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A great deal can be achieved on our short furniture making courses....



"The course was incredible. Everybody was really accommodating and approachable, including fellow students. It was great that so much was covered in a very short time, and in lots of detail too. I would return in an instant!" Dan, August course 2017

"Just a note to say thanks to  you, Jim and Justin for the course last week.  I very much enjoyed it and given my lack of experience and skills was amazed and delighted at how well the bookends turned out." Allen, August course 2017

Five new students gave up a week of August sunshine (....well sunny spells amoungst cloud!) to come and try their hand at cabinetmaking on our One Week Introduction to Fine Furniture Making course. 

Helen, Tom, Dan, John and Allen came to the course as beginners or with a few basic skills, and after completing the week with us saw their skills and knowledge advanced considerably. By the end of the week, they were all turning out dovetails with the same precision, accuracy and beauty as our full time furniture students. The course fired their enthusiasm for furniture making, so much so, that they are tempted to rejoin us for future bespoke courses! In fact - we welcome Allen back for a two month course in October!

Year on year, we evaluate and refine both our long, short and bespoke courses to ensure that our students are getting the very finest experience and tutoring in making high quality bespoke fine furniture.

This year, we've decided to have a change to our set project. We considered a range of small projects very carefully for the opportunities that they would provide to the students in terms of knowledge, hand and measuring skills, understanding of basic joints, understanding basic workshop drawings and choosing/working with different timbers.  After careful deliberation, we settled on making a pair of bookends -  which as well as being incredibly useful  - provide a wide scope of learning experience in the making process.

Your beautifully dovetailed bookends can also be displayed as pride of place in your home and your work admired by all those who visit you.

For more information on our next short woodworking courses, or short bespoke programmes. Please call us on 01984  667555 or e.mail us on

Sep 12, 2017


Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design 2017


Last week the annual Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design took place at the Thirlestaine Long Gallery at Cheltenham College in Gloucester. CCD is the largest exhibition of contemporary desigher-maker furniture in the UK and it draws visitors and exhibitors from around the world. The exhibition showcases the work of the very best makers and emerging talent in the world of furniture design and making.

It is a really important calendar event for our students - and  we strongly encourage our students to not only submit their work for entry into the Alan Peters Award for Excellence (which gives three new designer-makers the opportunity to win free exhibition space for their entry at the Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design) but also to visit the Celebration of Craftsmanship and immerse themselves in the design styles and work exhibited there.

Our current students attended the show's VIP opening evening, and met with several past Williams and Cleal students - all now successfully running their own bespoke furniture companies and exhibiting their work at the Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design.

It was great to see past students Damain Robinson from BlytheHart Made, Maria and Charlie from Byron and Gomez, Irene Banham from Irene Banham Furniture and Thomas from Thomas Whittingham Furniture all recieving great interest in their work. Congratulations to our student Finn James, one of the winners of this year's Alan Peters Award for Excellence who won the opportunity to exhibit his 'Brompton' coffee table at this years show.






Aug 30, 2017


The Crossover Between Cabinet Making and Digital Manufacture


In furniture design, the advent of CNC machines and digital printers have enabled designers to reinterpret the expectations of the medium. We can now combine traditional craft skills with complex contemporary twists made possible with elements that have been digitally manufactured.

There are some effects that are difficult to achieve solely with hand tools, and equally there are hand techniques that are not efficiently replicated well by CNC or digital printing – but the crossover of the two can push the boundaries of furniture design to make something truly unique and beautiful.

At Williams and Cleal, we have an expanding student library of design and furniture making books – which students are free to borrow at any time. The book that has the students talking this month is ‘Digitally Handmade’ by Lucy Johnston. The topic is particularly apt, since our student Jan is experimenting with digital printing to add a unique level of detail to the handles on her latest design, which would otherwise be exceptionally difficult to make by hand.

Jan comes from a background in Computer Graphic Imaging Design and Imaging, and has just invested in her own Prusa i3 M25 – kit build 3D printer. Jan has designed some drawer handles that take the shape of a small mountain range complete with contoured hills, tiny pine trees and a mountainside cabin – a scene in miniature that would be virtually impossible to create by hand.

Jan has so far experimented with prototypes made in PLA - (PLA) or polylactic acid. It is a bio-degradable thermoplastic polyester derived from corn starch, sugarcane or cassava root. Jan is yet to decide what the final handles will be printed in. It takes about 4 hours for Jan's printer to create the handle prototypes. Jan builds the designs herself in software compatible for the 3D printer.

The crossover of digital manufacturing methods and furniture design is part of our design theory sessions here at Williams and Cleal. Jane Cleal has incorporated digital production methods into her own work and shares her experiences of these processes with our students. Jane’s most recent ‘Circle’ bowl coffee table, used CNC production methods to manufacture the stack laminated birch ply of the bowl and complimented by a lid made in Macassar Ebony Veneer. Many of our students also pick out Jane’s CNC cut bowl as a favourite from the W & C gallery.


Our tutors encourage and will help to nurture the designs of students who choose to explore mixing traditional craftsmanship with digital manufacture. We will also connect you with companies to whom Williams and Cleal outsource CNC or digital manufacture work. This way, the size and complexity of the equipment and skills that we have access to, is infinitely surperior to the machines we could accomodate at our own workshop.  

If you’d like to see more of the possibilities in furniture making enhanced by digital manufacturing methods, we suggest looking at the ‘Cinderella Table’ or the ‘Lectori Salutem’ by Jeroen Verhoevenm the ‘Three Drawer George’ by Gareth Neal or the ‘Fractal Table’ by Werteloberfell – or indeed many of the other artists covered both in Digitally Handmade and across the internet.

We’ll be posting more about our student Jan’s journey with her digitally printed handles in upcoming posts.

Aug 18, 2017


Kerfing and Free Form Laminating



On a Thursday, we normally have ‘Hand Tool Thursday’s’ where our tutor Jim likes to showcase various items from his collection of accumulated and inherited hand tools. However, this Thursday was all about demonstrating different wood bending techniques to the students.

First up was Kerfing. Kerf can be defined as the width of the wood that is removed by the cutting process.

Kerfing is the process of cutting a series of kerfs (cuts) along the side of a piece of wood in close proximity, in order to allow the wood to be pliable enough to follow a curve. When cutting kerfs, the wood needs to be cut  deep enough to the edge of the wood that the remaining fibres are free to bend. To cut too deeply will result in the wood breaking in two, or making cuts that are not deep enough will result in the wood snapping. It’s best to experiment, but you’ll most likely find that an uncut width of 1/8 in. or thereabouts works for most woods.

Your kerf spacing will affect both the maximum radius that you can bend, and how smooth your curve will look – the closer the kerfs are together, the tighter the radius you can bend. You can only kerf by crosscutting as to do so with the grain increases the likelihood of the piece splitting.

For the demonstration, Jim cut kerfs that loosely demonstrated the effect. In practice, you would normally use a formula to calculate the exact distance between your kerfs, to achieve the smoothness of the curve you require. Many kerf bending formulas are available online.

While kerfing is an easy and useful technique for bending wood, it is suited to applications where a curve is aesthetic rather than structural, as kerfing does not create a form with great strength.

The magic of kerfing never wanes and all the students (and office staff) were keen to have a play.

Next up…. was free form laminating.

Jim demonstrated a range of different free-form laminating methods using constructional veneer. Take a look at our Instagram feed to see the laminations  glued and clamped into shape, and vacuum pressed.

Constructional veneer comes in a variety of timbers and it is thin and pliable enough to bend. You can simply spread glue on their surfaces and clamp them in layers to the shape that you desire and leave in place for the glue to set. In Jim’s demonstration, the lamination was clamped and wrapped with a ribbon of old tyre inner tube to keep the layers tight together until the glue had set. It is the hardened glue between each layer of veneer that holds the shape of the twist or curve. The multiple glue lines between each layer make the assembly strong, stable and rigid.

As a variation on this method, Jim demonstrated the same concept, but using a vacuum press to hold the shape of the glued layers. The constructional veneer was glued, shaped and then pre-wrapped tight with release film to prevent the breather fabric getting sucked between the laminations, or sticking to the laminate while it is being compressed. As the air is being evacuated, the bag is smoothed out over the assembly to make sure there are no significant wrinkles where it touches the veneer.


The advantage of laminating in a vacuum press is that the process creates an even atmospheric pressure over the glue up, making for a consistent strong assembly.

Head to our Instagram page to see more videos and photos of Jim’s wood bending demonstrations. Click here.

Aug 16, 2017


Commissions Continued… The Art Deco Memory Box



One of the first projects that our students make here on our course is a box. This starter project is chosen because it introduces them to hand cut veneering and hand cut dovetails, and acquaints students with power tools like the router for the first time.

Furthermore, the box project is the perfect choice for giving them early design input on their box. They lead on the box lid design and have the freedom to arrange or detail the box interior to their own preference. It is also a great introduction to different types of timber, and each student chooses the wood or veneer that they feel best compliments their design or personal taste. Our students will then be shown wood finishing techniques, and are taught how to finish their boxes in the right way and how to apply an oil finish.

Much like the table in our last blog post, the commercial arm of Williams and Cleal shares workshop space with our students and often our commissions provide really interesting case studies.

Such is the case with our latest commission – an Art Deco Inspired Memory Box – which features a high gloss polyester finish that has sparked great interest from the students and our Instagram following.

The client’s specification was for an Art Deco inspired box, large enough to store keepsakes like DVD’s, CD, photographs, documents and small items. The lid is split and opens from the centre, and it is secured shut by magnetic closers.

The box is made in Macassar Ebony, with the Art Deco design picked out in Rippled Sycamore. The box interior is Rippled Sycamore a red Alcantara base.

The box was sprayed with a high gloss polyester finish which is really successful in bringing out the grain on the Macassar Ebony and Rippled Sycamore. It has been a good commission for our students to see how wood finishes can transform a project and draw attention to the rich tones and striking beauty naturally occurring in different woods.

Polyester has the highest molecular structure and strength of all the finishes available and therefore the finished surface is strong, making it less vulnerable to scratching and cleaning. Polyester also has a 100% sheen clear finish for a mirror-like gloss, and it works perfectly for the art deco style of this commission.

You can see a video of the finished box here.


Aug 8, 2017


When Craftsmanship Meets Technology - Commission for a 16ft Illuminated Dining Table



The school shares a workshop with the commercial arm of Williams and Cleal. This augments the learning of our students, who are able to observe our master craftsmen working on a range of different commissions, or to access expert help from our furniture makers in addition our tutor’s time.

Often a commission comes along that breaks the mould of regular work. It demands a combination of technology, craftsmanship and use of alternative and modern materials – and involves a good deal of careful design, research, and expert collaboration to bring the piece together.  These commissions make excellent case studies for interested students, particularly when the processes that we use are at the forefront of developments in industry.

Our recent commission for a 16ft long colour changing illuminated dining table has been just such a project. The client’s specification detailed a dining table with glass legs that would make the table appear to be floating. For the table surface, they wanted a purple eucalyptus veneer with two central glass panels, on which an ‘ethereal’ swirl design could be illuminated by hidden LED’S. The purple veneer was chosen for its rich colour that by contrast would enhance the lit glass panels.

The glass elements of this table required us to work at the leading edge of glass technology. Taking advantage of new laser systems in Europe, we subsurface engraved the clients chosen design into two huge 1580mm glass inserts for the table surface. In subsurface engraving, the lasers are focused below the surface of the glass to create small fractures. This makes visible structures appear inside the glass whilst leaving the surface free of any abrasion. Cerion lasers create four or five layers inside of the glass, as opposed to just one layer on the surface seen in normal Co2 engraving. Therefore there are greater points within the glass to pick up the light, and it creates a cleaner etching to minimize distortion of the design.

Similarly, the floating glass legs were designed and sourced in collaboration with specialist manufacturers in Europe. Superior technology enabled us to source the correct clear structural glass, and to cut the table leg design with unrivalled precision and accuracy from Jane’s drawings.

Williams and Cleal sourced and installed all the LED electrics for the table illumination, and it took a good few tests to achieve a level of illumination that we were happy with. Achieving the optimal lighting level, required the right power of LED’s matched with the position of the LED strips on the glass. We had to find the right distance between diffusion panels and the LED strips hidden in the table recess - to blend out spotlighting effects otherwise seen at the edge of the table. It was important to the client that the lighting source was not visible at the edges of the table -  in order to enhance the magic of the engraving being illuminated.

Jane’s design included a central column underneath the table concealing the LED technology. Williams and Cleal rigged up the technology that enabled our client to change the colour of their table to millions of colour variations by voice command, and by manual control of a colour wheel on a mobile phone app.

The client’s colour preferences were of soft whites, pinks and golds and we were able to preset these choices and store them for their convenience.

The table surface was made here at the workshops from a core of purple Valchromat – chosen for its consistency and density across both the board and colour. It was veneered with Tabu Purple eucalyptus veneer as chosen by our client.

The finished result is an elegant showpiece dining table, with a unique level of interactivity afforded to dinner party hosts and guests in the changing colour features of the glass.

It’s been a pleasure to make another commission that draws together new processes in materials, components and technology – and a fine example to our students how design can incorporate these different elements to make a truly unique piece.

See our colour changing table in action here!


Aug 4, 2017


Shortlisted for the 2017 Wood Awards!


We are thrilled to announce that student Damian Robinson's Hex Cabinet has been shortlisted for the 2017 Wood Awards!

The Hex Cabinet was Damian's final project during his course at Williams and Cleal. 

The inspiration for the Hex Drinks Cabinet comes from the colour and uniformity of bees’ nest found in the Damian's garden. Hand cut veneers in contrasting timbers and grain patterns were used for the honeycomb. Damian laid the veneer hexagons out in sequence while referring to the actual nest. The edges of the doors were designed to meet in a line that followed the interlinking hexagons.  The inset brass levers devised to open the doors were made in the same size of the hexagons to mesh seamlessly with the overall design. English bog oak, dating from 3,300BC, was selected to set off the complex honeycomb pattern without interference.

You can read more about the 2017 Wood Awards Shortlist here.

You can also visit Damian Robinson's company website - Blythehart Made at:

or follow Damian on instagram at:

Well done Damian!


Jul 31, 2017


2017 Somerset Guild of Craftsmen Furniture Prize!



Drum roll please.....

We are pleased to announce that student Alistair Buchan received second prize for his Jurassic inspired table in this years Somerset Guild Furniture Exhibition.

The table was made in English Oak and sandblasted to give a weathered appearance. Patinated Bronze Supporting Fins were used to support the table segments and it was a great exercise in solid wood construction.

In the exhibitions 'People's Choice award' we are also thrilled that Williams and Cleal students received the most votes, Alistair for his table. Alberto for his 'La Negra' chair and Laura for her folding table.

Alberto Perez'  stunning La Negra chair was Alberto's first project and the design really challenged and pushed his making skills - with beautiful results. Made in Walnut.

Laura Aldrich Blake's retro style drop leaf table with formica surface was made to a brief about batch production, so was made using various jigs so that it could be easily repeated in small numbers. It was a challenging piece to make with tapered cylindrical legs and lots of angles.

The photo shows our Lead tutor, James Ralph, accepting awards on behalf of the students.


Jul 20, 2017


Student, Finn James, is a Winner of The Alan Peters Award for Excellence 2017 (Student Award)



We are extremely excited to announce that our student, Finn James, is one of the winners of this years Alan Peters Award for Excellence.

Finn's funky low oak coffee table was laminated from 10 layers of 5mm flexi-ply and was veneered in beautiful figured quarter sawn oak. To emphasize the shape the edges were coloured a very light grey. Finn's project was a great introduction to jig making, laminating and veneering.

Finn's award winning piece was constructed in a way to look like one continuous lamination and looked absolutely seamless. A real testament to the craftsmanship that went into the design and making of Finn's first ever piece designed and made here.

Finn's table will be exhibited in Cheltenham from the 19th to the 28th August. To find out more about the Alan Peters Award for Excellence please go to:

Our congratulations also go to Freya Whamond and Christopher Cooper, who were also winners of this award. 

Here is what the Judges said about Finn's table:

Finn James - 'Brompton' coffee table

(Williams and Cleal Furniture School) 

What the judges said:

“This is a visually simple piece, however its clean form has been subtly enhanced by the choice of veneer and top recess to add just enough interest to the piece to ensure that it is not dull.  The execution of this piece is excellent and this is particularly important for a piece where any un-crisp lines would completely break the piece aesthetically.”

 “The judges were particularly impressed this year by three very different pieces.  We felt that each, in their own way, showed good ambition, offered interest both visually and in their construction, indicated a good understanding of the materials used and demonstrated accomplished workmanship” said award judge and director of Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design, Jason Heap.

 Each of the three winners also stand to gain £100 to spend on tools and equipment with Wood Workers Workshop who have generously sponsored the award whilst Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design also offer each winner a 50% discount on their exhibitor fee if they return as a professional designer-maker the following year to reveal their progress since winning the award.

Jul 5, 2017


Students Submit Entries to the Alan Peters Award for Excellence, and The Somerset Guild of Craftsman Furniture Prize.



We wish student Finn James the best of luck with the entry of his low coffee table in the 2017 Alan Peters Award for Excellence.

Finn laminated his table from 10 laters of 5mm flexi-ply and it was veneered in beautiful figured quarter sawn oak. To emphasize the shape the edges were coloured a very light grey.

The  Alan Peters award is designed to encourage and promote emerging young talent within the bespoke furniture industry. It gives up to three new designer-makers the opportunity to win free exhibition space for their entry at Celebration of Craftsmanship & Design. This allows winners to exhibit and network with established and highly regarded professionals within a selling environment, gaining valuable experience and exposure to a very discerning and knowledgeable audience.

Fingers crossed for Finn!

We also wish the very best of luck to students Laura Aldrich Blake, Jan Lennon and Alberto Perez for their entries into the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen Annual Students Furniture Prize. The students all took their furniture to the Wells Exhibition Gallery last week. We eagerly award the judges decision in a few weeks time.

We actively encourage our students to enter furniture prizes and to exhibit their work, to get their design style and name out there - to become visible as emerging makers. It is also an important opportunity to network and make contacts, or to generate publicity in starting out your career as a furniture maker.


Jun 29, 2017


Carving Day



This week we ran a woodcarving day on our courses here at Williams and Cleal.

Demonstrations included routing curves, sanding to a finish, chiseling techniques and finishes.


You can view a video compilation of the day's activity here.

Apr 20, 2017


Our Spring 2017 Newsletter is here!



Our Spring 2017 Newsletter is now out! 

This year, is the Williams and Cleal 10th Year as a fine furniture making school - read all about how the school came to be. Watch our Steam Bending demonstration to the students, read about our offsite visits to Artichoke and Vasterns Timber, and see the recent article in Furniture and Cabinetmaking about our students work!

This and lots more in the Spring Newsletter. See more here.

Mar 22, 2017


Student visit to Artichoke Ltd and Vastern Timber


This month, our students have been on two trips to augment their learning and understanding of the furniture making industry.

The first trip was to Artichoke Ltd, a high end bespoke furniture company based in Cheddar.  Bruce Hodgson and John Hampton kindly gave their time to tour the students around the workshop of Artichoke and talk to us about the developments in the industry in design and production. It was a very inspiring visit, and very informative for the students in terms of developments in the furniture making industry.

Our second trip was to Vastern's Timber near Woottenn Bassett. Tom Barnes kindly spent a few hours touring our students around the timber yards. Tom gave a very informative talk on everything though to how the timber is cut, dried and stored... to advice on good timber selection.

Both visits were incredibly useful to the students and a real highlight to the week.



Mar 20, 2017


Our students work is featured in the April edition of Furniture and Cabinet Making Magazine '17!



We are delighted that the furniture of seven Williams and Cleal students features in the April 2017 edition of Furniture and Cabinetmaking Magazine!

Damian Robinson's Hexagonal Drinks Cabinet also makes the magazine cover feature - well done Damian!

The gallery article "Masters in the Making: Behind the scenes at Williams and Cleal" features the work of Alistair Buchan, Jessica Fairley, Damian Robinson, Tom Moy, Charles Byron, Tom Jarrold and Ruth Bowers. It is great to see their work beautifully showcased in this edition of the magazine.

Mar 20, 2017


Dumond's Scholarship Fund for Woodworking Courses and QEST Scholarship Fund 2017.


Paul Dumond of Dumond's Scholarship Fund for the Arts has kindly been in contact with Williams and Cleal Furniture school - because he would like to open up applications to his fund from our students.

Dumond's scholarship fund was originally open only to US students on accredited courses, but Paul has now decided to change the elligibility criteria to enable international applications from students attending courses worldwide. Successful applicants will receieve $1000 towards their course to progress their craft experience.


The QEST (Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust) deadline is approaching for their 2017 Scholarship Grant. Applications must be in by the 19th January 2017. Awards between £1000 and £18,000 are made to successful applicants and the grant can be used to fund courses like our 40 week course here at Williams and Cleal. It is also a very prestigious award. 

Kate, our Student Support Coordinator, keeps abreast of course funding. If you need some pointers on where to start with funding please feel free to contact the office.


Jan 13, 2017


Furniture and Cabinetmaking Magazine's Feature Article - On Our Students Work For The Somerset Guild of Craftsmen Furniture Prize 2016.


We are incredibly pleased that the December issue of Furniture and Cabinetmaking includes a full spread feature article on the beautiful furniture, and award winning entries created by our students for The Somerset Guild of Craftsmen Furniture Prize 2016!

Damien Robinson's Writing Desk and Chair and Ali Buchan's Torii Gate Console Table shared joint second prize in the awards.

Ali's table design is based on the famous Torii Gate at the Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima, Japan. 

Damien's Writing table was made for his father-in-law. The piece is made out of solid American black walnut, selected for its beautiful crown and mostly straight grain patterning.

Our student Tim Hagon's Pippy Oak table also gained recognition in the prize and was 'highly commended' by the judges, and fellow student, Andrew Wood also exhibited his Drinks Chest in brown oak.

Our congratulations to all the students that entered their work and well done to all!


Click here to read a full PDF of the article.

Oct 24, 2016


Our Autumn Newsletter is here!


The Autumn newsletter is here!

We are currently working to add more into our newsletters and we want to improve our future information with lots of useful tips and techniques for you all!

If you'd like to sign up to receive our newsletters, then you can do this by going to: 

or you can view the Autumn newsletter by clicking on the link below.

Happy reading!

Sep 30, 2016


Great news, Ruth's finished Rosewood Chair and news about her new job with Halstock!


Here is a shot of Ruth's fantastic Lounge Chair!

The seat was made of Birch ply veneered in Santos Rosewood, the legs laminated and faced with the same materials.
A mixture of complex compound angles and laminating made for a great project and it looks absolutely stunning.


Furthermore, following a recent trial week with Halstock (a designer, manufacturer and installer of luxuary bespoke interiors) Ruth has landed herself employment with this fantastic company and starts within a few weeks time!

At Williams and Cleal we have strong relationships with small and large scale local bespoke furniture making companies.

For those students who wish to take employment after graduating from our courses, we work in relationship with these companies to place students in employment or to offer career opportunities as fits each student's work aspirations.

Aug 5, 2016


Former Graduates Shortlisted for The Wood Awards



Former Student, Charles Byron, has been shortlisted for The Wood Awards for his Log Stack Cabinet - which Charlie made on his course while at Williams and Cleal. The Log Stack cabinet has been shortlisted in the Bespoke Furniture category and will be exhibited at @100percentdesign this September at The Wood Awards stand.

Well done Charlie!

Jul 29, 2016


Current Students Work - July 2016



Our students have been incredibly productive this summer and we've seen some beautiful work designed and produced.

Ali Buchan has just finished his incredible 'Jurassic Coast' inspired table and he has been in the studio photographing the finished piece today.

Tim has also been in the photography studio taking photos of his second design/make piece - a console table that plays tricks with the mind only having one leg.

Damian is working on a beautiful drinks cabinet with a hexagonal veneer design on the front. It requires a great deal of accuracy for all the hexagons to line up. It's coming along really nicely.

Ruth has been working on her Santos Rosewood and Birch Ply lounge chair, but is taking a break this week to work with Halstock - a potential future employer.

Finn and Harim have been working on their dovetailed boxes and have come up with some great designs.



Jul 22, 2016


Work Experience Students Create Bench on Placement with Williams and Cleal



Williams and Cleal recently hosted a work experience week for two students from Kingsmead School in Wiveliscombe.

Harry and Dan were challenged to take some planks of Oak, create a bench design and make it by the end of the week.

By Friday, two new benches were created and they made use of them to have a well deserved cup of tea and a sit down. We wish Harry and Dan all the best for the future.

Jul 22, 2016


Current Students Ali Buchan and Damian Robinson are awarded Joint Second Prize by The Somerset Guild of Craftsmen's Furniture Prize 2016.



Congratulations to current students, Alistair Buchan and Damian Robinson who have been awarded joint second in The Somerset Guild of Craftsmen's Furniture Prize 2016!

Ali entered his Torii Gate Table, which was the first piece of furniture that Ali designed and made with us on course. Ali said:

"Thanks to everyone at Williams and Cleal - Jane, Justin, Jim and all the other students. It's a great place to learn and make furniture and I couldn't have got this second prize without them. And congrats to Damian Robinson who I shared second prize with."

Damian's desk was also his first project design and make with us.

Jul 22, 2016


Halstock and Williams and Cleal Student Employment Opportunity



This week, our student Ruth has been given the opportunity to work at Halstock - a local company that design, manufacture and install luxury bespoke interiors. This is a great learning experience for Ruth and a fantastic employment opportunity.

Jul 22, 2016


Williams and Cleal at The Contemporary Craft Festival, Bovey Tracey


Williams and Cleal won the opportunity to exhibit for a returning year at the Contemporary Craft Festival from the 10th to the 12th June 2016. Jane Cleal has enjoyed talking to some of the thousands of visitors that attend the event about the work of Williams and Cleal, our school and courses.

Jun 20, 2016


Our Students Visit to Halstock


This week our school visited Halstock, a company that design, manufacture and install luxury bespoke interiors.The students got a real feel for the work carried out at Halstock with talks covering all aspects of production from consultation through to design, to creation and making. We look forward to working with Halstock going forward to enhance our students learning experience and employment opportunities.

Jun 20, 2016


Former Student Awarded Bespoke Guild Mark by The Furniture Makers' Company.


Former student, Charles Byron, has been awarded Bespoke Guild Mark #459 by The Furniture Makers' Company for his log stack cabinet. Charlie made the log stack cabinet while on course at Williams and Cleal. This is fantastic news and we are all really pleased for Charlie! Well done!


Read more about Charlie's award here

May 25, 2016


Crafts Council Select our former students for Hothouse 2016 programme


We are delighted that former students of the Williams and Cleal Furniture School, Charles Byron, Maria Del Mar Gomez and Thomas Wittingham have been selected amongst 41 other maker businesses by the Crafts Council to take part in the creative development programme Hothouse 2016.


This is the first time in the history of the Hothouse programme that five furniture makers have been selected for the development programme. You can learn more about Hothouse 2016 and our former students by visiting:


Makers selelcted for 'Hothouse"


May 4, 2016




Alot has been happening in the workshop recently, so I encourage you to check out our instagram page which is updated almost daily. For now though I though it would be interesting for you to see our current group of students. All at different stages of our 40 week course, we restrict our intake to eight in order to ensure they receive individual attention.

Mar 24, 2016


Charlie featured as one of the U.K's best up and coming talented designers in Wallpaper magazine!


Congratulations to former student Charlie featured as one of the U.K's best up and coming talented designers in Wallpaper magazine. 

Dec 14, 2015


Charlie makes the front page of F & C Magazine!


Congratulations to Charles Byron, whose 'log stack' cabinet has recently been featured on the front cover of 'Furniture and Cabinetmaking' magazine! 

The article writes about the highlights of the Somerset Guild of Craftsman Furniture Prize 2015. We are proud that Charlie was the winner of the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen Judge's Choice and winner of the Popular Choice Award 2015.

To find our more information about the 'log stack' cabinet head to


Oct 21, 2015


The art of Making


'The Art of Making' is an exhibition of work by students Lauren Goodman, Maria del Mar Gomez, Irene Banham and Charles Byron. Their work can be seen at the Paper arts Gallery Bristol between 16th-29th June. This is the beginning of their professional careers as designer-makers.

The Paper Arts Gallery

Jun 26, 2015


New Gallery Photo's


See our latest students pieces on our gallery.

Gallery pages

Jun 26, 2015


Charlie wins Peters prize


Congratulations to Charles Byron who has just won one of three Alan Peters awards for his Log stack cabinet. Awarded through Celebration of Craftsmanship this allows him to exhibit his cabinet for free at this top furniture exhibition in August. 

Jun 26, 2015


Good luck Irene & Stuart


Irene and Stuart have now come to the end of their time with us and will be greatly missed. Irene has moved back to Bristol and is now running her own furniture business. Stuart will be renting our fully equiped new workshop 1 mile away from the school which has been set up to support our students for that first period working for themselves. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours.

See their work at

Feb 6, 2015


Dovetailed box in a week!


We've just completed our latest short course where you can make a dovetailed box in only five days. It's a great way to build on your woodworking skills or pick up some new ones. 

Congratulations to Anna, Adam and Ted on their fine work.

Dates for our next short courses coming soon...

Nov 27, 2014


What next ?


Tom's completed his occasional chairs and now come to the end of the course . He has made some exceptional pieces over the past 40 weeks and will be missed in the workshop. Tom has accepted a great opportunity to work for Cimitree. We wish Tom all the best for the future.

Nov 6, 2014


Commercial Success


George has re-designed his handmade desk No 27.9 to meet the brief of small batch production. The results can be seen at Nina's House on the Kings Road London. Nina's House is a new concept shop retailing exclusive individually designed furniture.

Well done George !

Nov 6, 2014


Missing Out ?


Are you missing out on the weekly "Goings On" in the student workshop?

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Sep 25, 2014


Maria and George have completed their desks.


Both Maria and George have developed and realised their own design ideas and styles during their time here at Williams and Cleal. Congratulations to you both!

See more photo's at the Gallery.


Sep 24, 2014


Good woodworking September 2014



We have just received a great write up in the Good woodworking magazine. Appearing in the centrefold, with a "Best of the Rest" sticker under a title of "Editor's Choice". We are of course very proud of all our students efforts, and once again would like to congratulate them on their amazing work. With some of them still only half way through their time with us we are keen to see what they do next!

Aug 18, 2014


Success at The New Forest Show for Irene


Congratulations to Irene Banham. She entered the New Forest Trust Fine Crafted Wood competition 2014 - with her 'Chiefs Chair' in solid Olive Ash and Ash - and has just come second in the overall award at the New Forest Show.

Here she is receiving her prize from Paul HS von der Heyde, the Master of The Furniture Makers Company.  

Jul 30, 2014


New Gallery photo's


We have recently posted so many excellent and diverse new student pieces onto our gallery pages, I thought I should encourage you all to take a look!

Gallery Photo's

Jul 18, 2014


Successful Show


The students are back from New Designers. They all agreed that the experience was definately beneficial. The stand was very busy, two pieces were sold, and numerous contacts were made. 

Everyone was very complementary about the standard of the students work, with lots of interest shown, including the possiblilty of a design commission from a large retail group and an accessories company. 

Coming soon gallery photo's of all the pieces exhibited.


Jul 10, 2014


New Designers 2014

We have set up and I thought you might like to see a sneak preview of our stand, Well done to everyone who has been involved this year and lets hope we have a good show!



Jul 2, 2014


Packed up and ready to go!


The van is packed and we are ready to go - of to London with 8 students, who are all exhibiting at this years New Designers. We have some amazing pieces to show, so if you get a chance please come and visit us on Stand FP52.

New Designers 2014

Jul 1, 2014


Tom Jarrold wins Alan Peters prize


Cogratulations to Tom Jarrold who has just won one of three Alan Peters awards for his 'Elixir' Drinks Cabinet. Awarded through Celebration of Craftsmanship this allows him to exhibit his cabinet for free at this top furntiure exhibition in August. Well worth a visit.

Jul 1, 2014


A visit to "Crude Beauty"

As part of our little jaunt to London we popped in to see ex-student Thomas Cruz who was exhibiting his latest collection "Crude Beauty".

The exhibition is mixture of paintings, ceramics and furniture.

You can see more of Thomas's work at

May 22, 2014


Clerkenwell Design Week 2014

Earlier this week we had a llittle excursion to London to the Clerkenwell Design week. 

The exhibition now its 5th year is one the UK's leading independent design festival and annually attracts the international design community to London.

With over 60 showrooms and 200 design brands, it was a great opportunity for the students to see what other designers are making and maybe get some inspiration for their next piece.

You can see more pictures on our Facebook page.

May 16, 2014


Maria complete's her Walnut and knitted chair


Maria's innovative chair is not only striking in its combination of angular frames with turned rails, but has a unusual seat covering incorporating her many talents which includes knitting.

Well done Maria 


May 15, 2014


George complete's his first design and make project


In Georges own words - "by combining a natural, free-form top with precisely turned legs – crisp white with rich walnut – I wanted to showcase the different elements but also show them coming together and working in harmony. This coffee table needs no fixtures or fitting, its completely self supporting. The legs just slip into place.

Well done George on a very successful piece

May 15, 2014


New Designers 2014

The students will be displaying their work at New Designers 2014 exhibition at the Business Design Centre, London.  This our third year at the show, with more students attending than ever before.


May 2, 2014


Crude Beauty

Crude Beauty is the latest collection of work of past student Thomas Cruz, it is mixture of paintings, ceramics and furniture.

The exhibition is at the 5th Base Gallery, 23 Heneage Street, London E1

19th May 18:00 - 21:00 Opening Night

20th - 21st May 12:00 - 18:00


"Crude Beauty is a double-sided idea about how we view our world in terms of existence; how we eat, how we kill, how we survive. Most humans have forgoten how crude and real it is to kill another animal, essential for survival. It could be the way we do it that has changed our understanding of life and connectivity to nature. It is also something very beautiful, a way of recycling life, something that humans have abused and in a way taken meaning away from."

May 2, 2014


Tom's completed first design/make project

Tom's drinks cabinet is now completed. This elagant cabinet was inspired by the handle detail, which appears to be peeling away from the doors.

Congratulations on a very well executed piece.


Apr 17, 2014



This week the students had a finishing lesson, a variety of different techniques were demonstrated including:


  • Water staining
  • Spirit staining
  • Chemical staining, including ammonia, caustic soda and bleaches

Oils and Waxes

  • Linseed (raw and boiled)
  • Tung oil
  • Danish oil
  • Osmo Polyx Wax oil
  • Beeswax
  • Carnuba wax

French Polishing

For each of the techniques, surface preparation and health and safety issues are considered. Finally the students get to have a go so that they can see the results on different woods. 


Mar 14, 2014


Ex-student John featured in British Woodworking

Congratulations to ex-student John Nolan. His blanket box is featured on the front cover of March's British Woodworking magazine.

The article goes into the making of ths excellent piece and the New Forest Fine Crafted Wood Competition at which John won several awards.

Click here for the full article.

Feb 28, 2014


Craig's Rosewood Cabinet

At Last !! We finally took a quick photo of Craig's cabinet. Elegant in design and extremely well executed. Well done Craig. Now we have a number of items to photograph in our studio, we shall be uploading gallery shots in the near future. So congratulations to all our students.


Feb 21, 2014


Welcome to Stuart and George

We would like to welcome new students Stuart and George who started earlier this month.

Jan 24, 2014


Jessica's Front Cover

Congratulations to ex-student Jessica Fairley who's Glacier Cabinet has made the front cover of Februarys The Woodworker. In the article she talks about her time at Williams and Cleal, her inspiration for the piece and the making of the cabinet.



Jan 24, 2014

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