Timber framing courses
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About the Course
Green Oak Timber Frame building Course with Master craftsman Alan Ritchie and sons. With over 40 years collective experience betwwen them. This course is ideal for self builders, woodworkers, hobbyists and craft skills enthusiasts! The course has been set in our idealic woodland workshop for the last 11 years but this year we have a very exciting live build project in beautiful Normandy, France! Close to several outstanding beaches, local cider and cuisine!
We will be teaching our specialist marking system essential for green Oak buildings. Scribing and cutting mortice and tenon joints on a full size live build Oak frame. We aim to give you full instruction and advice in all aspects of traditonal timber framing, so you can go away inspired with new skills! So - fancy a rewarding French holiday with a group of like minded people creating a beautiful structure that will last hundreads of years?
This comprehensive woodwork course takes you from the raw material to the design. Whether you are planning a project of your own, or interested in trying your hand at a new skill, we aim to give you insight into this ancient craft whilst having a relaxed and enjoyable time. Our timber framing courses are primarily intended as teaching workshops, designed to give you as comprehensive an overview of the subject as possible. Below you will find an outline of the subjects addressed.
- An introduction to timber framing and frame design
- The environmental ethics of using timber
- Safe use of hand & power tools
- Essential Marking system for working with green wood.
- The cutting of scarf joints, mortice & tenon
- Drawn bored pegging technique
- Marking and cutting a wall frame
- Studs and braces.
- Different scribing techniques & basic trig
- Level references & carpenters marks
- Laying up a cross frame
These are 2 x 5day courses £550 per week or £995 for the 2
To secure your place please contct me and i will send you a booking form The deposit is £150 per course, full payment 3 weeks before the course date.
For Site map please see our other page on craft courses by following the other courses run at this centre link.
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?
Tools and Tution
Self service breakfast, lunch provided each day and an evening meal at the house on Mon & Wed evenings leaving Tue & Thu to eat down town; sample some French food and get out and about. People will need to arrive on the Sunday so we could provide a BBQ or fresh soup, fresh bread, cheese etc Sunday night, People staying over the weekend can order food in advance from Julie.
About the La Fermette en Pierre (The Stone Farm): There is an ample grassy area for tents and a couple of campervans (VW Transporter size). Hot shower, toilet, barn for working or eating and socializing and a couple of bikes and kayaks if you’re feeling sporty.
Background to the Course: In 2015, Julie and Simon bought a run-down farm house (Longere) in a rural area of North West Normandy with the intention of living a more relaxed and fulfilling second half of their lives. The property consists of a two-bedroom house in need of complete renovation, a couple of barns and a ruin.
One of the barns and adjacent ruin is where Hewnwood and crew enter the adventure: An oak frame settled into the thick stone walls providing the structural aspects of floors, walls and roof.
The Barn and ruin both have great potential. Remove the roof and breeze blocks. Create a heart of oak and top it off with a new slate hat with oak dormer windows! The oak will be bought from the local sawmill less than 2-miles away and the frame constructed on-site.
A note from Simon: We decided on an oak frame shortly after buying the property, which lead me to searching for an appropriate course on traditional oak framing. This lead me to Hewnwood and three courses later, the possibility of Team Ritchie and an oak framing course or two coming to Normandy to join our French dream. From a personal perspective, it is important for me to have as much physical input to the renovation as possible both for the journey and the fulfilment of living here for the long term. The opportunity to have Team Ritchie and like-minded individuals come together to learn new skills, work on the project and bring energy to the old building is very special.
About the local area and attractions: We are on the edge of a small village with open rolling fields and a stream to the rear of the house. It is very tranquil with quiet roads and tracks for walking, running and cycling. The Moulin de Contentin is a 1.5-mile walk away. Portbail is a lovely local town which is on the coast five miles away with several restaurants, bars, market, supermarket, bakers etc… The sandy beaches are plentiful, clean and very quiet. Jersey is a short boat ride from Carteret, two miles along the coast from Portbail. For those with a sweet tooth or looking for great gifts we recommend visiting the Maison de Biscuit which is a popular local attraction. For those who like cider, the Domaine de Rugueville cidrerie, just a 3-mile stroll away, is an absolute must.
We are a 30-minute drive from the town of St Mere Eglise, which is a personal favourite, famous for the parachutist who got caught up on the church spire and later escaped. The museum here is a must see. The Normandy Beaches are a further 15-minute drive away which offer a huge amount of history that is best experienced over a few days.
Mont Saint Michelle is a 2-hour drive away which is achievable as a day trip and, as France’s second most visited tourist attraction, it is well worth the drive.
Getting here; Brittany Ferries sail from Portsmouth and Poole to Cherbourg. This is the easiest option as it is only a 35-minute drive to our house which makes picking up foot passengers very easy. 10% discount is available with our Club Voyage membership: F00CA1. Caen is an easy 2-hour drive if this offers a better deal.
The three courses I completed at Hewnwood were all based on a ‘glamping’ cabin which I became quite attached to. This lead me to ask Alan whether it would be possible to secure a discount for all those who have had an input on the frame so we could see the finished project and point out our chisel marks. If you feel the same way once you have attended a course in Normandy and would like to return in 2019 to stay in the finished Gite, Julie and I would be very pleased to offer you a 20% discount and a welcome package of cider and cheeses.
If you are thinking of getting the course as a present for someone special we have an attractive gift set. Please contact us for info!
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
About the La Fermette en Pierre (The Stone Farm): There is an ample grassy area for tents and a couple of campervans (VW Transporter size). Hot shower, toilet, barn for working or eating and socializing and a couple of bikes and kayaks if you’re feeling sporty.
A truly excellent experience. Learned so much in a week. Alan, Mary and his team made us all feel so welcome. Alan is a rare combination of expert craftsman, story-teller, musician, and a true gentleman. Mary's cooking was unsurpassable. As a person with good intolerances, Mary made sure that I never once failed to thoroughly enjoy every meal!
Niall - - #15953
Thanks to everyone at Hewnwood for an amazing week! The course was extremely informative and well organised. The setting is perfect, and I came away feeling all round inspired!
Alan and Connor are both extremely knowledgeable and fantastic teachers, and Mary's cooking was incredible!
I will definitely be returning and would recommend to anyone. Thanks guys
Sam Downing - - #15704
Awesome course, the woods setting is fantastic and the course is perfectly informative withput being rushed.
Alan and his family are very accommodating; if you like food you should go for Mary's cooking alone!
Cheers for a great week.
James Anderson - - #14805
Really enjoyed the course. It was so inspiring to be in the woods building with a group of folk all keen to get to grips with the skills needed to timber frame with green oak. The techniques around using datum lines, references, scribing, measuring and attention to detail were fascinating. Really enjoyed the passion that John and Conor brought to the teaching and having Al playing the flute in the background made for a magical time in the woods. But the glue that binds the whole course together is Mary's catering which was superb! Thank you
Tom Ingall - - #10893
This course was really great!
I learned so much in this one week about the framing of green oak! Most stuff is impossible to learn from books, and is explained clearly, patiently (and repeatedly if needed :) ) by the excellent teachers of this course: Alan, Connor and John. Their skills in using all the tools is most sophisticated.
Most suprising part for me was the detail given to correct scribing and marking out the joints, since this proves to be as important as chopping away the green oak. Again, the tricks and tips for correct scribing to curvy, wobbly green oak cannot be found in any timber framing book.
As for the complete experience: the cooking of Mary is simply fantastic! Also the camping in the woods and the nightly campfires adds to the real woodland experience.
Thomas van de Sande - - #10700
I so enjoyed this! To those out there considering an experience in green oak timber framing, I thoroughly recommend spending a week (or more) with Alan, Mary, Connor, John and Sid - not to mention, great candidate company. Regardless of skill level, you’ll come away with a stronger understanding of this beautiful and ancient craft. Alan ‘et al’ know their stuff and, just as important, clearly enjoy sharing their seemingly limitless knowledge through hands-on, patient, attentive, and practical instruction that, by week’s end, will culminate in a beautiful oak frame.
Mary’s cuisine was, well, simply scrumdiddlyumptious – so much so that whenever I look at timber joints now, I’m instantly hungry...
Thank you all for a wonderful week!
Ed Hubbard - - #10682
Another excellent week in the woods: great learning experience, excellent tuition, good people and fantastic food.
This was my third course having completed basic and advanced in July. We continued framing the same project; a large "glamping cabin" which provided a challenging and fulfilling learning environment.
Allen spent time designing my project for a barn conversion in Normandy which we are planning to use as a course late summer 2018.
A big thanks to Mary, Allen, Connor, John and Sid for another great week.
Simon James - - #10607
I struggle to find a fault in this course. Superb environment. Glorious meals from Mary. Wise guidance and instruction from Alan, Connor, John and Anthony. The content and delivery was inspiring and clear which is exactly what I had hoped for. Meeting so many lovely folk was an added bonus. I can see why people come back! Many thanks again to the Hewnwood team.
Trevelyan Beyer - - #10606
After visiting Hewnwood for my third course, I'm happy to say it's still the same great learning environment as it was on my first visit.
There is something new to learn every time I go!
There's a good chance I'll be back next year and enjoy more of Mary's cooking!
Timber framing No.3 - - #10603
What a great course! There is nothing I can fault from the brilliant tuition to the amazing food (thanks Mary) to the newly installed shower. If I could have stayed for the follow on course I would have. Alan and Connor have so much patience to pass on the skills they know too well to the inexperienced bunch that attended this course.
I can only hope I have the time to return for a second helping of timber framing!
Gareth Coetzer - - #9960
I've just completed the advanced course and I can I honestly say it was excellent and is surpassed my expectations. It was so good I've booked to go back for a third week in September to learn more from Allen and Connor.
Allen is an excellent instructor with a genuine desire to pass on his considerable knowledge. Allen, Connor and Sid go above and beyond, often still teaching until late in the evening - thanks for your patience and enthusiasm.
See you all in September:-)
Simon James - - #9940
It’s quite hard to convey what an awesome experience the last two weeks have been.
In terms of learning about green oak timber framing, Alan is a very gifted teacher. He has somehow managed to tailor the teachings perfectly to accommodate the varying levels of experience within the group. And he does this with such great patience and humour!
Alan was also assisted by his equally talented son Connor who was very generous with his time, both during the daytime timber framing, and the evening axe throwing and archery shenanigans!
I now know enough to get started on my own small projects and I have the bug to learn more about Green Oak Timber framing.
The food was incredible, and I say this as a fussy eater. I was never felt wanting for anything else, although my wife is now subtly suggesting a diet is in order! Many thanks Mary!
Finally, the fellow members of the group seemed to be the icing on the cake. I felt lucky to be joined by such a varied group of awesome people who all had a common interest in being creative with the idea of eventually building something from timber.
In summary, an amazing couple of weeks which will never be forgotten! Thank you to all involved!
Daniel Patton - - #9919
The week I spent at Hewnwood with Alan and his family was quite simply one the best weeks of my life - and I've had a few good ones...! Alan, Mary, Connor and of course (bow of the head m'lady) Alice, are a lovely family and you feel more like a family friend than a student. The pace & content of the course is relaxed and informal however very 'cleverly' matched to not only the needs of the group but to each and every individual. The many positive reviews so far are testamont to the consistency of Alan & Mary's recipe for a great week. Talking about recipes, as has been mentioned so many times, Mary does an amazing job of creating fantastic food in very challenging circumstances - akin to the royal family dining 5 star whilst on a shoot in the wilderness. The only negative comment would be that my wife was expecting me to be slimmer on my return after a week wild camping in the woods - oh dear.... I will definitely be putting all I learnt to good use and will be returning to show the results to the teacher (and Alice of course x) and hope to meet some or all of the other students who all made the week so enjoyable. If you are able to camp as opposed to going home every night then I would highly recommend that you do as the nights by the fire with music and laughter is not to be missed. Alan, Mary et al... thank you again, it was an absolute pleasure to meet you all x
PS. Alan, get on with the cob oven...!
PPS. Save a beaver, choose chocolate...!!
Fraser Petrie - - #9903
Go on this course: no matter your level of ability or if you only have a mild interest in timer-framing, I doubt that you will be disappointed.
Alan has, and is always willing to share, his inspiringly profound depth of skills and knowledge in timber-framing. He is patient and has a natural skill at being a great teacher: an all-round cool-dude. This is mirrored by his son, Connor, who is just about the nicest guy you could hope to meet. Mary's cooking is out of this world: really different and really tasty: she is so lovely too.
All of this, along with a few beers around the fire in the evening, means that the people on the course "bond" in a way that you couldn't imagine possible in such a short time.
I will remember this week for some time to come and earnestly hope to come back for the advanced course soon. I have learnt a great deal, had a great time and made some great friends: what a great week's work (except it really didn't feel like work).
Good luck to the Ritchie Clan!
Edd Rayner - - #9843
What a fantastic course, had a great time with great company to make the whole experience memorable. Alan was a great host and tutor who spent the day and late into the evenings working hard to teach and entertain everyone on the course. The food cooked by Alan's lovely wife Mary was delicious and the evening music around the camp fire was an excellent end to the day. Thanks to all the family Alan, Mary, Sid, Connor and Alice, I will definitely be returning for the advanced course.
Phillip Paisley - - #9832
Fantastic!! The atmosphere created by Alan, Connor and Sid's love for their craft; Mary's gift for cooking and a genuine desire to empathy a wealth of knowledge makes for a perfect learning (and relaxing) experience.
We worked on a real project from design factors through marking, cutting and construction. Throughout the process the guys showed a variety of techniques to achieve the aim. A word of thanks for your patience!! We also benefited from constructing Alan's barn that he cut a couple of years ago. To see everything go together smoothly brought clarity and understanding of the process. To share the occasion is special.
Thanks Team Ritchie, I look forward to the advanced course next week.
Simon James - - #9830
Never had so much fun. Course super interesting with real projects going on. Relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Alan and his family are perfect hosts, ready to help you and to make you fell welcomed and at home.
Mary's delicious and abundant meals were a plus just as the jam sessions around the fire.
Can't wait to go back for the advanced course!
danilo ingannamorte - - #9054
What a great family they created !
Amazing people that i can relate far and beyond the course. Alan is a master in his craft with an incredible ability to share his knowledge while allowing the group to follow its own flow, so much more than just a course, (good atmosphere, food, music, axe throwing, bow shooting, Alaska mill testing, carving and so on ) Mary is an angel dress up as a cook and don't underestimate Connor and Sid, you'll be surprise with those young man.
All I can say is Thank you Al ,Mary Connor and Sid i will put this knowledge to good use soon and return to the advance
Cesar Schilling - - #9000
Where to start about this course......
From start to finish, the course was excellent.
Alan, Mary, Connor and Sid made everyone feel very welcome and even though some of us had less experience with hand tools than others, everyone was treated the same and nobody got left behind in a haze of confusion!
By the end of the course i felt as though i could happily crack on with my workshop framing.... although i am going back for the advanced course for sure!
All in all, the week was great.
Good people, great instruction, excellent tools and amazing food!
Cant wait to return!
Nick Godley - - #8938
Only sorry I did not sign up for the 2nd week. What a great course in a relaxed environment with an international team of participants, from South Africa to Chicago.
To top it all Mary's food was amazing and just what was needed to keep us all going.
Will sign up again for the next course when it is running again.
Jim Farrell - - #5071
By far the best course we've ever been on, and we are looking forward to the advanced one! We have learned so much in 5 days, it is incredible. Rob was able to stretch his technical thinking and dream even bigger projects and Bex was able to overcome her lack of confidence in using hand tools to get great results. Now I know what we are able to achieve as a team there'll be no stopping us!
Alan, John and Connor were incredibly patient, and understanding and explained everything so clearly. Questions were always answered with good explanations so we would always end up solving problems ourselves and learning even more. Not once were we made to feel stupid even though this was completely new to us. All the students worked well together, with great conversation at meal times, while we stuffed ourselves with Mary's incredible food!
Thank you to everyone for an incredible week we will never forget!
We hope to see you all again soon!
Bex & Rob Cottey - - #2689
Without a doubt this is the best course I have been on in my life! I was a bit intimidated by the idea of attending a course I knew nothing about, and a bit worried about being a female in a male dominated field of interest, but I had nothing to fear. Alan and his crew, and his adorable family, made me feel right at home. I would say to anyone thinking about doing this course - JUST DO IT - you will never regret it - and you will have memories to last a life time.
Linda Atkinson - - #2261
What can you say; if you are looking for a timber framing course then I don’t think that you could choose a better one. Alan is a master craftsman, from making his own musical instruments to building the largest of timber frames, the quality and skill of his work displayed is evident to see. The group sizes are up to a maximum of 8 people and therefore there is plenty of opportunity for 1 to 1 tuition from the ‘master’ himself. All carried out in the middle of a beautiful woodland, where at no additional cost you can pitch your tent.
There are ample supplies of restaurant standard food all provided by the lovely Mary and in between times you can enjoy a bit of archery and axe throwing!
The evenings were spent around the camp fire at which Alan displayed his talents playing his own musical instruments-brilliant!
So if you are looking for some serious instruction or a fun week, either way I would thoroughly recommend this course.
Mark Howell - - #1432
I also reviewed the advanced course that I took with Alan, I also did this course:
I have done two courses with Alan & Co at Hewnwood, the standard course and the advanced course, I also helped raise the frame from the first course, which was an excellent experience.
I arrived pretty green with regards to working with wood, having never used a chisel before. You really learn a lot with regards to oak wood timber framing, the technical aspects of setting out irregular wood, the various joints etc. The teaching is excellent from Alan, Connor and John, they never tire of all my questions! It is a great environment to learn in and you learn fast, the days are full and my brain certainly got a good work out on both courses! The courses were really inspiring for me, I really enjoy all aspects and hope to take the things I have learnt forward.
I camped in the woods with a few others, we had fires in the evening and games, such as axe throwing and slack line walking, a few ales and some good live music from Alan and others.
The food is exceptional from Mary, unbeatable home cooking. I come away wanting to be a better cook.
charlie hobson - - #1415
Set in an idyllic woodland setting the Hewnwood course is a very welcoming and enjoyable course. The teaching pace is good with plenty of hands on experience. All the work is done with hand tools which makes for a very pleasant working environment and also hones those all important hand skills. Having done some green woodwork and working in engineering timber framing appealed to both my creative and technical side. The Hewnwood tutors all have a wealth of experience and too boot they often stay on after hours for a good old yarn around a campfire. The food is absolutely first class and is plentiful making up for those lost calories. Highly recommend too all.
Ben Jermy - - #1412
Great course! It's taught in a great hands on and relaxed style so you can get good practice in with tools and techniques. To top it off you're in a beautiful woodland with great food and company!
Jack - - #1382
Not knowing really what to expect other than good recommendations that Alan and his team knew their stuff. My initial reason for doing the course was to get some experience and research to renovate my place in Spain.
I got that and much more, with the expert tuition and hands on involvement alongside meeting like minded people to exchange ideas and new contacts and eating like a king the whole week was very rewarding activity.
I strongly recommend the course to anyone who has an interest in timber framing but not knowing where to start, you will come out of it wanting to do more and with an idea how to go about it.
Julian Baker - - #1317
I've only one recommendation to make: stop reading these reviews and just book it! You won't regret it - whether you want to go into framing, have a project on your house or you just fancy an interesting way to spend a week's break! Alan is a natural teacher and I left the course feeling confident enough to start my own frame and some time on I'm amassing more and more experience and confidence.
And besides, whether or not you end up taking timber framing on after the course, you will return home feeling like you've had a holiday! The woodland setting where you can pitch your tent is beautiful and the nearby Black mountains are a real sight in the mornings. Alan is a great laugh and Mary's food is absolutely amazing... any time not spent on the frame project may be spent axe throwing, trying archery, and mainly sitting round the campsite, laughing with a drink and a full stomach.
I'm really looking forward to the advanced course next month!
Maff Punton - - #1313
The practical work you do on Alan's course actually becomes part of a building Alan is working on.
Starting with marking out large green oak timbers, moving on to cutting joints and making pegs, each stage was well structured and explained.
Alan is a real master of his craft and a very good teacher. We had a lot of fun too.
I can't recommend it highly enough.
Paul A Smith - - #1300
Alan has an infectious love of his craft which is hard not to catch. The course is completely hands and pushed along by enthusiasm and years of experience, the results leave you with a real sense of achievement. A truly great course fuelled by delicious home made food.
tim palmer - - #1285
Having done a fair amount of research and spent a while looking for the right course, I could not have been more pleased with my choice of Hewnwood. I've since been able to put what I learned to practical use and Doing is for me the test - I can do what I learned and am building on that experience.
While the quality and depth of the course was first rate, the woodland setting, the camaraderie of Alan's team and the other participants, and last but not least Mary's cooking (not to be missed) were all inspiring and life-affirming - it was a real joy.
Real courses with real tools taught by real people. I'll be back for the advanced courses, for certain.
Bob Rocheleau - - #1275
Review this course
Course Start DatesMonday 17th September 2018
Monday 24th September 2018
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