Country Workshops attracts students from all over the US, and sometimes from abroad. One unusual group came for the December 8-12 Ladderback Chair tutorial. Nigel and Christa Atkinson flew in from Middlemount, Australia. (Nigel for the chairmaking; Christa for cooking lessons with Louise.) The other students were Jan Harm Ter Brugge from Amsterdam, Holland and Dolph Bosse from Locust Grove, Georgia (USA).  When planning their long flight the Atkinsons found that they could get a multi-stop around the world ticket for about the same price as a round trip. Altogether, they were away from home for 3 months. We sent Nigel’s chair to Australia by regular mail. (The ladderback will fit in a box that is maximum size for Parcel Post.) Jan’s chair was checked in as baggage at the airport.  Here is a recent e-mail from Nigel, with photos by Jan
Australian Nigel Atkinson meets North American Red Oak. (photo by Jan Harm)
Harm and Drew.

Drew and Louise,

“I arrived home yesterday and the temperature was 38 degrees Celsius, a lot different to what I experienced in the US. There has been big changes here with a cutback of 20% in the people employed in the coal industry. [Nigel is a mine surveyor.] Fortunately I still have a job.

Click here for full story and more photos.


The most common (and very understandable) question that we get from new bowl carvers is ‘What would you recommend as a starter tool set, for someone on a budget?’ Our Swedish supplier, Hans Karlsson, currently produces over 400 different woodworking tools. The Country Workshops Store selection of gouges, drawknives, inshaves, knives and adzes have been selected as the most appropriate for the courses we offer. Currently we sell 33 Karlsson tools. This is our suggestion for getting started with bowl carving:

Click here for tool descriptions, with sale pricing.

Spring/Summer/Fall Class Schedule
We are currently accepting registrations for summer workshops and fall tutorials. Summer workshops bring in notable guest instructors and average 8 students. Fall tutorials are taught by Drew and are limited to 4 students. As always, there are no add-on charges. Tuition includes materials, accommodations and meals. Specialty tools are provided for all classes (exception – Japanese woodworking, where tool preparation is a major part of the course.)

You can read more about each course by following these links:
April 18-19: Willow Basketry (with Louis Langsner)
June 8-12: Toolmaking for Woodworkers (Hans Karlsson) – Full
June 22-27: Ladderback Chairmaking (Drew Langsner)
July 6-10: Carving Bowls and Spoons (Drew Langsner)
July 20-25: Japanese Woodworking (Carl Swensson)
August 3-8: Post-and-Rung Rocking Chair (Tom Donahey)
August 17-21: 17th Century Joinery (Peter Follansbee) - 2 Openings
October 19-23: Rustic Windsor Chairmaking  (Drew Langsner)  – 3 Openings
November 2-6: Windsor Chairmaking (Drew Langsner) – 4 Openings
November 16-20: Ladderback Chairmaking (Drew Langsner) – 3 Openings


“Living Woods” is a new woodworking magazine  from England. We want to spread the word because this publication is focusing on traditional woodworking with hand tools and  green woodworking (including the ecological implications, something that our US woodworking magazines generally don’t cover.) The editor, Nick Gibbs, once ran the British magazine “Good Woodworking” that included regular contributions by Welsh chairmaker John Brown. Drew has just submitted an extensive piece on carving a ladle.

You can now subscribe to “Living Woods” from the US. 6 issues by air mail  is L32.50; or by surface for L22.50. At the current exchange rate this comes to $46.15 or $36.21. Visa and MasterCard is accepted.

To subscribe by e-mail use:
(Use pounds sterling in your e-mail; your bill will be in US dollars.)
Or phone Nick by dialing 011 44 1285 850 481


During the past 10 years or so we’ve been selling low angle, double tanged blades for making wooden body spokeshaves and travishers. Last year our supply dried out (apparently permanently). We still have a few flat and barely curved blades in stock at a clearance sale price. Click here to see what is currently available.

Another approach for making your own travisher is to modify a common iron body spokeshave. You can use a Record or Stanley 151 (the type with the double blade adjusting screws) or a model 51 as shown in the photo. Use this style spokeshave because the handles curve upwards above the sole and cutter.

The first step is re-shaping the cast iron sole to whatever curvature you like. 3/16” rise is about right. Start with a regular high  speed grinder. and then finish with a file.

Re-grind the blade bevel to match the new sole curvature. Be very careful to not over-heat the blade during grinding. Using a white high speed wheel helps, or a slow wheel that runs through a water bath.  Sharpen like you would any other curved blade, working your abrasives along the curvature, rather than perpendicular to the edge.

Modify the chip breaker  to the appropriate curvature.

Shorten the handles, so that they terminate above the sole.  Use a hack saw to remove the downward sloped handle section. Then dress the cut-offs so that the handles are comfortable. For this last step use a grinder and file.


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To contact us by:
E-mail: click here
Web site: click here
Phone: 828 656 2280 (9 AM to 6 PM, eastern time, any day)
Address: 990 Black Pine Ridge Rd.; Marshall, North Carolina 28753