Training: Going against the grain

Going against the grain… Rowden has always prided itself on having refined the training of its cabinetmakers to the point where every step, every project, every Dimbleby is designed to maximise the knowledge and skill base of the student. It is hard to fault, and major deviation from the methods taught by the three main teachers is largely frowned upon. More often than not deviations lead to mistakes or time lost.

But not always…

A Rowden Mantra

One of the mantras at Rowden is that each student should plan a project as much as possible so that all the making processes are understood. This also ensures that all challenges are anticipated and problems resolved long before a single piece of wood is cut. After all, mistakes are much easier to rectify on paper or on screen.

A close up from Javier’s box

But one student wasn’t having it. He really didn’t like having to plan everything in advance. In the end, Javier decided he was going to pretty much wing it. He knew he wanted to create a box. He knew that it would incorporate a lot of traditional cabinet making techniques. And he knew, roughly, how big it would be and what wood he had. From there he decided to just let the box develop with each stage and let the moment and the materials decide the final outcome.

The result is a beautiful, quirky, and very personal creation that has all the fine furniture skills that he had learned, but it is full of wonderful touches that may not have made it had the design needed to be fully resolved beforehand. Bravo Javier!

Javier has left Rowden now. Javier is off to build traditional whaling boats.

Until next time,



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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