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Peter Sefton Long Courses

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billw

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Now, I KNOW Peter is on this forum, but it's perhaps the best place to ask. Peter's probably gone pale reading this hoping that I'm not planning on turning up but.....

I finish my degree in June, and if my property sells before August I am left with just the responsibility of two cats. My current plan involves doing a Masters and PhD (yes, I am definitely trying to avoid real work ever again) but if I have the cash then I'd much rather go and improve my skills with wood.

So, has anyone done the course? I would love to hear any views. Obviously you're free to PM me if you'd rather keep them confidential (even if good).

I should mention that I've looked at other courses too, I went to meet David Savage with the intention of going to Rowden, but obviously he's sadly passed away and whilst I am in no doubt that the school and its staff is good, the loss of its mentor does affect consideration. Others I've looked at include Williams & Cleal, Marc Fish, Waters & Acland, and John Lloyd.
 

custard

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Be careful when choosing a course, amongst furniture makers some training establishments enjoy far better reputations than others.

Amongst the issues I've heard about are inadequate safety standards, overly large projects designed to keep students occupied with minimal supervision, insufficient one-to-one instruction, inappropriate projects (ie over ambitious projects which look great in the publicity but that the student can only complete with a big helping hand to the point of virtually subbing out the really tricky tasks to the trainer, too much focus on out-dated areas, training that only exists as an afterthought to make a workshop financially viable, or low quality teaching that encourages poor practises.

One of the bizarre things is that students of some of the worst offenders are particularly fulsome with their praise! Whether it's a case of not knowing enough to see the shortcomings, or the woodworking equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome, I don't know!

Another issue you need to be aware of if you're considering training overseas is that some of the really big name workshops in other countries have now been subsumed within universities, with the result that the practical hand-on content has been squeezed down to nugatory levels.

Happily Peter Sefton's training is very highly regarded, if I were looking for UK training today he'd be on a very short short-list.
 

doctor Bob

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Out of curiosity, do these courses give a qualification or is the "qualification" the studied under X.
 

Doug B

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I can’t comment on the content of Peter’s courses as I’ve never attended one but I’ve seen the end results many times visiting his annual summer open day. If the quality of the furniture produced by his students is anything to go by the courses are well worth attending.

This is a bench displayed a couple of years ago made by one of his students

0DC4E581-8C40-4EBF-B25C-F9CDE495810F.jpeg

It really was high quality as has been all the work on display.
 

custard

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Some give a formal qualification, Chichester College for example had a sky high reputation for its HNC/HND courses, for others it's just the halo effect.
 

Jacob

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Depends on how you see the outcome. Being a competent hobby woodworker is one thing, earning a living is another.
I get the impression that the holy grail of "fine woodworking" isn't an earner unless you also teach or serve the industry in other ways. Very much a niche, very much aspirational.
Depends on what sort of woodwork you want to be involved in - there's a huge range of other stuff; esoteric niches, boat building, architectural joinery, kitchen fitting, restoration/repair, musical instrument... endless list and loads of matching courses.
Depends what your existing qualifications and skills nclude and what is missing; design itself being the weakest link for many.
Design course? Art college? HND? City and Guilds? Marketing and retail?.....
 
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Droogs

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You could also consider the chippendale school they have a good rep
 

Jacob

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I can’t comment on the content of Peter’s courses as I’ve never attended one but I’ve seen the end results many times visiting his annual summer open day. If the quality of the furniture produced by his students is anything to go by the courses are well worth attending.

This is a bench displayed a couple of years ago made by one of his students

View attachment 100604
It really was high quality as has been all the work on display.
Nice one - but to make a living you'd need to make them in batches and be able to market them.
 

doctor Bob

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I can’t comment on the content of Peter’s courses as I’ve never attended one but I’ve seen the end results many times visiting his annual summer open day. If the quality of the furniture produced by his students is anything to go by the courses are well worth attending.
I follow Peteron facebook, and I'm always amazed by the skill the new students show for beginners.
 

Doug B

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Nice one - but to make a living you'd need to make them in batches and be able to market them.
Without doubt your right but you need to acquire the skills in the first place to make a sellable item & from the sounds of things Bill is more interested in acquiring skill than going into business 🤷‍♂️
 

Doug B

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I follow Peteron facebook, and I'm always amazed by the skill the new students show for beginners.
Completely agree Bob, I now know via Instagram a few of Peter’s previous students & they only have praise for his courses.
 

doctor Bob

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From what I have seen, some of Peters students go on to open successful businesses, others become better hobbiests.
Not sure the commercial aspect mentioned by Jacob has any relevance.
 

JoeSheffer

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I agree. It's why many of these woodworkers seem to run schools now, as opposed to making furniture. It's a far more profitable business than actually having to get high end cabinet making/furniture making work even for someone who is a really seasoned pro.

I did a couple of weeks taste with David Quin at the Furniture Craft School. Really enjoyed it as a hobbyist, but felt that many of the full time students who were there were also hobbyists as well, semi-retired etc.

The cost of the full time courses is also quite eye watering. I've no idea how people fund them. Peter Sefton's 6 month course is about £12,000 if i remember correctly... ouch.

I also suspect there is absolutely no point in looking at this until this coronavirus nightmare is over. Gargh!!!
 

Jacob

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Some give a formal qualification, Chichester College for example had a sky high reputation for its HNC/HND courses, for others it's just the halo effect.
Looks like "real world" woodwork! The advantage of old establishments is that they may be running long established courses developed/derived from highly respected and ancient City & Guilds, closely involved with the trade. Even the starter course is a full year: StackPath
 

shed9

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I've completed one of Peters short courses, it was a three (possibly four) day course last year.

Nicely placed workshop on the outskirts of Upton-upon Severn, lots of natural light and well equipped. Peter is a superb instructor and I would do another course in a heartbeat.
 

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If money isn't an issue Bill then I'd go with the school that gives you the most personal satisfaction and skill development. I did an evening class at Rycotewood in Thame Rycotewood Furniture | Furniture Making College | Oxfordshire during the early 2000's and really enjoyed it. I started with virtually no wood working knowledge, having been trained as an Engineer. The tuition was excellent and I learnt a lot but sadly they closed it down and moved it to Oxford. I followed them there but the tuition was poor in comparison as our tutor left and the instructor/student ratio was far too big, so I left, I don't know what it is like now.
 

billw

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Ok yes, let’s just clear up one thing - I have no interest in making money out of this. You only live once and I’ve done my service to wage slavery and materialism, it’s a one way path to “nothing is ever enough” and unhappiness because whatever you own will never be as good as the guy next door etc. It’s like bidding against yourself in an auction.

My aim is to become more competent and enjoy my years on this earth. I can certainly do that by being academically minded, I could leave a load of academic papers and theories as my legacy.

However, making things is what I enjoy, even Lego.
 

custard

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At the end of the day it's all about the instructors and that's just as true in the HNC/HND environment.

The head of the Chichester operation is passionate and committed, he gives up his free time to manage Britain's Cabinet Making team in the World Skills competition, in which he's achieved a stellar medal record. He's the Pep Guardiola of furniture making!


At the other end there are HNC/HND courses where the instructors couldn't care less. That rubs off on the students who end up chucking bits of wood around and vandalising each others projects. Total waste of time for all concerned.
 

mikej460

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Ok yes, let’s just clear up one thing - I have no interest in making money out of this. You only live once and I’ve done my service to wage slavery and materialism, it’s a one way path to “nothing is ever enough” and unhappiness because whatever you own will never be as good as the guy next door etc. It’s like bidding against yourself in an auction.

My aim is to become more competent and enjoy my years on this earth. I can certainly do that by being academically minded, I could leave a load of academic papers and theories as my legacy.

However, making things is what I enjoy, even Lego.
I'm totally with you on this Bill (well apart from the Lego) I also love building stuff. I also studied all through my teens, twenties and early thirties stopping at a Masters but was almost tempted by my tutor to do a PhD but I had a growing business to run so declined. Of all the studying I've done the MBA at Lancaster Uni was by a huge measure the most enjoyable but hardest work I've ever done; it really grew me academically. Then after many years in business I had enough of the rat race and retired early to focus on what really excites me, my small holding, my old Landrover Defender and now my re-vitalised interest in wood working. Life is for living and b*gger the fact that the neighbour now has a better car than you!
 
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Jacob

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Thinking about what course I'd do if I could. Off to the woods with Jogge Sundqvist! Nothing on at the mo but he normally does summer courses and also travels to events/camps etc.
It translates if you find the right button!
 

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