Woodworking Courses

daren teaching jamie and anne sophie

I want to do something more creative with the rest of my life.

I want to leave behind things I have made with my own hands, made as well as I can. I want people to pay me for it. Not a lot, but enough to go on making. And next time maybe an even better piece of work, something I can be really proud of.
There is right now a revolution in woodworking courses created by the closure of many state run colleges. This workshop has lead the way and been the model for many of the private furniture making courses available to you today. After all we have been doing this SINCE 1984.

Our Woodwork Courses build one upon the other to give you quality and flexibility. Come to Rowden on one of our short woodworking courses, come for a month, or three months, six months or…
Best of all spend a year on our intensive fifty week woodwork course then stay on, rent bench space and build your business with our help and support.

LOTS OF PEOPLE CAN TEACH YOU TO MAKE, WHAT THEY CANNOT DO IS HELP WITH THE NEXT STEP

Lots of people can teach you to make, what they CANNOT do is help with the next step. Making something worthwhile and turning a penny doing it. We have been doing this in this workshop for OVER THIRTY FIVE YEARS. That experience, of making things on the edge, often things that didn’t work, that broke and twisted in the wind. That experience is here in this workshop and is available to you, every day.

Visitors come to Rowden workshop, see the work our students are doing, YOU COULD DO THAT. The evidence is here, being made every year. It takes hard work, but you could do it just as well. It takes self confidence but we will encourage and support you.

35 YEARS AT THE DEVELOPMENTAL EDGE OF FURNITURE DESIGN AND MAKING, YOU GET ANSWERS FROM GENUINE EXPERTS

dubai dining table chairs

 “David Savage, You must have made a shed load of furniture!”

David Savage is what makes Rowden special. As a Bespoke Furniture Designer, He has spent over THIRTY FIVE YEARS making and designing Fine Furniture. Now he is showing a generation of Young Furniture Designer Makers how to do it Properly, Safely and with Style…

In 2011 Kodansha International published the furniture design book “Furniture with Soul“, featuring David’s work together with nine other World Class woodworking and furniture making workshops In “Bespoke” published 2008, on British Furniture Designer Makers. One in every ten Designer Makers featured had been trained in their woodworking skills by David Savage. He has been teaching people since 1984. This is not allowing for the hundreds of other less high profile makers that he trained that are currently functioning well in small and large woodworking workshops all over the world, becoming shop fitters, kitchen fitters, french polishers, antique restorers, and joiners. Rowden workshops are now recognised as a Centre of Woodworking Excellence that produces exceptional furniture and trains exceptional woodworkers. YOU COULD BE ONE OF THEM.

Expert help at hand...

During your time here on one of our many woodworking courses you’ll be learning key skills from our team of knowledgeable experts, from the key woodworking techniques, through to digital image making, web design, and finances. If you have a question, the team are here to help.

David Savage Furniture - Blonde Gracie

This is David Savage, master craftsman and director of the woodworking courses here at Rowden Farm Atelier. A lifetime of experience in the bespoke luxury furniture design business he can offer priceless advice on the practicalities of running a successful bespoke furniture making business. If you would like to know more about the man himself please follow this wikipedia link.

daren teaching portrait

This is Senior Craftsman Daren Millman – Apprentice trained cabinet maker with twenty one years experience, “one of the best makers, and one of the best teachers, that I know. Daren is amazing, he is one of those quiet, calm people that never gets flustered and always seems to have an answer to your problem” Daren Millman is the senior cabinetmaker at Rowden workshops. As such he is responsible for much of the woodworking technical teaching and the new development work within the workshop. If you have a joint that will not fit or a drawing to detail, go see Daren.

ed portrait wide

This is Ed Wild – a National Award winning furniture designer maker, winner of the 2014 Wesley-Barrell Craft Awards For Furniture with the Hall Table. Here is a link to his website ewcf.co.uk . If you thought Daren was tough then don’t ask Ed what he thinks of your work and expect too many unearned compliments. A very patient, but incredibly demanding teacher who gets great results.Woodworking courses around the world would not find a better trio of complimentary talents to help you get where you want to be.

jon portrait wide

And this is Jon Greenwood – Another Rowden trained Furniture maker. Jon teaches the One week courses generally in groups of two or three. He can guide you through the first, usually most important, steps to becoming a great woodworker.

It’s not about qualifications or prior experience, it IS about attitude and personal qualities.

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Here is what new student, Dugan, has to say…

MY EXPECTATIONS DID NOT EVEN COME CLOSE TO THE ACTUAL EXPERIENCE

I am thrilled with your course, only 5 weeks in and I am already doing things I never imagined I would be able to do! Especially with only HAND TOOLS! You have an amazing staff to say the least!

I am blown away with their ability to teach, a rare characteristic in my opinion, even more so is their passion to do so. I feel that they are able to accurately depict the philosophies and ideas mentioned in your website. My expectations did not even come close to the actual experience I have been given, and that is only in a short short time! I can only dream of what the next 11 months will bring! I am convinced my decision to study at Rowden Farm is the best one I have made to date! Thank you! Much Appreciation and Gratitude!

– Dug

woodworking course student using handtools

ARE YOU THE KIND OF PERSON THAT CAN MAKE THIS WORK?

This is not for everyone. What matters is OOOOMMPH!

Are you the kind of personality that can take this on and make a go of it? Will you get on with the other people in the workshop and help when someone else needs a hand with a glue up? Do you have the kind of personality that is not easily defeated or deflated? It’s not about qualifications or prior experience, it IS about attitude and personal qualities. Do you accept responsibility for your own mistakes or do you blame someone else? Can you deal with the uncertainty of designing something from within your own head? Are you OK with some risks? OK with that idea that may look great but may go wrong?

  • BIZ SKILLS Learn from David what figures you have to measure. CONTROL the risk. Work with him in confidence, one on one, to develop your Biz Plan. Learn how to reach your customers, understand that they need to know YOUR IDEALS and YOUR VALUES. They buy into WHY you do it, not just WHAT you do.
  • TUTORIAL Learn in a small tutor group with David how to take your own journey a step forward.
  • DRAWING AND DESIGN CLASSES Run by Ed Wild on a Wednesday evening. This is important and for everyone, looking hard seeing more, is what drawing gives us. It also gives us access to a creative process to a different WAY of thinking.
  • LIFE DRAWING Not regular, in fact quite irregularly we do practice life drawing. David uses this, not as a class, but to develop his own work. Students who have shown competence are invited to attend.
  • WOODWORKING TECHNIQUES Essential skills, the language of what you do, become fluent in the language of wood. Your skills are a passion for excellence that your customer will admire and desire as something very special in a world of robot driven perfection
  • CONFIDENCE Gather confidence by doing it right, Deep Practice of key hand skills.
  • PROFESSIONAL Learn the dodges and secret efficient methods of the real pro, and learn how YOU can function as an “improver” inside a professional workshop. Daren Millman is a supreme example of a skilled and experienced maker, doing it right in front of you making David’s inspirational pieces.
  • EARN A REAL JOB inside a top workshop as an “improver”. NO PROMISES, but we have an good reputation among the top workshops, around the world. In lots of cases we know their “trade tests” and can prepare you for interview. “People from Rowden are trained to behave well in a professional workshop, they may be slow to start off but they get faster pretty soon.”
  • SET YOURSELF UP IN YOUR OWN WOODWORKING WORKSHOP We have a growing number of alumni running successful workshops that have started as a discussion over a business plan in David’s studio. You could be the next.
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  • SHARED WORKSHOP We can introduce you to shared workshops where there are skilled makers that will rent out bench space. You need to be well trained to safely use these shared facilities so coming from Rowden is a great recommendation.
  • SECOND YEAR Stay on a work with us for a second year. Mature “bench renters” provide valuable experience and are great role models within the workshop.
  • WE ARE DIFFERENT TO EVERY OTHER TEACHING WORKSHOP Making is fine, we and many others could teach you that, what is harder is the next bit, making something worth making. We have been 35 years at the forefront of developmental furniture design. That knowledge is what makes us special, just ask the question… when you need it.
  • WORKSHOP TRIPS AND VISITORS We go to a local timber supplier, during our last visit there was a tree felling display and students were invited to watch the process of stacking and drying timber. We go to exhibition each year, and have visiting designer makers. Recently we’ve had Barnaby from Waywood, Jonathon from Bark and Jonathon Markovitz.
  • ONE TO ONE TUITION Teaching what you need to know, when you need to know it. (you may have to wait a moment or two but it will be you and him)
  • DEEP PRACTICE Hand skills and professional methods taught that will enable you get faster with experience. Bench time is premium time. We do all group teaching in tea breaks and lunch breaks or in the evening. YOUR Time is valuable, we enable you to get up to 60 hours a week consistent bench time. Many of our students do more.
  • INSPIRATION Hard work is essential but you need the inspiration to carry you through. At Rowden you can see world class furniture being made around you in the same studio. See how we do it, up close and personal. Learn from our former students who are now setting up small businesses such as Young & Norgate and Bark Furniture
  • RIGOUR “Like an Old Oxford College Tutorial, but for practical people. When the tutors examine your work – that is rigorous examination.” Phil Hodgeson (alumni 2011) read more testimonials

WE ARE UNIQUE; OPEN ALL HOURS FOR “DEEP PRACTICE”

Bench rooms are open to students SEVEN DAYS A WEEK, early morning till late at night. There are restrictions, you have access out of hours as a privilege not a right; there are Health and Safety restrictions, but the aim is to enable you to access your bench when you want to work. We don’t break the course into terms with long expensive gaps between. Take a break when you need it. Bench time is golden time you must practice, practice, practice, to become good.

Demanding “Students”

Our joy is dealing with demanding people wanting to squeeze the last drop of information out of their time here. Between ten and fourteen full time students are here at any one time.

THIS ENSURES THAT WHEN YOU NEED ATTENTION, ALMOST ALWAYS YOU CAN GET IT ON A ONE TO ONE BASIS

You share the studios with two or three more experienced former students renting space here to build their businesses, and there are usually one or two people on short courses. This ensures that when you need attention, almost always you can get it on a one to one basis.You may have to wait a few minutes but “The Oracle” will get round to you.

I regularly see Daren being pestered with questions during his lunch break and answering them calmly between mouthfuls of sandwich. It may be misleading to call these people “students.” Typically they are in their late twenties to early forties and come here as a change of career. We also find many younger people are coming here rather than university, as the university courses are now so expensive and of unreliable quality. This is witnessed by several recent students coming here after a University degree course in Product Design, to learn skills they expected to learn at University.

Doing this since 1984

Sooooo….. we are starting to get the hang of it. Between us we have over FIFTY YEARS EXPERIENCE in this business .

Exhibition Quality

Quality is what we do, YOU will do it too, from day one. We will teach you all stages from choosing hand tools, to picking out wood, to developing your drawings, and building a portfolio of work. There are lots of workshop schools, courses, and magazines that are great for showing you an amateur way of getting a good result. An amateur has no excuse for poor work other than lack of understanding, the amateur has all day to get it right, the professional has not. They must do it right, first time, every day.

Three month woodworking courses

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Our Year can be broken down into shorter courses if you wish. They build naturally on one another.

Six month woodworking course

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For those of you who know that this is what you want to do in life, check out the ever popular 12 month course

12 MONTH PROFESSIONAL FURNITURE DESIGNER MAKER COURSE

Building your Portfolio: Building your identity as a Designer maker

Once you have primary making skills by month five you will have the option to make what you want, or what your client wants. Yes, you can make for a client or a friend who will act like a client . We urge you to use this time to build your portfolio, this will be your first few pieces of work. This will be the start of you developing your own style, your own aesthetic. You may be artistic, or this may be just starting to emerge under David’s guidance, choose carefully what you want to do with this time. You could develop, with David’s help a range of furniture to be sold direct through exhibitions, you could make pieces for friends or relatives acting as clients. These are great ways to learn to deal with real customers and David will be there to offer help as you make the visits, develop the client brief, do the drawings and eventually get the cheque, oh yes, that’s really a most satisfying part of the process GETTING PAID FOR YOUR WORK!

Develop your own designs or use David’s designs

“I would have hated people at college telling me what to make, but some people need to have projects that have been resolved.” For those of you who want to make chairs we have a range of successful designs that have sold in hundreds over the years. We will show you how to make them and HELP YOU MAKE THEM AFTER YOUR COURSE HAS ENDED! You can have rights to make David Savage designed chairs like these for your customers.

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 Build a genuine business plan

By the end of the year you could have a plan for how to get your business on the road, a few carefully crafted products and more knowledge about how to take the next step than you realise. If our previous students are anything to go by it will take you a couple of further years of hard work to get to a stable predictable income but you should be able to make some profit straight away. Predictability is the aim, after all one of the definitions of a real business is predictability.

Build your own Portfolio this will be how you represent yourself, how you sell yourself to your future clients

Your portfolio says who you are and how far you are down your journey. At the beginning you may only have a couple of pieces of work to show, make the best of them have detail shots and really good studio photographs. David will work with you to get those shots and show you how to do it yourself. Use drawings of future projects, create a maquette or scale models of pieces, light them and photograph them against a white background so the scale is lost. Build your personal visual language. Do it a step at a time.

We all have the ability to be more creative

We all have a side of our brain that is more attuned to holistic intuitive, visual and musical thought. Creativity is a process of assembling ideas from existing material just in a new way. Not just lateral thinking but three dimensional thinking, gathering up processes, images and methods to produce something new.

We ask our students to use their eyes in an extraordinarily intense way

David Savage figure Drawing

“Drawing is a natural extension of what we ask you to do in the workshop, we ask our students to use their eyes in an extraordinarily intense way, to look much harder than usual to really see; if a surface is flat; if a curve is true.Drawing is synergistic to this. Drawing is looking, the more you draw the better you see and, like any muscle, the stronger you will become at looking, and seeing.”

-David Savage


Stand On Three Legs: DESIGN, MARKET, and PRODUCTION

You can make the loveliest furniture in the world but if nobody knows you are there you will go without work. Learn how to become visible, attending exhibitions, selling through galleries, direct marketing through the web and public relations. You will learn about ad words, marketing, copy writing, list building, and niche keyword marketing. Attending exhibitions and selling direct rather than giving a high percentage to galleries or shops is a recommended route to market. You will learn to stand on three legs not two. Design, Market, and Production.

Course Fee

Our Twelve Month Woodwork Courses cost £18,000 GBP

  • The 50 Week Professional Designer Maker Course costs £18,000 GBP
  • The 50 Week Professional Maker Course costs £14,000 GBP
  • The 25 week Professional Designer Maker Course costs £11,000 GBP
  • The 12 week Professional Designer Maker Course costs £7,000 GBP

The professional 50 week furniture maker course

The Maker course is the same as the Designer Maker Course, except that it is aimed at those of you who, for whatever reason, cannot take the risk of setting yourself up as a furniture DESIGNER maker.

The act of changing direction from the job or place you are in now to your new future as a furniture maker is enough.

Becoming a great maker is enough for now. In this year you keep everything you make in the first six months, but in the second six months you will become an unpaid member of staff making for David’s clients or making pieces to David’s design for galleries. We expect you to have got up to that high standard of work in six short months.

Everything you make in workshop hours during the second six months will remain with the workshop when you leave. At the end of that time we will help you select a short list of potential workshops to approach for a job. We will tell you how to best go about it and provide you with photographs of the pieces you have made for us to date.

To secure a good job as “an improver” your attitude and your core skills are what really count

I have every respect for people who feel that they need qualifications to become a furniture maker. I have played my part in the establishment of National Vocation Qualifications in Hand Crafted furniture levels 1 to 3 and seen those qualifications systematically destroyed over the past twenty years.

WE HAVE THE REPUTATION WITHIN OUR INDUSTRY TO GET YOU INSIDE THE DOOR

When a maker comes here for a job the last thing I do is look at his or her qualifications, I see their work, in photographs and in real life, I ask them to do some work for me to see how they go about it, I check out their tools, they say a lot. Its called a trade test, every good workshop does something similar, and finally, I call up the last guy that was his trainer or employer and ask what is this person really like to work with.

In this context your method of applying, your letter, how you deal with the interview and your attitude is what really counts. We have seen most of the trade tests of most of the mayor workshops and sent many students to successful interview properly equipped to succeed. We know how to do this and WE HAVE THE THE REPUTATION WITHIN OUR INDUSTRY to get you inside the door. The rest is up to you.

ian milnes chair

What Reed Stanley says:

“Hi David, and everyone else in the school. I’m just writing to tell you that the moment I got back I had job offers like crazy. I accepted a job at “Wasatch Woodwrights Inc”. and I now am making beautiful furniture and some cabinetry.

They have made a huge difference in my job options.

Because of what I was taught at the School I started out as the second highest paid employee, and am loving my job! I just want to tell you thanks David for all the skills I learned while attending your school. They have made a huge difference in my job options. I am also building furniture on the side my boss lets me use his whole shop for my own projects. Thanks again David, please keep in touch I need you to motivate me into drawing and painting more. And for those of you who are thinking about going to school at David’s workshop I can not say enough good things about it. It was the best year of my life and if I was rich I would still be there and I guarantee I’d still be learning the whole time”.
Reed Stanley
PS “please throw something at Harry for me.”

Hand planing a piece of sycamore

WHAT IT COSTS

  • The 50 Week Professional Designer Maker Course costs £18,000 GBP
  • The 50 Week Professional Maker Course costs £14,000 GBP
  • The 25 week Professional Designer Maker Course costs £11,000 GBP
  • The 12 week Professional Designer Maker Course costs £7,000 GBP

This is your investment in yourself. Check out the great work being done by our students in the student furniture design gallery, see the new emerging businesses set up by former students and see the established workshops on our special ‘crit days’. All are changing and growing a step at a time. You could do this with the proper training.

Our Guarantee To You. Risk free try out.

Taking a year out is a big step. We know this and have helped many people take that step. We know that managing the risk is the key to it so we will help you assess this workshop at no cost to yourself. We run one week Master classes with only two or three students. Take the “Basics” Master class, the cost of this is £750, get the feel of the place, meet the students, talk with the staff, try it out. If you then can pay a deposit on a one of the courses above before the end of your week we will discount your year course fee by £750. I CANT BE FAIRER THAN THAT CAN I?

TICK-TOCK, TICK-TOCK …

great thing time, just keeps ticking away, sooo…

do something about it now!

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