INTERNATIONALLY RENOWN FURNITURE DESIGNER DAVID SAVAGE is to take a short series of one week masterclasses this summer. Classes will be small with only three students and set at a standard to suit either BASIC, INTERMEDIATE or ADVANCED to suit all potential furniture makers.


Rowden is set in the heart of beautiful North Devon countryside. Whilst you have your woodworking your family can enjoy a break in beautiful countryside.

Only three students will be taken on each course so personal attention would be expected, and will be given. Students would have the benefit of joining, if only for a week, the extraordinary place that is Rowden Workshops. Here we combine making world class furniture with a teaching workshop for up to a dozen full time students. The atmosphere here is one of hard work and dedication to creating pieces designed to be worthy of outstanding workmanship. As a matter of routine our students achieve in twelve hard months a quality of work not accomplished on three year degree programmes .

Our objective is to inspire and encourage young and not so young designer makers to set up businesses and succeed as furniture designer makers. Masterclass students will for a short time become part of the workshop. You will see the work of Daren Millman, David’s expert maker, probably at work on a client’s piece, you will see students work at various stages of development, you will be invited to join in “Dimblebie lectures” (short 15 to 20 minute tea break lectures on anything from sharpening a scraper to setting up an exhibition stand), you will be invited to go to the Art class run by David where frequently we have nude life drawing as the principal subject and also you may be asked to help make the tea.

david teaching polishing

ONE WEEK BASICS COURSE . Your Introduction to handtools.

Some of you will come with a kit of tools, some will not. I will show you the choices you can make in the market today in choosing chisels and bench planes and hopefully we will have most brands in the workshop for you to try out. I don’t have a recommended list as everyone is different and tools are very personal. We can lend you tools while you are here but we want to teach you to prepare and sharpen your own tools so we will be encouraging you to go buy some tools if you need them. The rule is try them out here then if you need them and can afford them get them whilst on the course so I can check that they are right and supervise your sharpening methods.

People make a big fuss about sharpening, it is an important doorway towards allowing you control of the cutting edge. Less push and shove, more control. So we will show you professional methods without honing guides but will also show you techniques more suitable for the amateur using honing guides. By the end of the week many if not all your hand tools should be sharp and you should have a good idea of how to use them

Using a bench plane and chisels. These are quite correctly called hand tools so how your hand and body relate to them is critical to their use. You will learn to hold them properly, how to stand properly at the bench and work with your whole body not just your fore arms. Bench planes are used to get timber flat. I will teach you how to create a dead flat surface, plane an adjacent flat surface at right angles and create a dimensioned component with this simple tool.

You will learn to be responsive to the material, to this particular bit of wood, you will learn to cut it the way it wants to be cut and why that is important. You will gain control of the process of removing fine shavings a tenth of a millimetre of wood at a time. In this way, you will have in your hands access to creating quality through this very process.

In this week you will make a cross halving joint in Oak to exact dimensions, entirely by hand, your aim will be perfect fit, one piece exactly inside another, with clean oil polished surfaces and chamfered shiny corners. Depending upon the amount of work needed on your tools you would also have sharpened some if not all your tools and set a plane up to work correctly learning why planes may not have worked for you in the past. Hand tools like these are the way into quality work and this is the first step towards that goal. From here with this knowledge you will be able to practice alone to take these skills to the next stage.


The fee for the week is 750 inclusive of all materials abrasives and polishes. A deposit of 250 is payable in advance and is only returnable should you cancel the course twelve weeks prior to the course starting date.
Courses are planned for March (NOW FULL) April (NOW FULL) May (NOW FULL) June and September. Contact Margaret Hassett, assistant to David Savage on 01409 281579 for details of up to date availability or contact me

matts box in Walnut and ebony

ONE WEEK INTERMEDIATE COURSE. Learning to use a European Dovetail Saw and small planes.

This is a week for students who have already mastered sharpening and the basic skills with planes and chisels. In this week you will make from pre-prepared materials a small dovetailed jewellery box. You will learn to use marking guages and cutting guages to mark out joints. Once marked out you will learn to use and to set up and sharpen a small European dovetail saw. This is the most commonly used bench saw in Fine Furniture making.

Sawing straight requires understanding and skill that is almost impossible to acquire without training. David will show you how to master that damn saw! Once cut out you will learn how to pare back with small sharp bench chisels and fit pins to tails.

Using Block Planes, Shoulder planes, and Side Rebate Planes. The box lid will be made with a “raise and fielding” to fit the box sides and a cedar bottom fitted with a simple rebate. All will be worked with hand tools including shoulder planes and side rebate planes. This will lead to polishing with shellac polish and finishing with wire wool and wax to a fine lustre before assembly. The lid of the box and box bottom will be then fitted and the job assembled.

Assembly and Polishing Once assembled you will hand plane all the outside surfaces then sand and polish and separate the lid from the body of the box. The box lid will be fitted with brass butts and will close onto mitred dry liners inside the box. The aim is for a “Rolls Royce door ” sound to the closing box lid , Woomph! not Whack !!!! . If you have time you can go on and fit feet to the box and a small handle to the lid. If you are really good you may get to fit a small tray inside the box .

It would help us if you could bring a sharpened fully functioning bench plane and small sharp chisels 2mm to 10mm. Please note this course is not about tool sharpening and we expect what tools you have to be in good shape. If you do not have these tools don’t worry. We can provide sharpened tools for you.

Course Fees. The fee for the week is 750 inclusive of all materials abrasives and polishes. A deposit of 250 is payable in advance and is only returnable should you cancel the course twelve weeks prior to the course starting date.

Course availability Courses are planned for May (One place available) and July. Contact Margaret Hassett on 01409 281579 for details of up to date availability or contact me

Harrys chair in ash


This workshop has a world wide reputation for the quality of it’s chair design and making. This is an opportunity to make, under the supervision of David Savage, a David Savage original design called Harry’s Chair. Making this chair will teach you the basics of chair design and small workshop batch production.

Rods and Templates. You will see how rods and templates are drawn up from design drawings, how maquettes or scale models are used to develop a design idea and how those ideas are turned into a prototype chair.

Component Preparation. From pre-machined components you will joint up chair legs and rails using a strong modern joint suitable to a small workshop.

Spindle moulder. You will use the spindle moulder to prepare curved rear legs to template using male and female formers against a ring fence.

Curved Backs. You will use a vacuum bag press to create a curved back component on a pre-existing female mould.

Assembly and hand work. Assembly and hand fitting of the crest rail are the final stages of a busy week

This one week advanced course is only available to students who have attended the intermediate course

Course Fees. The fee for the week is 750 inclusive of all materials abrasives and polishes. A deposit of 250 is payable in advance and is only returnable should you cancel the course twelve weeks prior to the course starting date.
Course availability We have only two places left on our August course . Contact David Savage’s assistant Margaret Hassett on 01409 281579 for details of up to date availability or contact me

Rowden in the snow


Rowden Workshops are an incredible place. In making we manage to make world class furniture for our clients. In teaching, which is equally important to us, our students manage to achieve in a very short 50 weeks what cannot seem to be achieved on three year college courses. Hopefully our students are going on to become the leaders of a generation of designer makers.

The people who come here are totally committed to changing their lives, to setting up new businesses and to designing and making modern furniture at a very high level. About a dozen of them are working from early morning to late evening sharing an enthusiasm, a passion for their work. This inspires Daren and myself to give the best we can to help them achieve their goals. Which makes this place special, we have the energy of the students who frankly are paying a lot to be here, so quite rightly want the best.

bench room one

We also have the design and making that Daren and myself are doing for my clients. Hopefully this will also encourage and inspire as well as warning of the pitfalls of, for example, ordering the glass too late in the process. You will be able to join this workshop if only for a week. You can if you wish listen in to the Dimblebie Lectures, these are short 15 minute tea break lectures on subjects ranging from sharpening a cabinet scraper to designing a profit and loss management account. You may even be invited to take your turn in making the tea and coffee.

Quality of workmanship and design and a great supportive atmosphere are what we have and will always want. I hope that you will be able to join us and I look forward to meeting you and working with you this summer.

David Savage

TEL 01409 281579



David established Rowden Atelier in 1995, a now world renowned fine woodworking school. Discover Rowden, the woodworking courses, and the work that students go on to do.

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