After a very busy few weeks building and preparing the woodland workshop (and exhibiting at the Royal Cornwall show), we finally ran the first course proper. Despite a pretty awful weather forecast for the first day we felt pretty much well prepared and raring to go, with a good supply of fresh sweet-chestnut logs, sharp tools, tea and cake, and four enthusiastic nascent green woodworkers.
I must say that we could not have had a nicer bunch of people for our first go. Elizabeth, B, Kevin and James were as enthusiastic and keen to learn and share as I could have hoped, and everyone seemed to settle in really well. Pretty soon the woods were filled with the sounds of splitting, chopping and shaving wood, not to mention some great conversation, philosophical debate, and jokes that were highly variable in subject and it has to be said, quality!
Over the three days we covered many of the fundamentals of green woodworking, including tool safety and handling, riving, using a break, chopping (axe work), shaving, adzing, boring holes and shaping and fitting leg joints with wedges.
The aim of this introductory course is to provide students with a foundation of skills crucial to working with green wood, started with in the round, and processed using simple tools in a woodland setting. I feel also that it is important for people to take something physical away with them along with the all important knowledge and techniques learned. I was delighted that everyone managed to make a beautiful 3 legged or 4 legged slab bench to take home with them. The 3 legged benches are the basis for a shave horse and will be completed on a later 2 day course.
By the afternoon of the third day the workshop had become an absolute hive of activity, and I was really pleased and quite surprised at how confident everyone had become with the tools and materials. From my point of view as tutor that was the most important thing, but I also felt that everyone had had a really enjoyable and fun time in a beautiful woodland setting, and crafted something with their own two hands that was really worth keeping and that they would be proud of for years to come.