Courses at the Barn

Rather than producing a schedule of workshops every summer as I have done in the past, I am now instead encouraging and welcoming requests or proposals from prospective students before I set forth on planning and scheduling one.  This saves me the trouble of readying myself for events several months in advance when the pattern of the past few years reveals that folks just o not want to come to The Barn to attend workshops.  That’s fine, it is just a data point Reality has revealed to me.

If one of my topics interests you, especially if you can gather a couple of friends to come along, let me know and we will work out a schedule and syllabus that is amenable to us.  Even if you want to jut come and spend some one-on-one time in the shop with me, we can make that happen.

Subjects for Potential Barn Workshops


Historic Finishing Techniques (3 days)

Surface preparation and the selection and application of traditional transparent finishes, including shellac, natural resin spirit varnishes, and wax.

Historic Varnish Formulation (2 days)

Formulating oil varnishes and paints based on old timey recipes. Make Vernis Martin!

Introduction to Japanning (3 days)

Imitating oriental lacquer with gesso, pigmented spirit varnishes and gold leaf decoration.

Advanced Japanning (3-5 days)

Continuation of Japanning techniques with more complex designs or projects. One option would be to paint a Gragg chair built in that course.


Making a Lidded Box (5 days)

This introduction to traditional hand tool woodworking is intended for someone who has little previous experience. Sawing, planing, and joining are on the agenda.

Making a Gragg “Elastic” Chair (6-9 days)

Students will derive and fashion chair elements from felled oak logs, steam bend the parts, and fit the joinery necessary to assemble an unpainted Gragg “elastic” chair.

Gilding (3 days)

Introduces the process of gilding, from preparing the ground through the application of the genuine gold leaf on the surface.

Traditional Hammer Veneering (3 days)

Selecting and hand/machine sawing veneers from lumber, preparing veneers and adhesives, and using a veneer hammer to make it happen.


The techniques taught and practiced in the classes are mostly sawing exercises (including deriving the veneers themselves) based on my own experience and historical antetypes.

Federal Paterae (2 days)

This popular exercise involves creating an oval edge-banded shell inlay or a similar project.

Parquetry and Banding (3 days)

Saw veneers and make a marquetry and banded panel inspired by Roubo’s Plates 286 and 287.

A Floral Still Life (3 days)

Replicating a panel based on Roubo’s Plate 301.

Channeling Roentgen (4 days)

The studios of Abraham and David Roentgen may have produced the greatest pictorial marquetry ever. Find out why, and how.

Introduction to Boullework (3 days)

Execute pictorial or filigree marquetry with sheets of metal and “tordonshell,” a convincing replica I invented for just this purpose.

A Boullework Coopered Box (5 days)

This more ambitious project will include both of the techniques that made Boulle famous; brass and “tordonshell” filigree patterning, and complex floral composition.


Sand Mold Metal Casting (5 days)

With wooden patterns, sand, a flask, and a smelting furnace for melting aluminum, (or conversely a hot plate and some pewter) casting is a boatload of fun. We’ll even see what can be accomplished with a hair dryer, a pile of fire bricks, and a bag of charcoal.

Lost Wax Metal Casting (5 days)

The most intricate and precise method for producing metal castings is the Cire perdue or “lost wax” method. Usually employed for exotic furniture hardware, we can concentrate on any decorative shapes.

Non-metal Casting (3 days)

By creating rubber molds for making casting from a variety of materials – plaster, epoxies, compo, phase-change EVA – you will gain the fundamental knowledge to replicate parts.


Making Roubo’s Tools (2-5 days)

Contained within L’Art du Menuisier are dozens, no, hundreds of tools. Workshops will focus on fabricating some of these tools.

Making a Petit Dovetail Saw (2 days)

Starting with the raw materials of brass stock, spring steel, and wood, you will make a dovetail saw that will become a treasured part of your kit.


Other workshops with guest instructors include Work Bench Making,
Carving, Contemporary Finishing,Upholstery,Using and Making Hand Tools,
Shaker/Welsh Stools, Carved Walking Sticks,and many more!