Weekend Box Making Course

Weekend Box Making Course


Weekend Box Making Course - October 18

Last weekend, we welcomed six students to our Box Making course. Over just two days, our students made this solid wood box in a variation of timbers as chosen by each individual student.

Each student learnt how to select, set up and sharpen hand tools such as chisels and planes, learnt how to use marking out tools to accurately measure and mark out timber while working to a drawing, hand tool techniques, routing, assembly and glue up - and finishing!

It was a very productive and fun weekend, and some excellent box projects were made. A few of the students enjoyed the course so much they are coming back for our weekend veneering course on the 10th and 11th November. We look forward to welcoming them back!

A homage to Sam Maloof: Henry's Olive Ash Rocking Chair

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A homage to Sam Maloof: Henry's Olive Ash Rocking Chair

A Homage to Sam Maloof, Henry's Olive Ash Rocking Chair.

Some students come to course wanting to make furniture only of their own design. While other students are happy to make furniture inspired by other makers for what it will teach them in terms of process and technique. Some students choose to do both.

Student, Henry Baltesz chose to make a Sam Maloof inspired rocking chair as his final project on our full time furniture designer maker course. As you can see from the images of Henry's chair above, the result was absolutely spectacular.

Sam Maloof is acknowledged as one of the finest woodworkers of our time and a leader of the California modern arts movement until his death in 2009. You can read more about Sam Maloof here:

This style of rocking chair is one of the most popular styles that Sam Maloof made and Maloof’s rocking chairs were highly esteemed by two presidents – Reagan and Carter. Maloof made his rocking chairs most often in walnut, but here, Henry has made it in a beautiful Olive Ash with some Walnut detail on the rails.

While making the chair, Henry's project also inspired our American student (Maurice) to visit Sam Maloof’s house while he was back in the States. You can see more of Sam Maloof’s incredible house here Sam’s home was hand built by Sam and his assistants over 40 years. It is an exceptional finely crafted wooden house, with hand crafted details right down to the door latches and hinges. The house is situated in Alta Loma, California.

Getting back to Maloof inspired rocking chairs….

We do encourage our students to have a go at making a chair, as chairs are one of the more challenging items for aspiring furniture makers to produce.

A Sam Maloof inspired rocking chair is quite high on the spectrum of challenging chairs to make, and as such, I think Henry felt this was a good project in terms of the amount that he learnt from it. It was also a project that allowed quite a lot of freedom in terms of the shaping, much of which Henry shaped by eye.

It’s a very successful final project, and importantly, we’ve all tried the chair for comfort! We are tough critics, but we can safely say it’s one of the comfiest chairs we’ve ever sat in. We are just sad that we can’t keep it for ourselves!

Why not head over to our Instagram page to see more images and footage of Henry making the Sam Maloof inspired rocker?

£50 Project Time


£50 Project Time!


At my desk in the design office, I'm fortunate to have the advantage of listening into Jane Cleal's theory sessions with the students.

One of my favourite challenges Jane sets the students is the £50 project.

The brief is to design an item that can be replicated 20 times in 20 hours. Each item should aim to achieve £50 from a buyer.

It is an exercise in designing for simplicity and batch production, market research in terms of what a buyer would consider worthy of a £50 price tag and whether the item should best appeal to need or aesthetics, and budgeting and costing.

At the end of the project, the other students each vote on whether they think a buyer would pay £50 for the items designed.

It is so much trickier than it sounds, but I'm always impressed with the ideas that come up - and I of course  like to join in with the end votes! 

We've had cake stands, book rests and spectacle stores, mud kitchens, guitar stands - all sorts!

Ben, Toby and Mark are pictured here with numerous ideas in their sketch books. I can't wait to see what they have come up with.

Congratulations to Wilma and Henry for Securing Jobs at Artichoke Ltd.

Jobs for Henry and Wilma at Artichoke



Congratulations to students Wilma and Henry for securing jobs with Artichoke Ltd

Today, our student, Wilma Wyatt starts her new job at Cheddar based fine bespoke furniture and interiors company - Artichoke Ltd.

Our student, Henry still has another month of his course to finish, but will join Wilma at Artichoke in May.

For those students who would like to pursue a route to employment, we will give you  support in finding the role and employer that is right for you.

Not all students will know exactly what they want to do, or where they might like to work when they first begin the course, but that is something we will help you research and explore in your time here.

We'll use our knowledge of South West and UK based bespoke furniture companies to suggest furniture companies and workshops that might be of interest to you.

We will also advise you on what workshop managers will be looking for in a CV, application and interview - or what to expect from a trade test. You can read more about what workshop managers look for in a cabinetmakers cv in our previous blog (about 13 posts down!)

When Wilma began at Williams and Cleal, she had no previous woodworking experience and she leaves the course at a competant designer/maker. We couldn't be more proud of her for securing a job with Artichoke and we wish her all the best for her future.

Ratten Revival

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Ratten Revival

Ratten Revival

Congratulations to past students Maria Del Mar Gomez and Charles Byron, whose work has been featured in the Sunday Times Home section.

As part of a feature on wicker furniture, Byron and Gomez's Patria Cabinet was selected by the Sunday Times amongst several other pieces from makers showing how rattan is taking pride of place indoors again.

For more information on the Patria Cabinet, see the Byron and Gomez website link here:

How Did We Do? Reviews of our short furniture making courses.


How did we do? Reviews of our short furniture making courses.

How Did We Do? Reviews of our short furniture making courses.

It's good to know when you are doing things right, and even better to know that the teaching we have delivered, has inspired and motivated students to go on and do more!

We were delighted to recieve some positively great feedback from our one week Introduction to Fine Furniture Making students in February (even though their course got temporarily delayed by the snow from the Beast from the East). You can see what they had to say about the course below....

In addition, Gordon has decided to take advantage of an option that we offer to all those on our one week courses.

If after your week's course with us, you decide that you'd like to go on and enrol in our one year furniture designer maker course, we will offset the fee that you have paid for the week's course, against the cost of the one year course as a thank you!  

As such, Gordon starts his full time course with us in May, and we are delighted to welcome him back.

So over to Fung, Heather, Julian, Paul and Gordon for thier feedback on our Introduction to Fine Furniture Making Course!


"Fantastic beginner's course with well thought-out projects. Students are mentored individually to develop at their own pace. Woodworking skills are gradually instilled by experienced tutors in a modern and well-equipped facility. Highly recommended for anyone serious about woodworking!"


"I did the one week introduction to fine furniture making. It is a fantastic course for both beginners and experienced woodworkers. Students are given a clear, well thought out project, designed to learn basic hand tool skills and put them into practice. Justin was extremely knowledgeable and patient - especially with us beginners! At the end of the 5 days a beautiful piece was created which highlighted our new and amazing woodworking skills. Thank you so much for a fun and enjoyable week and helping me learn some great new skills."


"W&C have a great setup for training, with a large, well-stocked workshop. I did the one week introduction course, which covered a lot of techniques without being overwhelming. Justin is a great teacher and I would highly recommend the course."


"Just completed the one week introductory course and it totally exceeded my expectations. Wanting to get into fine woodwork Justin proved to be the perfect tutor with an obvious mountain of knowledge and skills, ensuring once shown how to each individual was mentored on the hands on elements. The course content and pace was also spot on with the benefit of a completed project at the end. The workshop environment completed the package which I would highly recommend to anyone interested into fine woodwork. It has given me the basics needed and definitely ignited a desire to hone skills learned."


"I have just completed the one week course with Williams and Cleal and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in learning about making things out of wood to a professionally high standard. Making  a Japanese Tea Table (or is it a cheese board?) in the course of a week proved to be both challenging, and rewarding in an environment where Jane, Justin and Kate made us feel really welcome


The joy of a log burner in the middle of the workshop during cold weather is not to be underestimated. The 'Beast from the East' arrived during the week but Justin was really flexible in helping us all finish the project in spite of the fact that some people needed to return to other parts of the world whilst most of us couldn’t get near the workshop because of the deep snow."


If you'd like more information or an informal chat about our courses, please feel free to call the office.


The Beast from the East

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The Beast From the East and the return of our one week introduction to fine furniture making students.

The Beast from the East and the return of our One Week Fine Furniture Making Students

This week, we welcome back three students from our February One Week Introduction to Fine Furniture Making course - Julian, Heather and Gordon.

The Beast from the East winter storm tried... and succeeded in snowing off two days of the course in February. 

However, whatever the weather, our tutors were keen that the students didn't miss out on any of their training. So we welcome them back to continue their course -  and finish their tea tray project at the school this week.

We look forward to posting their finished projects on Friday!

Trip to Vastern's Timber Yard

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Trip to Vastern's Timber Yard


Throughout the year, we like to take our students offsite on trips that will enrich their learning and understanding of timber, materials, cabinetmaking and the bespoke furniture industry.

A particular favourite is a trip to Vastern Timber in Wiltshire, the countries largest and most established hardwood sawmill.

Vastern's Timber is a family business, owned and run by three members of the Barnes family; Peter, Jon and Tom. Yesterday, Tom Barnes took time out of his day to show our students around Vasterns and to share his incredible and detailed understanding and knowledge of timber with us. We always look forward to a visit to Vastern's, as the information that we learn there is always incredibly interesting and valuable to us in terms of understanding and selecting the best wood as furniture makers.

Vastern's timber have four log-converting bandmills, computer controlled drying kilns and well equipped machining faciliities; which enables Vasterns to process both hardwoods and softwoods and they  cut and process their own logs. This means that they can offer a range of species, grades and specifications that may not be available at other merchants.

A trip to Vasterns is also a great opportunity for our students to stock up on materials for their upcoming projects. Henry had the opportunity to select and check several boards of Olive Ash for his Sam Maloof inspired rocking chair -  and came back to the workshop with a car load of beautiful timber to get started on.

For more information on other trips that we run to compliment learning on our Furniture Designer Maker Year long course - please feel free to contact the office for an informal chat.

The Next Steps - The Incubation Workshop

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Next Steps – The Incubation Workshop

Taking the next steps - the incubation workshop...

There’s always a mix of feelings on a student’s last day – we are always sad to say goodbye – but equally excited to follow their progress out in the real world.

Student, Jan Lennon, has impressed us since day of her one year furniture designer maker course.

Joining us from a CGI and product designer background, Jan’s ability to use drawing and 3D visualisation software to develop and plan her designs, has been nothing short of impressive. She has a natural flair for design, and she is inquisitive about a variety of technologies that has subsequently enriched her practical work. It’s been a pleasure to teach Jan the high level cabinetmaking skills to help realise her designs.

So it is with great curiosity we follow Jan’s next steps. That is even easier since Jan has decided to take on bench space in the Williams and Cleal incubation workshop!

We know that the start-up period for any new furniture business is costly, and it can be challenging to equip any new workshop space. The incubation workshop is part of our continuing commitment to help our students, and with the school only a few miles down the road, we are always very happy to help and advise those in the incubation workshop on their projects - even after their course. We look forward to Jan popping in for a cup of (proper) coffee to show us her future designs and projects.

Jan will be using the incubation workshop bench space to make a wardrobe in Sweet Chestnut – and it will feature 3D printed handles depicting an alpine mountain and hut landscape.

Jan will also be sharing the incubation workshop with two of our past students – Maria and Charlie – who have been operating their successful furniture business out of the incubation space for two years now.

Charlie and Maria have worked hard to build up their business, Byron and Gomez, and have built up a good client base – promoting their brand at numerous exhibitions and trade shows. They have also been proactive at applying for and winning a place on craft business development schemes such as the Crafts Council’s Hothouse development programme - raising the profile of their new company within the craft community.

You can find out more about Byron and Gomez at or follow them on Instagram @byronandgomez.

If you would like to find out more about our furniture making incubation workshop, or are interested in renting bench space, please contact us on 01984 667555 or


Top – The incubation workshop

Bottom – Jan Lennon working on her Walnut and Olive Ash Dressing Table

Applying Gold Leaf in Furniture Making


Applying Gold Leaf in Furniture Making

Of all the optional set projects on our courses, a particular favourite is box making. Why?

Well because this project, is one of the earliest opportunities for newer students to flex their design skills. This project not only brings together essential basic skills like measuring, cutting, dovetails, interpreting drawings, choosing materials and veneer -  but it also offers the student  design freedom with regards to veneer cutting and marquetry on the box lid.

Students take inspiration from a number of sources. We’ve had Viking inspired symbology, designs in the style of Banksy, Orla Kiely inspired repeating patterns and a whole host of contemporary and more traditional box lid designs.

In addition to the marquetry on the box, students are encouraged to explore a range of finishes and detail. For our student Tim, the technique of applying gold leaf in furniture making was something that he was keen to explore.

Guest tutor, Maria Del Mar Gomez of Byron and Gomez, came into the furniture school to demonstrate the technique of applying gold leaf to wood. Within her business, Maria produces many pieces that feature the application of gold leaf, and she had much experience and advice to share with our furniture students on the subject.

Although a seemingly straightforward process, it has a number of nail biting moments – such as when an unexpected breeze in the workshop catches the gold leaf foil…. just as you are about to place it onto the adhesive!

Maria taught our furniture students best practice in Gold Leafing, from application through to burnishing and sealing. Then it was Tim’s turn to have a go (pictured!). Gold leaf was the perfect choice to compliment the rich tones of Tim’s sunburst veneered box lid.

Box making is an optional set project on our 40 week Fine Furniture Making course -  but did you know that you could also opt to make it on our bespoke furniture programmes?

Depending on how complex you want your box design to be and your making speed, it could be achieved on a 5 – 6 week bespoke course.

Interested? Give us a call  to find out more -  or contact us here.

What will your box lid design be? 

Tick Tock...designing the Grandfather Clock

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Tick Tock...designing the Grandfather Clock


The Grandfather Clock.

A piece that is arguably described by some woodworking publications - as the ultimate project -  on account of the advanced cabinetmaking skills that can be involved in the making process.

Also known as the longcase clock, or tall pendulum clock, the name ‘Grandfather clock’ was adopted after the well-known song ‘Grandfather’s Clock’ written in 1876 by Henry Clay Work.  

“My grandfather’s clock

Was too large for the shelf,

So it stood ninety years on the floor.”

Fitting to the namesake of the song’s writer, our student Henry, happens to be in the early stages of planning his very own design/make of a Grandfather clock.

Henry has been inspired to make this piece by his own grandfather’s love of the longcase clock and the numerous clocks that adorn his grandparents’ house.The clock case design is an excellent study for Henry, because it calls for two very different functions.

The first is practical – how to enclose the clock, protecting the movement from dust and displaying the dial.

The second is the aesthetic function; how the case design and timber will reflect the owner’s tastes and interests - and the impression that it will create in a room.

Over the course of centuries, the practical and functional role of clocks has been masked by design and embellishment. In the nineteenth and early 20th century most clocks were made to convey an impression, usually of opulence, to make a statement about the owner. The lavish designs and exotic timber of some clocks made them more of an ornament, than a timepiece.

From a practical cabinetmaking perspective, the grandfather clock will present many interesting making challenges for Henry, including mouldings, veneering and jointing.

Moreover, Henry’s grandfather clock project is a great example of the freedom our students have on our bespoke and full time courses -  to choose and drive forward their own ideas, projects and designs.

If there is something you want to make, we will get you there in terms of both practical and theoretical assistance. 

From planning through to completion, our teaching team are there to support, advise you and demonstrate the techniques you need realise your designs  - while all the time broadening your skill set.

If you too are passionate about a beautiful piece that you’d like to make and feel that one of our courses may be for you, then please feel free to call us for an informal chat on 01984 667555  or e.mail us on

School Visit to 100% Design and TENT for London Design Week


School Visit to 100% Design and TENT for London Design Week


 On Friday 22nd September, Jane Cleal took four students to London to visit the 100% Design exhibition and TENT.

Trips like these are optional at the school, but Jane Cleal is a real advocate of our students attending design events and exhibitions because they improve awareness of production manufacturing techniques, keep students aware of the current trends in design and interiors, offer good design inspiration and are a good insight into how industry presents itself in terms of stalls, branding etc.

It’s also a jolly day out from the workshop!

Our students really enjoyed both exhibitions and got very different things out of both 100% Design and TENT.

From 100% design, many of the students found inspiration in the pieces that they saw – but also found it very beneficial for making links with suppliers. Tim was interested to discover veneer suppliers and leather manufacturers that were in the locality of where he lives – and he was able to talk to them about new production processes and advances in leather printing that he was unaware of before his visit.

All of our students found TENT really interesting, with some preferring it over 100% Design for the reason that you can meet smaller makers and have a better conversation with them about their design and making process. Our students commented that TENT felt like a better place to network, and that in being able to talk with the smaller makers, there were useful discoveries to be made such as new and interesting materials being used in design - and how to work with different materials.

As such our students came back with ideas incorporating new materials they had not been aware of before their visit.

It also shows just how important it is to take time out of the workshop to connect with other makers and experience where the industry is - and where it’s going.

For more information about other trips that we offer our full time students, feel free to give the office a call on 01984 667555.

A great deal can be achieved on our short furniture making courses...


A great deal can be achieved on our short furniture making courses....

"The course was incredible. Everybody was really accommodating and approachable, including fellow students. It was great that so much was covered in a very short time, and in lots of detail too. I would return in an instant!" Dan, August course 2017

"Just a note to say thanks to  you, Jim and Justin for the course last week.  I very much enjoyed it and given my lack of experience and skills was amazed and delighted at how well the bookends turned out." Allen, August course 2017

Five new students gave up a week of August sunshine (....well sunny spells amoungst cloud!) to come and try their hand at cabinetmaking on our One Week Introduction to Fine Furniture Making course. 

Helen, Tom, Dan, John and Allen came to the course as beginners or with a few basic skills, and after completing the week with us saw their skills and knowledge advanced considerably. By the end of the week, they were all turning out dovetails with the same precision, accuracy and beauty as our full time furniture students. The course fired their enthusiasm for furniture making, so much so, that they are tempted to rejoin us for future bespoke courses! In fact - we welcome Allen back for a two month course in October!

Year on year, we evaluate and refine both our long, short and bespoke courses to ensure that our students are getting the very finest experience and tutoring in making high quality bespoke fine furniture.

This year, we've decided to have a change to our set project. We considered a range of small projects very carefully for the opportunities that they would provide to the students in terms of knowledge, hand and measuring skills, understanding of basic joints, understanding basic workshop drawings and choosing/working with different timbers.  After careful deliberation, we settled on making a pair of bookends -  which as well as being incredibly useful  - provide a wide scope of learning experience in the making process.

Your beautifully dovetailed bookends can also be displayed as pride of place in your home and your work admired by all those who visit you.

For more information on our next short woodworking courses, or short bespoke programmes. Please call us on 01984  667555 or e.mail us on

Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design 2017


Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design 2017


Last week the annual Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design took place at the Thirlestaine Long Gallery at Cheltenham College in Gloucester. CCD is the largest exhibition of contemporary desigher-maker furniture in the UK and it draws visitors and exhibitors from around the world. The exhibition showcases the work of the very best makers and emerging talent in the world of furniture design and making.

It is a really important calendar event for our students - and  we strongly encourage our students to not only submit their work for entry into the Alan Peters Award for Excellence (which gives three new designer-makers the opportunity to win free exhibition space for their entry at the Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design) but also to visit the Celebration of Craftsmanship and immerse themselves in the design styles and work exhibited there.

Our current students attended the show's VIP opening evening, and met with several past Williams and Cleal students - all now successfully running their own bespoke furniture companies and exhibiting their work at the Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design.

It was great to see past students Damain Robinson from BlytheHart Made, Maria and Charlie from Byron and Gomez, Irene Banham from Irene Banham Furniture and Thomas from Thomas Whittingham Furniture all recieving great interest in their work. Congratulations to our student Finn James, one of the winners of this year's Alan Peters Award for Excellence who won the opportunity to exhibit his 'Brompton' coffee table at this years show.

The Crossover Between Cabinet Making and Digital Manufacture

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The Crossover Between Cabinet Making and Digital Manufacture


In furniture design, the advent of CNC machines and digital printers have enabled designers to reinterpret the expectations of the medium. We can now combine traditional craft skills with complex contemporary twists made possible with elements that have been digitally manufactured.

There are some effects that are difficult to achieve solely with hand tools, and equally there are hand techniques that are not efficiently replicated well by CNC or digital printing – but the crossover of the two can push the boundaries of furniture design to make something truly unique and beautiful.

At Williams and Cleal, we have an expanding student library of design and furniture making books – which students are free to borrow at any time. The book that has the students talking this month is ‘Digitally Handmade’ by Lucy Johnston. The topic is particularly apt, since our student Jan is experimenting with digital printing to add a unique level of detail to the handles on her latest design, which would otherwise be exceptionally difficult to make by hand.

Jan comes from a background in Computer Graphic Imaging Design and Imaging, and has just invested in her own Prusa i3 M25 – kit build 3D printer. Jan has designed some drawer handles that take the shape of a small mountain range complete with contoured hills, tiny pine trees and a mountainside cabin – a scene in miniature that would be virtually impossible to create by hand.

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Jan has so far experimented with prototypes made in PLA - (PLA) or polylactic acid. It is a bio-degradable thermoplastic polyester derived from corn starch, sugarcane or cassava root. Jan is yet to decide what the final handles will be printed in. It takes about 4 hours for Jan's printer to create the handle prototypes. Jan builds the designs herself in software compatible for the 3D printer.

The crossover of digital manufacturing methods and furniture design is part of our design theory sessions here at Williams and Cleal. Jane Cleal has incorporated digital production methods into her own work and shares her experiences of these processes with our students. Jane’s most recent ‘Circle’ bowl coffee table, used CNC production methods to manufacture the stack laminated birch ply of the bowl and complimented by a lid made in Macassar Ebony Veneer. Many of our students also pick out Jane’s CNC cut bowl as a favourite from the W & C gallery.


Our tutors encourage and will help to nurture the designs of students who choose to explore mixing traditional craftsmanship with digital manufacture. We will also connect you with companies to whom Williams and Cleal outsource CNC or digital manufacture work. This way, the size and complexity of the equipment and skills that we have access to, is infinitely surperior to the machines we could accomodate at our own workshop.  

If you’d like to see more of the possibilities in furniture making enhanced by digital manufacturing methods, we suggest looking at the ‘Cinderella Table’ or the ‘Lectori Salutem’ by Jeroen Verhoevenm the ‘Three Drawer George’ by Gareth Neal or the ‘Fractal Table’ by Werteloberfell – or indeed many of the other artists covered both in Digitally Handmade and across the internet.

We’ll be posting more about our student Jan’s journey with her digitally printed handles in upcoming posts.

Kerfing and Free Form Laminating

Kerfing and Free Form Laminating

Kerfing and Free Form Laminating

On a Thursday, we normally have ‘Hand Tool Thursday’s’ where our tutor Jim likes to showcase various items from his collection of accumulated and inherited hand tools. However, this Thursday was all about demonstrating different wood bending techniques to the students.

First up was Kerfing. Kerf can be defined as the width of the wood that is removed by the cutting process.

Kerfing is the process of cutting a series of kerfs (cuts) along the side of a piece of wood in close proximity, in order to allow the wood to be pliable enough to follow a curve. When cutting kerfs, the wood needs to be cut  deep enough to the edge of the wood that the remaining fibres are free to bend. To cut too deeply will result in the wood breaking in two, or making cuts that are not deep enough will result in the wood snapping. It’s best to experiment, but you’ll most likely find that an uncut width of 1/8 in. or thereabouts works for most woods.

Your kerf spacing will affect both the maximum radius that you can bend, and how smooth your curve will look – the closer the kerfs are together, the tighter the radius you can bend. You can only kerf by crosscutting as to do so with the grain increases the likelihood of the piece splitting.

For the demonstration, Jim cut kerfs that loosely demonstrated the effect. In practice, you would normally use a formula to calculate the exact distance between your kerfs, to achieve the smoothness of the curve you require. Many kerf bending formulas are available online.

While kerfing is an easy and useful technique for bending wood, it is suited to applications where a curve is aesthetic rather than structural, as kerfing does not create a form with great strength.

The magic of kerfing never wanes and all the students (and office staff) were keen to have a play.

Next up…. was free form laminating.

Jim demonstrated a range of different free-form laminating methods using constructional veneer. Take a look at our Instagram feed to see the laminationsglued and clamped into shape, and vacuum pressed.

Constructional veneer comes in a variety of timbers and it is thin and pliable enough to bend. You can simply spread glue on their surfaces and clamp them in layers to the shape that you desire and leave in place for the glue to set. In Jim’s demonstration, the lamination was clamped and wrapped with a ribbon of old tyre inner tube to keep the layers tight together until the glue had set. It is the hardened glue between each layer of veneer that holds the shape of the twist or curve. The multiple glue lines between each layer make the assembly strong, stable and rigid.

As a variation on this method, Jim demonstrated the same concept, but using a vacuum press to hold the shape of the glued layers. The constructional veneer was glued, shaped and then pre-wrapped tight with release film to prevent the breather fabric getting sucked between the laminations, or sticking to the laminate while it is being compressed. As the air is being evacuated, the bag is smoothed out over the assembly to make sure there are no significant wrinkles where it touches the veneer.


The advantage of laminating in a vacuum press is that the process creates an even atmospheric pressure over the glue up, making for a consistent strong assembly.

Head to our Instagram page to see more videos and photos of Jim’s wood bending demonstrations. Click here.

Shortlisted for the 2017 Wood Awards

Shortlisted for the 2017 Wood Awards!

Shortlisted for the 2017 Wood Awards!

We are thrilled to announce that student Damian Robinson's Hex Cabinet has been shortlisted for the 2017 Wood Awards!

The Hex Cabinet was Damian's final project during his course at Williams and Cleal. 

The inspiration for the Hex Drinks Cabinet comes from the colour and uniformity of bees’ nest found in the Damian's garden. Hand cut veneers in contrasting timbers and grain patterns were used for the honeycomb. Damian laid the veneer hexagons out in sequence while referring to the actual nest. The edges of the doors were designed to meet in a line that followed the interlinking hexagons.  The inset brass levers devised to open the doors were made in the same size of the hexagons to mesh seamlessly with the overall design. English bog oak, dating from 3,300BC, was selected to set off the complex honeycomb pattern without interference.

You can read more about the 2017 Wood Awards Shortlist here.

You can also visit Damian Robinson's company website - Blythehart Made at:

or follow Damian on instagram at:

Well done Damian!

2017 Somerset Guild of Craftsmen Furniture Prize!

2017 Somerset Guild of Craftsmen Furniture Prize!

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Drum roll please.....

We are pleased to announce that student Alistair Buchan received second prize for his Jurassic inspired table in this years Somerset Guild Furniture Exhibition.

The table was made in English Oak and sandblasted to give a weathered appearance. Patinated Bronze Supporting Fins were used to support the table segments and it was a great exercise in solid wood construction.

In the exhibitions 'People's Choice award' we are also thrilled that Williams and Cleal students received the most votes, Alistair for his table. Alberto for his 'La Negra' chair and Laura for her folding table.

Alberto Perez'  stunning La Negra chair was Alberto's first project and the design really challenged and pushed his making skills - with beautiful results. Made in Walnut.

Laura Aldrich Blake's retro style drop leaf table with formica surface was made to a brief about batch production, so was made using various jigs so that it could be easily repeated in small numbers. It was a challenging piece to make with tapered cylindrical legs and lots of angles.

The photo shows our Lead tutor, James Ralph, accepting awards on behalf of the students.

Student Submit Enteries to the Alan Peters Award for Excellence and The Somerset Guild of Craftsman Furniture Prize.

Students Submit Enteries to the Alan Peters Award for Excellence, and The Somerset Guild of Craftsman Furniture Prize.

We wish student Finn James the best of luck with the entry of his low coffee table in the 2017 Alan Peters Award for Excellence.

Finn laminated his table from 10 laters of 5mm flexi-ply and it was veneered in beautiful figured quarter sawn oak. To emphasize the shape the edges were coloured a very light grey.

The  Alan Peters award is designed to encourage and promote emerging young talent within the bespoke furniture industry. It gives up to three new designer-makers the opportunity to win free exhibition space for their entry at Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design. This allows winners to exhibit and network with established and highly regarded professionals within a selling environment, gaining valuable experience and exposure to a very discerning and knowledgeable audience.

Fingers crossed for Finn!

We also wish the very best of luck to students Laura Aldrich Blake, Jan Lennon and Alberto Perez for their entries into the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen Annual Students Furniture Prize. The students all took their furniture to the Wells Exhibition Gallery last week. We eagerly award the judges decision in a few weeks time.

We actively encourage our students to enter furniture prizes and to exhibit their work, to get their design style and name out there - to become visible as emerging makers. It is also an important opportunity to network and make contacts, or to generate publicity in starting out your career as a furniture maker.