Fall and Winter Tutorials

The Hearth Chair. Shoji (below) by Carl Swensson.

Registration is now open for fall/winter tutorials, spring weekends and summer workshops.

Wooden Boat Basics will be taught by Vermont boat builder Douglas Brooks. Hans Karlsson will be coming from Sweden to teach Toolmaking for Woodworkers. Carl Swensson will be teaching 2 classes: Japanese Woodworking – Making a Shoji and Coopering.

Drew Langsner will teach Ladderback Chairmaking – offered every year since 1979. There will be no CW classes in July.


Drew and Louise are planning their first ever summer vacation, in Sweden. Our friends Elmore and Martha will be here to take messages. They will also forward our CW e-mail.



Fall/Winter Tutorials
These 5-day courses are limited to 4 students. Tuition includes materials, meals and your private room. Specialized tools are provided for all of these classes. Drew Langsner is the instructor.


Fall 2011
November 14 - 18: Rustic Windsor Chairmaking
December 5 - 9: Carving Bowls and Spoons


Winter 2012
January 16 - 20: Ladderback Chairmaking
January 30 - February 3: Rustic Windsor Chairmaking
February 13 - 17: Carving Bowls and Spoons
February 27 - March 2: Making the Hearth Chair
March 26 - 30: Making a Corner Cabinet
April 9 - 13: Rustic Windsor Chairmaking


Toolmaking students watch a Hans Karlsson demonstration.

Spring Weekends
Similar to our tutorials, but just 2 days. Tuition includes materials, meals and your private room. Specialized tools are provided.
April 28 - 29: Spoon Carving (Drew Langsner)
May 5 - 6: Bowl Carving (Drew Langsner)
June 2 - 3: Willow Basketry (Louise Langsner)

Summer Workshops with Guest Instructors
Class size averages 8 participants. Tuition includes materials, use of specialized tools for most classes, meals and accommodations in our Summer Farmhouse. Several private rooms are also available.
June 11 - 16: Ladderback Chairmaking (Drew Langsner)
June 25 - 30: Japanese Woodworking – Making A Shoji (Carl Swensson)
August 13 - 18: Coopering (Carl Swensson)
August 27 - 31: Toolmaking for Woodworkers (Hans Karlsson)
September 10 - 15: Wooden Boat Basics (Douglas Brooks)


Registration can be by postal mail, phone (828-656-2280) or e-mail. The tutorial deposit is $350, with the balance due 4 weeks before each course begins. The cancellation policy is on our web site. The web site also has a printable registration form.


Douglas Brooks

Wooden Boat Basics - September 10-15

DOUGLAS BROOKS is a boat builder, writer and researcher based in Vergennes, VT. Douglas specializes in small boats built to traditional designs with traditional materials. He has also studied traditional Japanese boat building since 1996 and has apprenticed with five different boat builders in Japan. He has written for “WoodenBoat” magazine, “Maritime Life and Traditions” and “Classic Boat” among other publications. Douglas is currently finishing his third book on Japanese boatbuilding. His work can be seen at

In this workshop a classic flatiron rowing skiff, from a design over one hundred years old, will form the basis of an introduction to traditional plank-on-frame boat building. The course will touch upon all the steps necessary to build a small boat: lofting, mould making, spiling, planking, steam bending, and caulking. This design uses lapstrake (copper riveted) construction for the side planks and carvel (butted and caulked) construction for the bottom boards. The boat utilizes a laminated bow stem, and it features a skeg at the transom stern for directional stability. Overall length is 10 feet 6 inches. In addition to working on the skiff, students will learn to make a half model of the project and a set of traditional leathered oars.



For our sturdy stump legs we’ve used old, dry black locust fence posts and also red oak rivings left over from chairmaking class.

Drew Langsner and summer intern Zach Whittridge

Anyone who works smallish pieces of wood with an axe – from splitting firewood to carving spoons and bowls – knows that having a hardwood stump on hand is just about a necessity. But like many things that seem simple, there are details to know about stumps that can make life easier.

Height is definitely important. You’ll want a low stump (maybe 14-18 inches) if you’re splitting firewood with a heavy maul or wedges. For hewing the exterior of a bowl, the stump should be a little higher (around 24 inches.) For carving small things like spoons with a very light hatchet the stump should be high enough (32 inches) so that you don’t need to assume a leaning over posture. Because you can end up with several stumps, storage and moving them around becomes a consideration. We are dealing with bulk, weight and stability.

We’ve seen pictures of stumps with legs for years. Sabot makers use a tethered block knife for shaping the outside of their wooden shoes. The (usually) straight blade has a long handle at one end and a hook linked to staple driven into a stump that has 3 legs. The effect is great leverage and control. Four-sided butcher blocks (really, assembled end-grain stumps) also have legs.

At Country Workshops storing and moving our collection of stumps for various classes created a challenge that wasn’t addressed for many years. The bigger oak stumps often required 2 people to move them from storage to the shop and back into storage. And sometimes these stumps weren’t particularly stable. Legs solved both problems.

For our sturdy stump legs we’ve used old, dry black locust fence posts and also red oak rivings left over from chairmaking class. The oak was split and dried for most of a summer. Zach cleaned up the rived sides with a drawknife, then turned 1-1/2 inch diameter by 2-1/2 inch long tenons at one end. Make the legs several inches longer than you think will be needed. They will be trimmed to length when the stump is leveled.

Our stumps, which are red oak, were several years old and therefore dry. They wouldn’t shrink much; hopefully any serious cracks were already visible. One older, tall stump was chain-sawed in half to make 2 of the taller stumps with legs.

On the bottom of the stump, locate 3 boring centers approximately 120 degrees apart. Take a guess at finding the center of the stump. Draw a sighting line from each boring center to the stump center. Set a bevel gage at 15 degrees from 90. Position yourself along the sighting line. If possible, get someone to help sight the 15-degree leaning angle. This technique is covered in more detail in our rustic Windsor chairmaking classes and in my book “The Chairmaker’s Workshop.” Drill the mortises 2-1/2 inches deep, measured at the low side of the angled drill bit. We used a hefty hand held drill and a 1-1/2 inch multi-spur forstner bit fitted with a 6-inch extension.

The leg tenons should be knocked into snug mortises. If they wobble, tighten the joints by driving several small wooden wedges around any spaces between the mortise and tenon. If the joints are really tight and the stump isn’t well dried there is a chance that the stump will split during subsequent drying.

Turn the assembled stump on to its legs. Use a level and wooden wedges at the floor to level the stump surface. The maximum trim height is the height to the surface less the height of the thickest wedge. Use a compass to scribe a level line around the bottom of each leg. For a lower stump subtract the desired height from the wedged up height. Use this number for the scribing height. If you don’t have a compass you can hold or tape a pencil to a block of wood at the height of the desired scribing lines.

Tip the stump on its side to hand saw around the scribing lines. Then use a sharp chisel (or a block plane or a knife or a rasp) to put a generous chamfer around the scribed saw cuts.

Finally, your stump needs a lid so that the chopping surface will be kept free of grit when it’s not actually in use. This is important because your sharp carving axe can be dulled from chopping into the stump surface at the end of some cuts. Embedded grit could be airborne, or more likely, carried on the bottom of someone’s shoe when the stump is used as something to stand on. (Like for reaching an overhead shelf.) Make the lid from a piece of scrap plywood with 1 x 2 edging.


The Country Workshops summer internship provides an opportunity to attend classes in return for help between workshops.

Duties include: preparation for classes, general shop and grounds maintenance, light construction, farm and garden work. The program runs from early June through the second week of September.

We generally have one intern each summer. We can also accept couples. For 2012 the arrangement will be somewhat different than usual. Drew and Louise are planning a summer vacation in July. During this time our intern will be a “house/shop/office sitter” with full access to the workshop and gardens. This should be an excellent opportunity to focus on personal projects.
Contact us for details.

Butter knife from Tasmania.


When Australian Ian Stagg attended last summer’s coopering course he brought us a small (6-1/4 inch) and very nicely detailed butter knife from Tasmania. Carved from Huon Pine – Lagarostrobos franklini. This wood is very fine grained, decay resistant and quite hard. It is one of the slowest growing and longest living plants in the world, with individual specimens known to be over 2,000 years in age.

Ian bought the spreader at a craft shop; he doesn’t know who made it. There is a small maker’s stamp embedded in the handle. Do any of our Aussie friends know who this might be?

Our design/study collection of butter knives now has 39 examples. You can see the full collection at Country Workshops’ Spreader World Gallery. We are always happy to receive further contributions.


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Phone: 828 656 2280 (9 AM to 6 PM, Eastern time, any day)
Address: 990 Black Pine Ridge Rd.; Marshall, North Carolina 28753