared really. There is a lot to take in and Charlie was always happy to answer any questions I had, as well as show us techniques that were slightly off the course agenda. Charlie and the team provided us with a fun yet constructive atmosphere. I certainly learnt a lot and thoroughly enjoyed the course, the beauty of the surroundings and the food (wow!!).
Im a professional furniture maker and was looking to expend my knowledge of woodworking with a course on steambending. Charlie's course was recommended to me by a fellow maker and as he is already a highly repected maker in hs field I knew I would be in good hands.
The course was really well prepared and moved along at a good pace with a lot of knowledge and enthusiasm being put forward. In the three days we learned a lot of different bends and techniques which I have since put to good use in my own work! The setting and hosting was also top notch although we did get very lucky with the weather.
I would really recommend a steambending experience at Charlies workshop.5
As a keen and enthusiastic drumbuilder I had been looking all around Europe and beyond for steambending workshops and courses and that's when I found a video on Charlie Whinney's course.
From what I saw I knew straight away I had to take the first chance to do his course.
Charlie provides a thorough and vibrant practice into most aspects concerning steambending. It's an intensive 3 day course of pure steambending. From going out to the woods in beautifull Beckhead in Cumbria to learn how to source wood suitable for steambending to testing, steam chamber building, jig and chair making. He also cleverly provides a comprehensive handbook concerning all aspects adressed during the course and beyond. This allows you to simply concentrate on practice, it's perfect.
Charlie is a very down to earth and thoughtfull guy. Time before starting the course he asks if there is any specific technique or purpose you want to adress, he was fully commited to try and build jigs I had showed him previously. There was never a question or doubt he didn't answer or tackle and even coming down the next day with further info on it. So completely commited and interested in his students.
Not to mention the fact he is an extraordinary artist with a type of work that is simply fascinanting and inspiring.
This is the type of course that gets you in touch with the real deal. An artist at the forefront of his practice. It's simply the best detour you can take to set you up for the fastest and most solid progression into this ancient artform. Up to now I havn't found anything that comes close.
To top it up we were extremely well hosted by him and his family in beautifull Cumbria. Accomodation and food was superb.
It was worth every penny and I came all the way from Portugal.
Afonso Passos from Portugal
My wife booked me on to the back-to-back beginners and advanced courses for a weekend in Dec 2016, after seeing the steam bending techniques used on Grand Designs a few weeks earlier, and wanted to find out more and have a go.
The beginner course started with a most welcome cup of tea and introductions in Charlie's workshop in beautiful Cumbria, followed by a short walk to the neighbouring woodland to see where (and how) the process starts. Then on to the village hall for the day for lots of demo's, hands-on experiences, plus tea and cake, from the outset. The group was a great mix of people including families, wood craft enthusiasts, previous course attendees, and those who had watched Grand Designs and now had the bug.
We experimented with all kinds of timber (different species, old vs new, green vs seasoned/kiln dried, etc) to learn how it handles (or not) when you attempt to steam-bend it. It is very much a hands-on experience and you learn an awful lot by getting involved, getting a feel for the wood, and discovering which techniques, tools, and jigs work well together.
You quickly build a great rapport with your fellow course mates, as many of the learning experiences lend themselves towards helping each other out, especially when bending an oak beam that is several inches thick!
The first day concluded with everyone making their own fruit bowl to take home, which is a great way to put your new skills in to practice and have something to show for it. The group then headed off to the local village pub for evening drinks and dinner with Charlie and his family.
Day 2 saw a few of the beginners group return for the Advanced course. As before the course was very hands-on. The course content was a little more fluid allowing the group to experiment with their own techniques and ideas, as well attempting more sophisticated bends such as S bends and loops. If someone had an idea for a bend, then Charlie had a jig for it, or if not would make or adapt one to get the desired result.
Charlie Whinney is a great ambassador of this craft. His passion and experience are soon made apparent through his natural ability to impart his knowledge in an open and friendly manner. He is very accommodating in helping his students in terms of the course logistics/accommodation, working through ideas and concepts, and also providing equipment for those that are looking to start a workshop on their return.
I highly recommend his courses and would be keen to explore attending another in the future.
Enlightening, fun, rewarding, you can't ask for more than that, a great little course - superbly hosted by Charlie Whinney, set in beautiful surroundings, and a great beer and delicious food in the local pub with Charlie after a long but very fast moving day.
Having passed Charlie's workshop while on a walk and poking my nose into see what it was all about I decided to sign up for a course (in 2016)
It was all I expected and more. Very 'hands on', selecting and chopping the trees, trimming the wood in preparation for steaming, bending small and large pieces - team effort; with some theory thrown in and an opportunity to make something to take away. A very full day, came away done in but very satisfied with the whole day.
This was my first steaming course with Charlie, and I'm already looking forward to the next one. His enthusiasm and expertise swept everyone along, and Charlie made sure we all played a part. I learned an enormous amount in the day, and had a lot of fun doing it. Most importantly, steaming has now become a "tool" I can confidently use in my own workshop.
it was an amazing course, intense, imaginative and very inspirational.
Steam bending is the opposite to fine dovetails. Its Art + science + bodging & Charlie makes it viceral.
He is a great teacher, happy to share his knowledge and considerable skills.
He also likes aiming seriously downhill on a longboard.
If you Feel the need for Speed and want to bend it, Charlie is ya'man
Charlie's "Make-a-chair-in-a-day" course in June 2016 appealed to me for a number of reasons although I had some doubts whether I would actually go home with a chair which would stand up and support me. To my amazement I did! I am a practical kind of personal but without any woodworking skills so initially I felt a bit out of my depth among more experienced participants. Charlie and his assistants were always there if I needed them in order to move on to the next stage but I really appreciated the freedom to experiment and find out things for myself. There was a good, friendly atmosphere on the course which gave me the confidence to slowly but steadily complete my chair. I also really enjoyed the work environment, a massive old stone barn, overlooking the beautiful countryside of the Lake District. How better to spend a day?
Great course learnt so much from Charlie.
Tremendous teacher, I would highly recommend this course to anyone. Very inspiring, i am still messing about with steam boxes made from kingspan in the garden bending any piece of wood in sight! Charlie is to wood bending what Jimi was to Fenders, 100% rock and roll and a really nice bloke, get on it.
A really fun and informative few days. Fast paced and very of hands on!
I've been designing furniture since graduating at the RCA back in 1972. A few years ago I was in a furniture museum in Vienna looking at some amazing Thonet chairs and realised I knew absolutely nothing about steam bending. I googled like made, came across Charlie's course and booked in for 4 days in July 2013.
The whole experience was pure magic. The course is set in paradise, my fellow students were a wonderful mixture, from all over the world, from all walks of life and tremendous fun.
Charlie is an inspirational teacher with a passion for steam bending, it's palpable and it rubs off, I learnt loads and I met some great people.
When I came back I set to and designed some 20 pieces of furniture suitable for steam bending. I also came back with my 'chair-in-an-afternoon' which is still in constant use and proudly sits on the terrace in the pouring rain as I write this message - thank you Charlie.
Nigel James Mac-Fall
I attended the professional practice course at Charlie's workshop in the Lake District. For four days we learnt everything you need to know about steam bending, from material properties to techniques and design. Charlie is patient and incredibly generous, his team are skilled, lovely people, plus his workshop is based in a stunning location. Win, win.
This course helped to focus my own practice and I'm currently in Australia, about to use these techniques with architecture students. Charlie's instruction gave me the confidence and the knowledge to get to this point, for which I'm extremely grateful.
I highly recommend Charlie's steam bending courses, he is a highly skilled maker/practitioner and an excellent teacher.
I attended the two day beginner's steam bending course in 2016.
The first day was covering the basics of wood bending; health and safety; using different types of wood and how they bend in different ways. Enjoying the use of different jigs to wrap your wood around. Having a lot of fun with the whole group.
The second day was the design and build of your own chair in a day. We all used the same basic steel jig to build the chair and then started to add our own designs on top of the basic chair.
We had extensive assistance during the chair building process the whole day and everyone had a thoroughly great time. At the end of the day we had our own chairs to take away with us.
The best 2 day course I have ever done so far. Excellent. Charlie and his team were all friendly and supportive all throughout the course.
Apart from this I was fortunate enough to spend another week with Charlie making my own creations. The skills that I picked up from Charlie in that short period were exceptional; working with different tools and watching Charlie when he was working in production of new sculptures. I learned a lot and realized I needed to spend more time at his studio, there is too much too learn in 1 week.
Charlie Whinney is one of the UK's leading artists working with wood on contemporary sculptural designs. One would be silly to miss out on an opportunity to work in his studio and pickup on some of his exceptional skill set.
A great person and a great studio.
I attended the two day beginner's steam bending course in 2016. A lot of material was covered in the first day, but in a relaxed, friendly, pressure free way. So much was taught that I should have taken notes, but I was enjoying myself too much. What can be done with wood, how to select and prepare it for bending, how to make simple but effective tools and equipment, how to bend, practice in bending and more.
The second day - to make your own chair in a day - was intense. We just wanted to put all that we had learnt into practice and to keep working without a break, but Charlie insisted we stop for lunch. A terrific practical exercise.
I thoroughly enjoyed the course, learnt a lot and left with my head buzzing with ideas.
Great course, Great teacher, Great location. Had a great time and learned loads about steam bending wood.