Improving and broadening your skillset - Short bespoke woodworking courses tailored for you.


Improving and broadening your skillset - Short bespoke woodworking courses tailored for you.


Sometimes it is difficult to find a woodworking course that fits around your specific time constraints or commitments. Let’s face it, life gets busier and busier – especially if you run your own business, work full time and/or have family commitments – and it can be hard to find time to build on your skill set despite your best intentions to make time to do so.

Even if you have time on your side, the issue can be finding a short course that picks up specifically on the content that you want to learn -  without covering a list of skills that you are already well versed in.

If this is your experience, then Williams and Cleal could be for you. We offer an unusual tailor made service - which allows students to select both the duration and content of their own course as best suits your requirements.

December is shaping up to be a good month for our bespoke courses and we’ve had great interest from beginners, hobbyists and more experienced woodworkers looking to develop their cabinetmaking skills.

In the first week of December, we will be welcoming up to four students on a three day wood finishing course. This course originally came about after an enquiry from one student looking to build on his knowledge of finishing techniques, and the interest grew from others wanting to learn more in this area. We’ll be covering:

  • Pre-finishing such as sanding
  • Oil and wax finishes
  • Traditional oil finishes and modern oil finishes
  • Touching upon spray finishes
  • French polishing
  • Fuming
  • Bleaching
  • Scorching
  • Gold Leaf

Following this course, we’ll be welcoming an intermediate skilled student to a four day tray making course that introduces laminating, veneering, marquetry and inlay skills.

(We have the opportunity to join a further student to this course, so please contact the office on 01984 667555 if this would be of interest to you.)

Perhaps you have a specific area of your skillset that you’d like to develop further; or would like to attend one of our courses, but need the flexibility of a different attendance pattern?  

The best thing to do is to drop us an email or call us for an informal chat, and availability allowing, we can look to put a woodworking course together to suit.

We should all make time for the things that are important in our lives, if developing your skills and knowledge as a cabinetmaker are important, then some time on our bespoke courses could be the key to unlocking further potential in your capabilities as a designer maker.

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

Grandfather clock.jpg

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

Digital printing.jpg

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.

Digital printing Jan - blog.jpg


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.

Commissions Continued....The Art Deco Memory Box

Commissions Continued… The Art Deco Memory Box

Commissions Continued… The Art Deco Memory Box

One of the first projects that our students make here on our course is a box. This starter project is chosen because it introduces them to hand cut veneering and hand cut dovetails, and acquaints students with power tools like the router for the first time.

Furthermore, the box project is the perfect choice for giving them early design input on their box. They lead on the box lid design and have the freedom to arrange or detail the box interior to their own preference. It is also a great introduction to different types of timber, and each student chooses the wood or veneer that they feel best compliments their design or personal taste. Our students will then be shown wood finishing techniques, and are taught how to finish their boxes in the right way and how to apply an oil finish.

Much like the table in our last blog post, the commercial arm of Williams and Cleal shares workshop space with our students and often our commissions provide really interesting case studies.

Such is the case with our latest commission – an Art Deco Inspired Memory Box – which features a high gloss polyester finish that has sparked great interest from the students and our Instagram following.

The client’s specification was for an Art Deco inspired box, large enough to store keepsakes like DVD’s, CD, photographs, documents and small items. The lid is split and opens from the centre, and it is secured shut by magnetic closers.

The box is made in Macassar Ebony, with the Art Deco design picked out in Rippled Sycamore. The box interior is Rippled Sycamore a red Alcantara base.

The box was sprayed with a high gloss polyester finish which is really successful in bringing out the grain on the Macassar Ebony and Rippled Sycamore. It has been a good commission for our students to see how wood finishes can transform a project and draw attention to the rich tones and striking beauty naturally occurring in different woods.

Polyester has the highest molecular structure and strength of all the finishes available and therefore the finished surface is strong, making it less vulnerable to scratching and cleaning. Polyester also has a 100% sheen clear finish for a mirror-like gloss, and it works perfectly for the art deco style of this commission.

You can see a video of the finished box here.

When Craftsmanship Meets Technology - Commission for a 16ft Illuminated Dining Table

When Craftsmanship Meets Technology - Commission for a 16ft Illuminated Dining Table

When Craftsmanship Meets Technology - Commission for a 16ft Illuminated Dining Table


The school shares a workshop with the commercial arm of Williams and Cleal. This augments the learning of our students, who are able to observe our master craftsmen working on a range of different commissions, or to access expert help from our furniture makers in addition our tutor’s time.

Often a commission comes along that breaks the mould of regular work. It demands a combination of technology, craftsmanship and use of alternative and modern materials – and involves a good deal of careful design, research, and expert collaboration to bring the piece together.  These commissions make excellent case studies for interested students, particularly when the processes that we use are at the forefront of developments in industry.

Our recent commission for a 16ft long colour changing illuminated dining table has been just such a project. The client’s specification detailed a dining table with glass legs that would make the table appear to be floating. For the table surface, they wanted a purple eucalyptus veneer with two central glass panels, on which an ‘ethereal’ swirl design could be illuminated by hidden LED’S. The purple veneer was chosen for its rich colour that by contrast would enhance the lit glass panels.

The glass elements of this table required us to work at the leading edge of glass technology. Taking advantage of new laser systems in Europe, we subsurface engraved the clients chosen design into two huge 1580mm glass inserts for the table surface. In subsurface engraving, the lasers are focused below the surface of the glass to create small fractures. This makes visible structures appear inside the glass whilst leaving the surface free of any abrasion. Cerion lasers create four or five layers inside of the glass, as opposed to just one layer on the surface seen in normal Co2 engraving. Therefore there are greater points within the glass to pick up the light, and it creates a cleaner etching to minimize distortion of the design.

Similarly, the floating glass legs were designed and sourced in collaboration with specialist manufacturers in Europe. Superior technology enabled us to source the correct clear structural glass, and to cut the table leg design with unrivalled precision and accuracy from Jane’s drawings.

Williams and Cleal sourced and installed all the LED electrics for the table illumination, and it took a good few tests to achieve a level of illumination that we were happy with. Achieving the optimal lighting level, required the right power of LED’s matched with the position of the LED strips on the glass. We had to find the right distance between diffusion panels and the LED strips hidden in the table recess - to blend out spotlighting effects otherwise seen at the edge of the table. It was important to the client that the lighting source was not visible at the edges of the table -  in order to enhance the magic of the engraving being illuminated.

Jane’s design included a central column underneath the table concealing the LED technology. Williams and Cleal rigged up the technology that enabled our client to change the colour of their table to millions of colour variations by voice command, and by manual control of a colour wheel on a mobile phone app.

The client’s colour preferences were of soft whites, pinks and golds and we were able to preset these choices and store them for their convenience.

The table surface was made here at the workshops from a core of purple Valchromat – chosen for its consistency and density across both the board and colour. It was veneered with Tabu Purple eucalyptus veneer as chosen by our client.

The finished result is an elegant showpiece dining table, with a unique level of interactivity afforded to dinner party hosts and guests in the changing colour features of the glass.

It’s been a pleasure to make another commission that draws together new processes in materials, components and technology – and a fine example to our students how design can incorporate these different elements to make a truly unique piece.

See our colour changing table in action 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!

2017 Furniture Prize Blog Photo.JPG


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, Finn James, Winner of The Alan Peters Award for Excellence 2017 (Student Award)

Student, Finn James, Winner of The Alan Peters Award for Excellence 2017 (Student Award)

Student, Finn James, Winner of The Alan Peters Award for Excellence 2017 (Student Award)

We are extremely excited to announce that our student, Finn James, is one of the winners of this years Alan Peters Award for Excellence.

Finn's funky low oak coffee table was laminated from 10 layers of 5mm flexi-ply and was veneered in beautiful figured quarter sawn oak. To emphasize the shape the edges were coloured a very light grey. Finn's project was a great introduction to jig making, laminating and veneering.

Finn's award winning piece was constructed in a way to look like one continuous lamination and looked absolutely seamless. A real testament to the craftsmanship that went into the design and making of Finn's first ever piece designed and made here.

Finn's table will be exhibited in Cheltenham from the 19th to the 28th August. To find out more about the Alan Peters Award for Excellence please go to:

Our congratulations also go to Freya Whamond and Christopher Cooper, who were also winners of this award. 

Here is what the Judges said about Finn's table:

Finn James - 'Brompton' coffee table

(Williams and Cleal Furniture School) 

What the judges said:

“This is a visually simple piece, however its clean form has been subtly enhanced by the choice of veneer and top recess to add just enough interest to the piece to ensure that it is not dull.  The execution of this piece is excellent and this is particularly important for a piece where any un-crisp lines would completely break the piece aesthetically.”

 “The judges were particularly impressed this year by three very different pieces.  We felt that each, in their own way, showed good ambition, offered interest both visually and in their construction, indicated a good understanding of the materials used and demonstrated accomplished workmanship” said award judge and director of Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design, Jason Heap.

 Each of the three winners also stand to gain £100 to spend on tools and equipment with Wood Workers Workshop who have generously sponsored the award whilst Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design also offer each winner a 50% discount on their exhibitor fee if they return as a professional designer-maker the following year to reveal their progress since winning the award.

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.

Our Spring 2017 Newsletter is here!

Our Spring 2017 Newsletter is here!

Our Spring 2017 Newsletter is now out! 

This year, is the Williams and Cleal 10th Year as a fine furniture making school - read all about how the school came to be. Watch our Steam Bending demonstration to the students, read about our offsite visits to Artichoke and Vasterns Timber, and see the recent article in Furniture and Cabinetmaking about our students work!

This and lots more in the Spring Newsletter. See more here.

Students Work Featured in Furniture and Cabinet Making Magazine

Students Work Featured in Furniture and Cabinet Making Magazine

We are delighted that the furniture of seven Williams and Cleal students features in the April 2017 edition of Furniture and Cabinetmaking Magazine!

Damian Robinson's Hexagonal Drinks Cabinet also makes the magazine cover feature - well done Damian!

The gallery article "Masters in the Making: Behind the scenes at Williams and Cleal" features the work of Alistair Buchan, Jessica Fairley, Damian Robinson, Tom Moy, Charles Byron, Tom Jarrold and Ruth Bowers. It is great to see their work beautifully showcased in this edition of the magazine.

Student Visit to Artichoke Ltd and Vastern Timber

Student visit to Artichoke Ltd and Vastern Timber

Student visit to Artichoke Ltd and Vastern Timber

This month, our students have been on two trips to augment their learning and understanding of the furniture making industry.

The first trip was to Artichoke Ltd, a high end bespoke furniture company based in Cheddar.  Bruce Hodgson and John Hampton kindly gave their time to tour the students around the workshop of Artichoke and talk to us about the developments in the industry in design and production. It was a very inspiring visit, and very informative for the students in terms of developments in the furniture making industry.

Our second trip was to Vastern's Timber near Wootten Bassett. Tom Barnes kindly spent a few hours touring our students around the timber yards. Tom gave a very informative talk on everything though to how the timber is cut, dried and stored... to advice on good timber selection.

Both visits were incredibly useful to the students and a real highlight to the week.

Dumond's Scholarship Fund for Woodworking Courses and QEST Scholarship Fund 2017.

Dumond's Scholarship Fund for Woodworking Courses and QEST Scholarship Fund 2017.

Paul Dumond of Dumond's Scholarship Fund for the Arts has kindly been in contact with Williams and Cleal Furniture school - because he would like to open up applications to his fund from our students.

Dumond's scholarship fund was originally open only to US students on accredited courses, but Paul has now decided to change the elligibility criteria to enable international applications from students attending courses worldwide. Successful applicants will receieve $1000 towards their course to progress their craft experience.


The QEST (Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust) deadline is approaching for their 2017 Scholarship Grant. Applications must be in by the 19th January 2017. Awards between £1000 and £18,000 are made to successful applicants and the grant can be used to fund courses like our 40 week course here at Williams and Cleal. It is also a very prestigious award. 

Kate, our Student Support Coordinator, keeps abreast of course funding. If you need some pointers on where to start with funding please feel free to contact the office.

Our Students Award Winning work as Featured in Furniture and Cabinetmaking Magazine

Feature article on the work of Williams and Cleal Students for the Somerset Guild of Craftsman Furniture Prize 2016.

(Furniture and Cabinetmaking Magazine).

We are incredibly pleased that the December issue of Furniture and Cabinetmaking includes a full spread feature article on the beautiful furniture, and award winning entries created by our students for The Somerset Guild of Craftsmen Furniture Prize 2016!

Damien Robinson's Writing Desk and Chair and Ali Buchan's Torii Gate Console Table shared joint second prize in the awards.

Ali's table design is based on the famous Torii Gate at the Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima, Japan. 

Damien's Writing table was made for his father-in-law. The piece is made out of solid American black walnut, selected for its beautiful crown and mostly straight grain patterning.

Our student Tim Hagon's Pippy Oak table also gained recognition in the prize and was 'highly commended' by the judges, and fellow student, Andrew Wood also exhibited his Drinks Chest in brown oak.

Our congratulations to all the students that entered their work and well done to all!