10 Day Traditional Joinery & Green Woodworking Course Overview

Course participants will learn historical way of traditional joinery and green woodworking/wood carving in a practical educational course using only hand tools and also learn about the historical and cultural context of joinery, furniture making and green woodworking in Latvia and Northern Europe.

Overall course description

  • Sash window frame making from scratch - sawn piece of larch to finished frame using bench and combination planes, sash filster planes, chisels, saws and hand drills.
  • Making a traditional plank doors from larch wood with forged hinges and locks.
  • Understanding and using different traditional joiners and wood carvers hand tools (17. - 20.ct) from different cultures - French, German, English, American, Latvian, Finnish, Japanese - chisels, axes, bench planes, combination planes, rip and cross cut saws, dovetail saws, draw knives, augers, marking tools - their history, sharpening and techniques using them.
  • Wood turning on a foot powered lathe making traditional Latvian “Midland” rush - seated chair from birch or ash wood.
  • Steam bending techniques for wood.
  • Introduction into traditional Japanese hand tools - Japanese chisels, Ryoba and Dozuki dovetail saws, Kanna planes.
  • Traditional joinery - mortice and tenon joint, dovetail joints, draw boring/offset drilling peg holes, half blind dovetails, wedged trough mortice and tenon joint.
  • Making medieval style rustic white oak bed using only wooden joinery.
  • Carving traditional Latvian bread making bowl from aspen or lime log.
  • Making smaller wooden bowls from birch and white oak logs.
  • How to sharpen gouges, chisel and plane blades on natural Novaculite Arkansas bench stones
  • How to sharpen a saw using files
  • Preparation and drying of green wood to avoid cracks and splitting.
  • Finishing techniques of wood using Japanese Shou-Sugi-Ban fire burning technique. Beeswax and propolis finish.

The class will be split into two groups of 7 students, working on the green wood carving and the joinery/furniture making respectively. After 5 days, the groups will swap from one to the other. As such, over 10 days, 5 days one group of 7 students will work on the green wood working and other group of 7 students will work on the traditional joinery. After 5 days the groups will exchange and will work another 5 days. So in 10 days each student will learn basics of traditional joinery making sash window frames, oak bed, rush-seated chair and green wood carving.

We will divide our course schedule between the morning- daytime hands-on learning of woodworking skills as we cut our joinery and carve the green logs, and the evening free sessions, where we will view slides and discuss a variety of topics relating to different crafts, history, traditional forestry, joinery, furniture making and design, green woodworking and dugout canoe making, lifestyle and enjoying being together. Some special wild food dinner upon course completion and 5 educational excursions.

All the woodwork will be carried out with traditional hand tools ALONE (axes, chisels, hand saws, augers, beam drills, drawknives, planes and e.t.c.) – both those made by The Northmen Guild and also old, restored hand tools.

This event will happen in a Wood crafts museum, on the grounds of the beautiful Gauja river National Park area in the village of Ligatne in Latvia. Students will be living/sleeping the nearby (6km away) guest house in Ligatne historical village, eating daily organic local food and enjoying the rural countryside and nature of Latvia while learning the craft from the Northmen guild's Master craftsmen. Students will have breakfast and dinner in the guest house and the lunch will be daily catered in the workplace at Woodcrafts museum.

Cost: 3450, Euros - includes everything in-country: tuition, accommodation, all meals, organized field-trips. Participants are responsible for their own international transport, travel insurance, and extra-curricular costs. Half (50% deposit) of the cost is paid when applying for the course (via PayPal or Credit/Debit card) and the remaining 50% - one month before the start of the course or cash at arrival.

Conditions for cancelling your participation in the course: if you cancel the participation 3 months before the starting date, we give back 75% of the deposit, if you cancel it 2 months before the start of the course, we return 50%, if you cancel later, we do not return the money.

Age limitation: 15+

Woodworking experience: Participants are not expected to have any joinery or green wodworking experience but any woodworking experience is appreciated.

Training site: The course will be held in Gauja River National Park at the village of Ligatne at Woodcrafts Museum.

Full lodging and 3 local organic food meals (per day) is provided from the day of arrival till the departure. In the evening of arrival will be provided dinner at 7pm. On the departure day will be provided last breakfast at 8am.

Language: The course will be held in English.

Special Wild Food Dinner

On the last day of course (Thursday) evening we will have a bike ride visiting Latvian wild food chef Eriks Dreibants in his Chefs Creative Workshop (www.dabasgarsa.lv/home). He lives in the middle of the Gauja National Park forest rangers house and we will go over Gauja river with the only (last) wooden ferry boat in Latvia and take a walk (3km) through the woods to his house. Erik will cook wild food meal on open fire for all the students and tutors. This will be our course completion celebration.

Course Tutors

Edward Dunne (1983)

Edward Dunne was born in Ireland in 1983 where he was introduced to woodworking from an early age. In his fathers workshop he grew up making toys, wood turning and developing his skills before learning woodworking in school from furniture making to wood carving. He then went to college to study furniture design and manufacturing where they specialised in hand tool use and the construction of one-off, high end custom furniture, as well as furniture history, design technology and philosophy, upholstery and finishing. From there he worked for himself in Ireland for a number of years, creating a variety of custom made fireplaces, solid wood doors, intricate hard wood flooring and furniture projects. He has taught woodworking and design in various schools in Ireland with students aged from 5 to 18 years. After that he went on to work and train as an electrician in his father’s high voltage contracting business in Ireland for a number of years before moving to Latvia where he has been designing and building timber frame structures, furniture and studying log building. Edward is a father of 3 children and has a Latvian wife.

Jacob Dimiters (1985)

Master carpenter and Timber Framing tutor in Northmen carpentry classes. Founder of Northmen guild and designer of Northmen woodworking tools. Has done a deep research in historical hand tools and medieval carpentry techniques. During the last 3 years Jacob has been teaching traditional timber framing to more than 200 international students. He started his journey as a cinematographer at 18 and after 8 years working in movie making went back to his childhood dream to become a carpenter and create things with his hands, building around himself a society where people are intoxicated with the joy of making and creating. In 2017 he formed Northmen Guild - a platform for independet craftsmen to share their work with the world. Jacob has been learning his carpentry skills from French carpenters, acquiring the knowledge of how to layout and cut precise joinery using rough hewn or crooked timbers based on ancient French and Japanese center line layout systems. Since then Jacob shares those almost forgotten techniques to his students. An independent movie maker. Father of 2 daughters.

portrait of Jacob Dimiters

Rihards Vidzickis (1979)

Richard is an experienced green wood worker, wood sculptor and dugout canoe maker. Richard’s passion to green wood and solid wood creations has grown together with him since his childhood days. Richard’s father is also a wood worker and carpenter and has led his son into the beautiful world of working with wood. Richard has gone through all the traditional steps of becoming a master woodworker - starting from an apprentice, then journeyman and then receiving his Master degree in Latvian chamber of crafts. Richard’s passion to wood is not only sculpturing and carving it but also knowing the wood in a scientific level. So Richard has studied in Technical university as a student and reached his degree of Doctor in engineering materials science, so he has combined the craft, nature and science in his life and work. While working in furniture making during the studies and doing different kinds of difficult wood carving for Jugend, Barrocal, Renesance design style furniture meanwhile, Richard discovered that he tends to get back to more rustic, robust and natural forms of wood, so he created a park of massive wooden sculptures, The Woodcraft Museum and a live workshop where Richard lives and creates wooden bowls, plates, boats and accepts visitors and teaches students to share his work and lifestyle. Richard is a father of 3 boys.

Educational Excursions

A Sunday morning open air breakfast and swimming in a crystal clear “Mežmuižas” Seven Springs lake

A Sunday excursion to Latvian Etnographical open air museum in Riga

Taking part in a traditional smoke sauna in a Historical Smoke Sauna at Brother Jurjani Historic House Mengeli

An evening walk to nearby Old Ligatne paper mill village by the shores, woodlands and cliffs of river Ligatne.

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