Kenilworth Mayoral Bench – Kenilworth Castle

Yr2 Furniture Crafts student Matt Brown made a Mayoral bench for Kenilworth Castle.
Mayoral Bench – News Article

Matt produced a Sketchup drawing, this helped with the dimensions and to understand the joints to be used.


Matt then produced a model, this also helped with understanding the jointing and to communicate to the client how the bench will look.

matt scale model bench web

Meeting at Kenilworth Town Council.

IMG_4331Then to the timber yard, we went to with a cutting list and templates to select the oak.

IMG_4618Back to the workshop and nesting the components for the bench then on to cutting them out, here Matt is using our narrow band saw to cut the individual components.




After cleaning up the edges on the spindle moulder (ring fence) and sanding them, he then jointed the components using a domino machine.

IMG_5663Assemble all the components and then clean up and oil using


34870520984_5960f4d953_oThe bench was then in our end of year show and then the following week installed at Kenilworth Castle.


Mayor Kate Dickson unveiled the new Mayoral Bench with the replacement plaques, a great evening and very happy client (s).




I’m running London Marathon April 2017


Well, I have been running 10km runs for a few years now and 6.2 miles is as far as I have every ran. I decided this year to see if I could gain a place in London Marathon 2017 So I applied for a ballot place, this is where you fill out your details and hope to get a place by lucky dip. I also put my name down to run for Children With Cancer UK and I was successful in gaining a place.

Oh my word, it is now sinking in that I have to train to run 26.2 miles and I have pledged to raise £1500 for this great charity. So I now have my fund-raising kit of donation boxes, posters and a t-shirt. So if you can help me raise funds for Children with Cancer UK, please click on

I will offering a number of events over the next 6 months, starting with shaving my head on 8th November.



Jamie Ward – University days part two

Well continuing with my memories of my university  days. After two years studying on HND Furniture making course, I then gained a place on BA Hons Furniture Design and Craftsmanship Course. It was a brilliant experience, with motivational tutors, excellent facilities and a varied cohort of fellow students.

Our first project was to make a dining chair, we didn’t have full rein over the design, just design the back splat and top rail. Well my chair was not earth moving but I enjoyed making a chair, upholstering the drop in seat and French polishing it too.


European Ash Fraxinus excelsior dining chair, first piece on my degree course, including the French polishing and drop in seat.

So we were off with the making and we had three pieces to make each year. Whilst making this chair we had wood machining sessions to introduce us to the machines, not that machining was new to me, I had spent 9 years as a machinist before going to uni, but its good to get refresher training! During the machining sessions we made a games table, so a reversible top with a chess board on one side and a book matched veneer with banding on the other. I also enjoyed making this fairly straight forward design from European Oak Quercus robur. This was the first time I had used Oak, during my joinery days we used mostly Redwood pinus sylvestris, so it was great to be using these heavyweight hardwood’s.

games table

Wood machining project – an European Oak Quercus robur games table with bog oak/oak veneer.

So we went through the three years designing, making and finishing our projects and learning so much. Using solid timber and understanding timber movement, using veneers and getting to use vacuum presses and making formers. In the first year we also did upholstery, including a drop in seat and a tub chair, not forgetting, making our own buttons. A very thorough education in furniture making and associated trades.

IM000179Staining components for my union flag table (see top picture).

IM000026Getting to grips with various furniture making skills including hand tools.

glassLoved using colour on some of my work, here is a screen I designed and made, influenced by Paul Smith


Finished ‘Stripes’ Screen.

So university was great, we did so much including learning about:-

  • Wood working hand skills
  • Wood machining skills
  • Cabinet construction
  • Visual studies
  • Veneering
  • Laminating
  • Metalwork
  • Upholstery
  • Finishing, French polishing, oiling, spray finishing
  • Technical drawing
  • CAD
  • Business studies
  • Historical and Critical studies (HACS)
  • Design
  • Water-colouring
  • 3D Studio Max
  • and more…………………………………………………

Jamie Ward -Researching Uni

This is the start of blogs by Jamie Ward Course Leader at Warwickshire College, the first offerings will be about my start in the furniture industry and in particular my university days.

After 9 years working in the joinery industry I decided to give up my job, sell my house and go to university. No-one in my family had been to uni and I was not close to anyone who had. So I felt it right to research my next home and degree course, but how? In the UK we have an organisation called The Universities and Colleges Admissions Services   back in 1995, when I was researching, this was just a very thick book with lists of colleges and universities and the courses they offered. I ran my finger through this directory looking at courses, facilities and some imagination of what these places of learning might be like.

I whittled the list down to 3 colleges that offered furniture making,  Shrewsbury College, London College of Furniture (LCF) and Buckinghamshire College (Bucks College) in High Wycombe. After visiting Bucks College degree show, I instantly knew this was the furniture course for me. Why? well, High Wycombe has a long history of furniture making, that I didn’t know until my research began. Secondly, I was very impressed with the course manager Prof. Philip Hussey, he spent an hour with me showing the degree show and the workshops and facilities, I felt comfortable and it felt right, I do often go on ‘gut feeling’ to make  decisions.

So sunny High Wycombe became my home for the next five years! 1996-2001

FullSizeRender (10)

Here I am on the first course I completed at uni, a HND  (Higher National Diploma) or as some say HAVE NO DEGREE. I used this course to ease me back into education and to ‘warm’ me up for the pending degree course. It was such a great way for me to start my training in furniture making.




Taken from

On Saturday 28th March the Anarchist’s Tool Chest built by Chris Schwarz and completed by us was auctioned at David Stanley auctions. Frankly we were as nervous as hell and wanting the best result we could get for Warwickshire College. Bidding began and advanced rapidly but fell just a hair short of the reserve we set (after all we wanted the college to get the maximum benefit for all of the effort that has been put in).

So, we gave the call as to what to do to the college: Either take the money or, receive the chest and all of its contents directly as a donation to the cabinetmaking course at Leamington Spa.

We are delighted to say that the college chose to take the chest as a direct donation. This is great news for them as it means students now have access to a range of hand tools that they would never ordinarily be able to use in an further education college. Jamie Ward (Head of the furniture making course at Warwickshire College) expressed real delight at the chest coming to the college – in fact to the very workshop where it was built.

It means that, as we intended, young and aspiring woodworkers will benefit directly for years to come. Both Warwickshire College and New English Workshop would like to thank Chris Schwarz for all of his efforts in building this chest, every tool maker and distributor who made a donation and, most of all to the students who signed up for one of our courses last year. Without all of you none of this could have happened.

To blow our own trumpet for once: what we have done here is a great example of piling much-needed resource back into the craft so, if you book a place on a woodworking course in 2015 make sure it’s one that does just that. That is exactly what New English Workshop does every time we run a course and it is thanks to the dedication of everyone involved: tutors, toolmakers, distributors and students alike. Thanks to everyone.

  • Paul Mayon & Derek Jones.