Woodworking Courses: 35 years at the developmental edge of furniture design and making, you get answers from genuine experts.

A piece of furniture making completed on one of our cabinet making courses A piece of furniture making completed on one of our cabinet making courses A cabinet making course student learning to make chairs Maria's cleverly designed and visually pleasing small cabinet Javier's stunning bespoke hand made laminated modern chairs The gorgeous setting of Rowden Farm where our Woodworking Courses are run throughout the year

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.


So what makes us that Different?

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, they 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 "You must have made a shed load of furniture"

David Savage Furniture - Blonde Gracie David Savage's Love Chairs David Savage Furniture Design - Fenella's Chair

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.

Experts 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.



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




Join us at a point in the year that suits you

You can start a course with us at any time. February, June, September and November are favourites . This way you can see someone only a few months ahead of you and gauge where you will be in a few months. Set targets for yourself. Don't race to go faster, do it right. Make mistakes, that's fine, do it again, we all make mistakes.


NOT A COLLEGE No short terms and time wasting expensive long holidays

This is not a College or School, no eleven week terms then a long expensive rest. We are a real working workshop, that is our history our past, we work for FIFTY WEEKS A YEAR. Our teaching is based upon that year. You need every moment you can get to develop your skills and begin to develop your personal aesthetic. You need time in a supportive, intensive, making environment.

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?


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 eight and twelve full time students are here at any one time. 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.


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


Woodwork Courses - Three Months


Furniture Making Courses - Six Months


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.


David Savage Furniture Design - Blonde Gracie David Savage Fruniture Design - Crazy Dave Brown Oak David Savage Furniture - Andromeda Chair David Savage Furniture Design - Harry's Chair

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.


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 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.

 

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.


David Savage Furniture - Blonde Gracie Woodworking course students helping and guiding each other David Savage Furniture - Andromeda Chair Woodwork course student Dave Young's small Desks A group class being taught outside

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. 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

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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50 week designer maker course
50 week professional maker course
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