Woodworking is a dying art these days, especially when you compare the number of skilled wood artisans in pre-industrial society to today’s heavy post-industrial World. But the skill is experiencing a revival of sorts, and community colleges and other schools throughout the World offer woodworking classes and degrees that can give you an edge in the craft.
The 9 top woodworking schools in the World include the Lonnie Bird’s School of Fine Woodworking and the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. Many community colleges have added woodworking classes and degrees to their academic offerings. You can look online for free courses or videos to learn more.
(Update: I’ve recently had a great conversation with the folks at Williams and Cleal Woodworking School in England and have decided that once the world is back to normal, I’ll have to come up with an excuse to travel there and take a weekend class. Click here to check out their website. This is not an affiliate link.)
If you are looking to learn new woodworking skills or improve on the skills you already have, keep reading to find out where the best school is for you.
If you have your own school or Woodworking classes and would like to be added to this list send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
What Are Your Special Skills?
Before searching for the right woodworking school, take some time to evaluate your skills and interests. Do you like making furniture more than creating fine details within the wood, or are you more detail-oriented in your work? Or are you more into new building construction? Knowing your interests and your natural talents and skills will help you know what type of program to register for.
Don’t worry if you don’t have any woodworking skills when you first start taking classes–you can start in the beginner classes that will take you from complete novice to expert. But if you already have some woodworking skills, you might start in the advanced courses. The school will be able to help you figure out these details.
Start With Youtube Videos and Online Courses
If you’re starting with no experience or skills in woodworking, and before you spend money on schools, you might try finding free online woodworking classes or videos that give you basic woodworking skills. Youtube has videos on everything, including woodworking skills. Steve Ramsey gives a beginning woodworking guide for those who have no idea where to start.
Udemy has several courses in woodworking that are low cost that you can take at your pace. An online learning platform, Udemy hosts courses taught by experts in the field, so you are sure to find courses that give you practical knowledge that you can use immediately.
Sam Beauford Woodworking Institute
Located in Adrian, Michigan, this is a woodworking school with a lot to offer when it comes to woodworking education. They have a full-time program in furniture making and wood design for students who want to make woodworking a career.
They have week-intensive courses taught by guest instructors from all over North America such as Patrick Moore, Mary May, Dave Hellar, and Luke Barnett, and more. Intensive courses include chair-making classes, Stereotomy, Timberframing, Veener and Marquetry, Woodcarving, and more.
They also offer weekend courses for those with a busy work schedule. Check out their website here.
Lonnie Bird’s School of Fine Woodworking
While this school is perhaps not a traditional school by any means, it was developed and taught by master woodworker Lonnie Bird. He has 40+ years of professional experience in furniture making and instruction. He also wrote six woodworking books. Lonnie’s instructional partner, Jason Bennett, also has extensive experience in creating furniture and instruction.
His school is different than most in that they give plenty of personalized attention, and they pre-plane the wood before classes start to avoid extra work for the students.
Marc Adams School of Woodworking
As with the Lonnie Bird school, the Marc Adams School of Woodworking employs master woodworkers skilled in many woodworking disciplines, including wood sculptures, ornate furniture pieces, “paintings” carved exclusively from wood, and musical instruments. Students have gone on to create various items, including serving bowls for the kitchen or music boxes.
They hold workshops on woodworking aspects, including the basic woodworking fundamentals, cabinet making, finishing work, and apprenticeship programs. The workshops are held monthly from April through October of each year. You can register by phone, online, or in-person.
The Chippendale International School of Furniture in Scotland
If you’re looking for an international educational experience, the Chippendale Internation School of Furniture located in Scotland will give you the skills to build classic furniture and cabinetry.
They offer an introductory course for those who want to learn woodworking for recreational purposes, an intermediate course for those who want to take their skills to an advanced level, and a professional course for those who want to turn woodworking into a solid career.
They also offer several short courses for recreational learning.
University of Tasmania Design Program
For an accredited degree in design, the University of Tasmania design program will teach you how to design and create wood sculptures, furniture, and other structures. You will get heavy hands-on experience in studio work, as well as computer-aided design. Within the design school, you have several options to choose from where you want to take your career.
You can also choose a diploma, associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree, depending on your career goals and budget.
Rosewood Studio in Canada
Master artisans and professional designers/furniture makers have banded together to form the Rosewood Studio in Canada. They offer flexible learning options for their students, including workshops and full courses. The teacher to student ratio is balanced for optimum student learning.
Except for their Craftsman Program, which lasts twelve weeks, most courses last five to ten days. You can find accommodation at one of the local hotels listed on their website during the course duration.
Santa Fe Community College
If you’re looking for an associate degree or certificate in fine woodworking on which to build a career, Santa Fe Community College might be for you. You will learn about design concepts, machinery skills, and construction techniques. With small class sizes, you will receive more instruction and hands-on learning.
Students can either seek employment at the end of their program or transfer to a four-year study program.
Long Beach City College
Long Beach, California, is the home of Long Beach City College, which has a comprehensive trades and industrial technology program. Programs include engineering, architectural design, and construction technology. While this school doesn’t seem to have a woodworking course, per se, you have several career options in the crafts.
Red Rocks Community College in Colorado
Creating stringed instruments is a dying art, but the Red Rocks Community College in Colorado hopes to revive it. Their Fine Woodworking program is the second-largest woodworking program in the nation. It will provide students with the skills and business resources they need to have a successful woodworking career.
They offer 12 certificate programs and an Associate of Applied Science in woodworking, with an emphasis on three main expertise areas:
- Traditional fine woodworking
- Advanced Wood Technologies
- Lutherie, or stringed instrument making
Because woodworking is a dying art, the courses are taught by only the masters of the craft and those currently working in the field, which gives you a practical view of the current job market.
Palomar College in California
After remodeling their woodworking classrooms in 2013, the Cabinet and Furniture Technology school at Palomar College increased their woodworking programs and technological capabilities. They offer associate degrees and certificate programs in the following disciplines:
- Table and Chair Manufacturing
- Guitar Making Technology
- Cabinet Making and Millwork
- Carving Technology
- Lathe Turning Technology
- …and much more too numerous to mention.
Palomar College has the most comprehensive woodworking programs in the nation. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, new students’ registration has been put on hold until the Spring 2021 semester.
Depending on where you want to take your woodworking career, you can either choose informal classes and courses online or workshops or choose a fully accredited college education that propels you into a career you love and will hold for life.
You might already have several woodworking skills, or you are a complete beginner. If you register for a formal educational program as a complete novice, you may need to do some catch up learning to advance with the rest of the class. Youtube videos and online courses can help you get up to speed on your skills quickly before attending classes.
- Udemy: Woodworking Courses
- Quora: What are the Best Woodworking Schools in the World?
- Marc Adams Woodworking School: About
- Chippendale School of Woodworking: International Woodworking School
- Lonnie Bird: Woodworking School
- Fine Woodworking: Top Woodworking Schools
- Popular Woodworking: Woodworking Schools U.S.
- The DIY Joint: Why You Should Take a Woodworking Class
- Youtube: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Woodworking
- University of Tasmania: Design Program
- Rosewood Studio: Instruction in Fine Woodworking
- Santa Fe Community College: Fine Woodworking Program
- Long Beach City College: Trades and Industrial Technology
- Red Rocks Community College: Fine Woodworking
- Palomar College: Cabinet and Furniture Technology