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Thread: What are the top woodworking schools?

  1. #1
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    What are the top woodworking schools?

    As the title suggests, I would like to know what are the most highly regarded woodworking schools that teach furniture design and construction methods, and would include modern CAD and CNC along with classical construction methods?

    I am helping someone who is seeking credentials and instruction.

    Thank you in advance.

  2. #2
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    On the west coast: https://thekrenovschool.org/about-the-school/

    Also, College of the Redwoods offers certificate programs in various woodworking and construction disciplines.

  3. #3
    Is this person looking for one week classes or quarter/semester length classes?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm Schweizer View Post
    ... I am helping someone who is seeking credentials and instruction. ...
    What sort of credentials? Degree? Certificate, for what, from whom?

    One possible place to check out is Palomar College (in San Marcos, outside of San Diego, CA.) I don't know much about their programs other than I'm told they have a great reputation. But I did see their facility when at FWW's Hand-On 2019 event (webpages have shots of the some of the site.) The facility was incredible and they had extensive space dedicated to woodworking. They offer two year degrees, as well as shorter courses, but you're friend will have to dig to see if they match what he wants.


    Of course, there are other classic schools. In addition to the Krenov School, there is North Bennet Street School and several other famous ones I'm brain-cramping on right now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Bassett View Post
    ... and several other famous ones I'm brain-cramping on right now.
    Found two more (seemingly very different) schools with programs.

    First, profiled by This Old House because of their degree/certification programs for entering home building trades is American College of the Building Arts. HERE is bit of the info from TOH.

    The other was Berea College mentioned by Lost Art Press. It's way outside of my experience with mainstream colleges where bigger is better, and more costly, seems to be a common characteristic. They have a Technology and Applied Design department, plus every student works at the university. The jobs in line with woodworking are in the Student Craft shops, some of which include traditional wood working and woodcraft activities. (LAP especially recommends their traditional broomcorn brooms.)

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    North Bennet School, Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, Kendall College of Art and Design

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    Thanks for the replies. This person is a very skilled woodworker and furniture restorer/builder who wants to go deeper into the craft. He is looking at schools in Europe, which are costly, but well-respected. The program he is most looking at has a 9-month program where at the end you get a certificate, and although he is seeking knowledge, the certificate adds value as he breaks into furniture design and marketing his designs. High-end furniture distributors have said it would benefit him to have some credentials to add to his experience. Imagine a musician who is a really good musician with no credentials trying to break into the industry, versus a graduate of Juliard.

    ***Added bonus is just the life experience, so it is not only the credentials.

  8. #8
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    One reason to choose a certain school is to take advantage of the contacts one makes. Which school is best depends on whom the person wants to work with.

    What field is this person going to work in? The range is from art to general contracting, all called woodworking.

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    I'll vouch for the woodworking program at Cerritos College, Los Angeles.
    They can teach you everything from handtools - how to restore them, use them, even make them, to CNC and other digital fabrication.
    They have a fantastic shop with any machine you could wish to use, great instructors and a friendly atmosphere.
    You can take as many classes as you can manage, or just one class a semester.
    Classes are scheduled in the mornings, afternoons and evenings, so it can suit your work schedule if needs be.
    I know that years back when Bay Area woodworker Jared Rusten went looking for a woodworking school he visited many of them far and wide and settled on Cerritos.
    The Krenov school is different in so far as it's a destination school - it's in a small town far from any metro area, has a fairly small intake, and I gather that students form a tight group identity. Cerritos, like many other schools, is in a big metro area, for some students taking classes is a social outlet, for others it's a career training, so the atmosphere will reflect that.
    Later today I am going to the retirement party for Carl Stammerjohn, who was head of the program at Cerritos. Carl was an incredible woodworker and teacher, and administrator. Along with Tony Fortner, who thankfully is still at Cerritos, they made that place special, never hesitating to offer help and encouragement above and beyond the course outline.
    Last edited by Mark Gibney; 05-23-2021 at 2:17 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm Schweizer View Post
    Thanks for the replies. This person is a very skilled woodworker and furniture restorer/builder who wants to go deeper into the craft. He is looking at schools in Europe, which are costly, but well-respected. The program he is most looking at has a 9-month program where at the end you get a certificate, and although he is seeking knowledge, the certificate adds value as he breaks into furniture design and marketing his designs. High-end furniture distributors have said it would benefit him to have some credentials to add to his experience. Imagine a musician who is a really good musician with no credentials trying to break into the industry, versus a graduate of Juliard.

    ***Added bonus is just the life experience, so it is not only the credentials.
    Your musical theory has some validity, but I don't think any one of the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Beatles, etc went to Juliard. I've been selling my work and my woodworking skills for over 40 years. What your friend really needs are some patrons. The high end world of hand made furniture and art furniture is driven by patrons. You can be the greatest in your field, but when wealthy patrons tell their friends, you really have made it. Reference Sam Maloof, George Nakashima, Wendell Castle

  11. #11
    Center for Furniture Craftsmanship.
    Rowden Atelier
    Waters and Acland

    Those in addition to the others mentioned.

  12. #12
    Your friend would be well advised to study the type of furniture the "high end distributors" are selling, and actually are willing to distribute. My take on today's furniture purchasers, 25-50 years old, is they want the latest trendy look (look in Crate & Barrel and similar catalogs) at low prices, and don't care if it has a 3-5 year life span because within 5 years it will not be the latest trendy look and they don't want people coming to their house seeing an older trendy look. To minimize shipping cost the furniture has to be assembled with screws, cross grain construction is fine, and the poor screw holding capability of particle board is not an issue.

  13. #13
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    There are several other schools that teach woodworking, design, and other associated skills that are highly regarded by many. you might also consider the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) and the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

  14. #14
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    I have run into professional furniture makers that are well equipped, make nice stuff, but not a lot of it. They also live well. They have trust funds.

    Perhaps the person in question is independently wealthy, and just wants training to be better at their art or craft.

    OP, what's the story?

  15. #15
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    This afternoon I ran into someone I know who spent a year up in the Krenov school - Covid cut off the very end of it.
    She said as a student you spend long days doing essentially handtool woodworking, and you can get very good at it. If what you are doing isn't perfect you start again.
    She had a few observations. She said there is not that much instruction. And she was lonely - she said the students mostly kept to themselves and friendships didn't blossom (she is a happy social well adapted person). She doesn't drink, most of the students did and going to the local bars was a big part of many student's life. As a result she got two major projects finished before the end of the academic year while most students were putting shellac on their one and only piece the day before the show.
    She didn't think the course prepares you for making a living as a woodworker. She would, however, recommend anyone take the course if they can.
    Another friend who got his associates degree in woodworking from Cerritos is just finishing a year at the Rhode Island School of Design. He said he needs that qualification (or similar) to be able to teach at a college in his future.
    I hope that info might be of some use to the OP's friend.

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