The summer of 2014 will be remembered amongst certain woodworkers as the year that brought the classic English tool chest home. A design that has been transported around the globe for centuries, it has become the symbolic emblem of a true craftsman. Light weight and built to withstand the rigors of a typical journeyman, the hand tools inside have quite literally shaped our world.
Now days a new army of wood-be artisans are championing a hand tool renaissance as more of us realize the true value of hand made goods over mass produced hybrids. It’s a quiet revolution of sorts, aimed squarely at rekindling our relationship with the things we need and use everyday. The Anarchist’s Tool Chest (after the book by Christopher Schwarz) is now the mark of the modern artisan and New English Workshop held the first course in the UK this year to show 36 students how to build their own chests and make their mark in their chosen craft discipline.
An event was hosted by Warwickshire College in Leamington back in July and saw a total of five students gain a free place on the course. Additional funds are being raised for the college by auctioning off the tool chest built by Christopher Schwarz and contents donated by vendors and artisan tool makers from around the world.
Plans are already under way to make this an annual event held at two sites in 2015 with a line-up of some of the most influential woodworking professionals that have ever been to the UK. There are courses to suit the genuine first timer on limited funds up to advanced practitioners looking to hone their skills. To be part of the hand made revolution visit www.newenglishworkshop.co.uk to book a place on one of next years courses.
Meet the Tutors
If time travel were possible, we wouldn’t see Peter Follansbee: he’d be gone and working in a 17th-century workshop. But Peter’s stuck in the 21st century with the rest of us, so he’s a joiner, turner and carver of furniture in the 17th-century English (and New England) style. A typical woodworker of that period spent seven years apprenticed to a master craftsman to learn his trade. Peter has taught himself the techniques by trial-and-error in his shop, and by very long hours in the library, ferreting out and piecing together evidence with the exactitude of a trial lawyer. Even among woodworkers, Peter’s calling is rather rare. As he says, “I trained myself into a corner and then I got a job in it.” Peter is the author of many articles and several books on the craft and brings to each course he teaches encyclopaedic knowledge.
Passionate hand tool woodworker, publisher, author of ‘The Anarchist’s Tool Chest’ and many other fine titles on the subject of woodworking, Christopher Schwarz has a reputation for telling it like it is. Chris is one of the Owners of Lost Art Press, a writer of and maker of real distinction and is a mine of information on the craft of furniture making and, in particular, the use of hand tools. We are proud that Chris is returning to work with us in 2015 and one of the courses he is teaching is fundamental to what we are about: developing the craft of making fine furniture for all including those who are on a very limited budget.
A regular contributor to Furniture & Cabinetmaking magazine, David Barron spent time at the renowned Barnsley Workshop in Hampshire. Well known for his hand crafted furniture David also makes a range of stunning hand tools for sale at shows throughout the UK and via his website. His magnetic dovetail guides have found favour with discerning woodworkers around the world.
There is simply no bigger name in Woodworking: Roy Underhill is probably the best known woodworker of the past 40years. He was the first Master Housewright at the Colonial Williamsburg Historical Centre and was awarded a Master of Forestry in 1977. He is also famously the writer and presenter of ‘The Woodwright’s Shop’ which remains the longest running television show in the United States. In addition Roy is the author of several books and countless articles. Recently he has started teaching traditional woodworking in a classroom environment he calls “The Woodwright’s School” located in Pittsboro’, North Carolina.
Jeff Miller is a furniture designer, craftsman, teacher, and author of numerous woodworking books and articles (he’s also a former classical musician, and a dad). Jeff’s furniture has been shown in galleries and shows across the USA, and has won numerous awards. His furniture is in the Decorative Arts Collection of the Chicago History Museum and his books have won several awards. Jeff’s current book; ‘The Foundations of Better Woodworking‘ offers a clear-sighted view of the pitfalls in technique which need to be overcome by all woodworkers if they are to produce the best quality furniture possible.
Tom Fidgen has written for Fine Woodworking Magazine, Popular Woodworking Magazine, Canadian Woodworking Magazine, British Woodworking Magazine as well as the Lee Valley Tools Newsletter. His first book, Made by Hand – Furniture Projects from the Unplugged Woodshop was the top selling woodworking book of 2010. His much anticipated follow-up, The Unplugged Woodshop – Hand Crafted Projects for the Home and Workshop was released in September 2013, and has been receiving critical acclaim and promises to be as successful as his first.
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