Woodworking Courses

Daren teaching a woodworking tutorial with some students

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. Things made as well as I can. I would like people to pay me for it. Not a lot, but enough to go on making. Next time maybe I can make a 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 1985.

Our Woodworking Courses build one upon the other. This gives 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.


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.


David Savage furniture design - Dubai dining table

 ” You must have made a shed load of furniture!”

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, about 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...
Come and meet the professional team here at Rowden

Click here

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

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


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 and furniture making course student using handtools


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?


    Learn from Jonathan  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.


    Learn in a small tutor group with either Phil or Jonathan  how to take your own journey a step forward.


    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.


    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.


    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


    Gather confidence by doing it right, Deep Practice of key hand skills.


    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 and Duncan Roberts are supreme examples of a skilled and experienced makers, doing it right in front of you making David’s inspirational pieces.


    Gain the experience needed to earn a 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.”


    We have a growing number of alumni running successful workshops that have started as a discussion over a business plan with Jonathan. We have a purpose built studio set up just for for Rowden post graduates. Here we help mentor the next crucial step  “Taking it to Market.”  Your  business could be next.

expert woodworking demonstration for students on one of our furniture making courses

    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.


    Stay on a work with us for a second year. Post graduate students provide valuable role models and experience and  within the workshop. Their focus is in developing new products that can be test marketed under our guidance and supervision.


    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.


    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.


    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)


    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.


    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


    “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

Toolset for a cabinet maker on our furniture making courses


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 fourteen and eighteen full time students are here at any one time. Our staff are Daren, Jon, Duncan, all full time skilled makers and teachers. Ed is here every other day as well as Digital artist Phil . Rose currently takes all short courses and gives teaching support when needed.  Jonathan is here once a week . We cannot always guarantee this, as people come and go, but we aim to give a student teacher ratio comparable with the best.


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 Daren or Ed or Duncan or Jon 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.

Expert teaching - demonstrating dovetails

Three month woodworking courses
Get a real feel for the community here on one of longer woodworking courses.

On this three month course you will get to grips with the basics, learn about the different tools and get to know more about the timber and materials you will be working with.

Take a look, give us a call and have a chat. With our friendly team of experts at hand we'll be happy to answer your questions. Click here for more information

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

Matt using dividers to measure up his timber

Six month woodworking course
This course is designed for you with full expert tuition

Not only will you learn all of the basics such as the different tools you will be using but also get a chance to try some of our more advanced projects. These will include how to draw up a big project such as a workbench, French Polish your own jewellery box. You will also learn how to draw and can take part in our design courses, an invaluable part of the making process. Click here for more information


For those of you who know that this is what you want to do in life, check out the ever popular 12 month 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, these 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 or you could make pieces for friends or family. 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.

David Savage designer maker - Gracie sisters

 Build a genuine business plan

By the end of the year with the help of Jonathan 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


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 £18,900 GBP

  • The 50 Week Professional Designer Maker Course costs £18,900 GBP
  • The 50 Week Professional Maker Course costs £14,700 GBP
  • The 25 week Professional Designer Maker Course costs £11,550 GBP
  • The 12 week Professional Designer Maker Course costs £7,350 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 maker. You need a job after this.

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 Rowden 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.


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 rocking chair - side profile

What Reed Stanley says:

“Hi Daren, 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


  • The 50 Week Professional Designer Maker Course costs £18,900 GBP
  • The 50 Week Professional Maker Course costs £14,700 GBP
  • The 25 week Professional Designer Maker Course costs £11,550 GBP
  • The 12 week Professional Designer Maker Course costs £7,350 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 £790, get the feel of the place, meet the students, talk with the staff, try it out. If you then decide to commit to either of the 50 week courses we will discount your year course fee by £790. I CANT BE FAIRER THAN THAT CAN I?


great thing time, just keeps ticking away, sooo…

do something about it now!

More content
than you can shake a stick at

Hand tools for a cabinet maker

Read article

An Introduction to Art and Design

Read article

Keeping it all in Proportion

Read article

Parana Pine

Find Out More

Low angle Bench Planes

Read More

Marking knives

Read More

Japanese chisels

Read More