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Green woodwork courses ~ by Angus

Green woodwork courses

Green Woodwork refers to the practice of working with unseasoned wood. There is a long tradition of such working, which is often done outdoors in a woodland with freshly cut wood and without using power tools of any sort. It is therefore an ideal activity to do in your own or a friend’s woodland. Timber used is usually a by-product of woodland management. Coppiced timber in its green state is easier to cut, shape and turn than is seasoned wood.

The green woodworker will use processes developed over hundreds of years, such as splitting or “cleaving” with wedges, trimming with an axe, and shaping with a draw knife. Once timber is suitably dimensioned it can be shaped using a chisel and pole lathe.

A pole lathe is a lathe which is foot-powered by the operator. Using a long, flexible pole as a spring and pedalling to turn the lathe, the craftsman can very effectively turn the wood that he/she is working on. Long chisels of different shapes are used to shape and smooth the wood. Favourite items made this way are chairs, stools, rolling pins, handles for tools, and even toys (such as babies’ rattles).

There are many short courses you can go on to learn how to do green woodwork. As well as being fun, these courses are usually set in woodlands, either camping or staying in a nearby bed and breakfast, and you end up with something to take home to demonstrate your new-found skill.

One of the best courses we have come across is operated in Gloucestershire by Paul Hodgson. Details of his green woodwork courses run with Cotswold Woodland Crafts are at greenmanworkshop.co.uk. He is running courses in September, October and November 2007. A typical cost is only £90 for the two days. Paul works with Graham Saunders and Bob Field and they are all members of the Association of Pole Lathe Turners.

Does anyone know of any other green woodwork courses in other parts of the country?

Posted in: Woodland Activities ~ On: 30 August, 2007

8 comments so far

Tim Gatfield
18 June, 2012

Hi cherrywoodproject.co.uk run courses from basic to advanced greenwoodwork as well as a range of other coppice and low impact development courses from our 40 acre woodland 5 miles NE of Bath. Dates and prices are on the website. We would love to see you in the woods!

Nic, we have just built a shepherds hut and happy to share our experience. We are using it for extra accommodation as we have already built a mobile wood-fired sauna! Contact us direct for details.

All the best, Tim


nic hodgkinson
27 March, 2012

Hi, Can anyone recommend a Carpenter who may like to teach a small group to build a Shepherd’s Hut sauna (or just green wood benches if that sounds too ambitious) in South East London?

Thanks, Nic

Paul Hodgson
16 February, 2010

Cotswold Woodland Crafts announce Green Woodwork courses for 2010 and are pleased to invite students to a new venue at Prinknash Abbey “The Monastery Garden Woodland Workshop”. Work in progress currently but things will be sorted for April. Visit http://www.CotswoldWoodlandCrafts.co.uk for details.

15 October, 2009

If you are like me and love any thing to do with green woodworking your love the new DVD that’s just been produced, Englands Traditional Country Crafts, presented by Dick Strawbridge.
You can journey back into the past and rediscover one of England’s most fascinating ancient traditions; making finely-crafted bowls and spoons from recently-harvested, ‘green’ wood.
These timeless skills featuring today’s dedicated craftsmen and women using beautifully simple but effective tools, in idyllic woodland locations.

Available on Amazon.

Tracy Pepler
5 December, 2007

Just realised my last post should have said Mike Abbott! Not sure where I got green from!

Tracy Pepler
3 December, 2007

Mikes Green woodworking book is very good, we used his plan to build a pole lathe.
We used wood rescued out of a skip – which I think was a mistake for us – as it was a mahogany bar from a pub and was very hard to drill!
In my opinion the courses on green wood work are good value for money – don’t be put off the expense, you will not regret it!

Mike Abbott
25 September, 2007

Mike Abbott’s 2008 programme of green wood and chairmaking courses is now available on http://www.living-wood.co.uk. His classic book, Green Woodwork is now back in print on its 10th print run and is available along with his more recent book, Living Wood. Both books can be ordered from Living Wood Books at the website above.

4 September, 2007

Anyone interested in Green Woodwork in North Wales should contact:

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