Stiles and Bates
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Working with wood has gained huge popularity in recent years among all ages, and not just among the boys!
Woodturning and furniture making give us the opportunity to work with this wonderfully warm and tactile medium to produce items for decorative, artistic and practical use that will last for generations.

Our venture into courses was the biggest expansion since converting the old cattle lodge into a shop in 1996.
We converted another farm building, this time the old stable block running parallel to the shop. It was a huge project for us but we were delighted with the work carried out by two local craftsman in retaining the original character of the building (parts of which are Tudor) whilst at the same time creating spacious and comfortable workshops, one specifically for woodturning, the other for carving, carpentry/cabinet making, walking stick making, pyrography and other crafts.
We spared no expense in setting up each workshop with the very best in tools and equipment to provide a safe and comfortable environment in which students can hone their skills and share their progress and enthusiasm with like minded people.
Since we started, we have sadly lost a number of our instructors to Father Time so for the moment are only conducting woodturning courses.
We can however arrange carving, walking stick making and pyrography courses by request for a minimum of four people.
Do email us if you have an interest in any of these courses.

The Workshops
We believe (and have been told) that we have the best dedicated teaching workshops in the UK and we've developed a reputation as the place where woodturners take their first tentative cuts or improve upon budding skills.
Join us for a few days of enjoyable concentration and satisfying achievement.
The Courses
We have courses designed for beginners or those wishing to refresh on the basics as well as a series of one day project courses for those who have mastered the basics.
All are based upon our popular ‘Friday demo’ format - knowledgeable and enthusiastic instruction in a safe and happy workshop.
Each student works on a Record Power CL4 lathe with comprehensive range tools and chucks.
For all courses, we provide a smock or apron, eye protection all the materials, tea/coffee all day, a sandwich lunch and offer student discounts in the shop.
What better way than to spend time than in the company of like minded people, ankle deep in shavings and banter, creating beautiful woodturnings to take home!

The courses are informal and fun; they've been developed to be as enjoyable as they are instructional, which is probably why they have proved to be so successful. We all learn best when we are enjoying ourselves, and time and again, people recommend the courses to their friends and even their mentors.
There can't be any better accolade than that!

On a serious note, our workshops comply with LEV tests for COSHH purposes, HSE Risk Assessments and Fire Regulations.
Full Public & Products Liability Insurance.

If you are thinking about taking a course with us, and want to know how others found them, see What They Say about our courses.
Join us for a few days of enjoyable concentration and satisfying achievement.
If you call in, do ask to see the workshops, we love showing them off!

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Woodturning Courses


Course Swan Song
With 2016 marking fifteen years of hosting almost two courses a month here, I have 
decided that in June, I will retire from them. 
Not retire, retire, just from hosting courses!!
During that time, having instructed over 1300 enthusiastic turners, I have had a lot of fun, made many friends and hopefully, inspired and enthused many to achieve a higher level of woodturning.
I will miss the courses for sure - the banter, the odd catch and the pleasure of seeing turners find that sweet cutting spot, but with the courses following five years of Friday demos to a crowd of up to 65 (the growing numbers forced us to give them up), for twenty years now,
I have always had my diary set twelve months in advance with little flexibility.
I would like now to spend more time pushing the business forward with our son Pete, improving the catalogue, improving the ‘How to’ pages and writing more magazine articles. That should keep me busy!
And when we can force ourselves to take more time off from this fantastic job we have,
Janet and I will find a lonely river, fool some gullible trout, or just watch the wildlife.
So thank you to all of you who have put your trust in me over the years, I am still here to help (as all the team are, and very capable they are too!) and have not lost any enthusiasm for having the shavings pile up on my arm or helping people to enjoy our craft.
Woodturning is a craft which has seen a huge rise in popularity in recent years, and not just among the boys!
It is creative, absorbing, affordable and does not require a huge workshop.
We hold beginner/refresher courses designed to give or refresh the basic skills so you can go back to your own workshop and create beautiful and practical items from simple pieces of wood.
For those who have mastered the basic cuts and wish to explore or improve techniques on specific projects, we have a series of one day project courses.
The only limit is your imagination!

Over the first coffee of the day, an introduction to safety in the workshop, the lathe, an explanation of the basic components, accessories and tools. We look at timber and the way in which grain and choice of timber affect selection for spindle uses.
An introduction to the selection of tools - each lathe has a comprehensive array of tools by different makers to give you the opportunity to compare and find a favourite. We visit sharpening frequently as we go along.

Then we make some shavings fly...

We start with a piece of softwood between centres and just get the feel of the tools - roughing from square to round, planing with the skew, shaping coves and beads with the spindle gouge and cutting a spigot for chucking. Using these skills, we then set about a simple spindle and faceplate project, explore design, use measuring tools, abrasives and finishing products.
The second stage is to design and make a good fitting base for the above which leads us nicely into day 2

More coffee, then how grain and figure of timber effect bowl and faceplate work. An introduction to a selection of tools.
Basic cuts with bowl blank mounted on faceplate or screw chuck, shaping and forming chuck grip and other mounting procedures then hollowing the bowl. The use of bowl gouge, scrapers, abrasives and finishing products.
Tool sharpening can be a grey area and cause frustration, especially when you first start turning.
One minute you get it right then another time you lose the shape and cannot get it back. We have all been there, done that!
During each course, we spend time on this important subject and hope you will be keen to bring along some tools for evaluation and resharpening as necessary.
Basic Cuts
We provide course notes to accompany the course with an added section on converting timber for your own use.
2 Day Hollowing for Beginners and Improvers
A brand new two-day course introduced last year catering for newcomers to hollowing, or those wishing to take on more adventurous pieces.
During the two days, everyone will have the opportunity to try different tools, like the Sorby Armbrace, the Crown Revolution, the Sorby RS200, RS130 and RS230, the Crown Mini Revolution and basic scraper cutters.
If you have your own hollowing tools and would like to bring them along to use or for evaluation or sharpening, please do.
We will start by roughing a 6" x 3" sq spindle to a cylinder, create a chuck grip, and then design and hollow a simple pen and pencil pot. This project is designed to give practice and confidence with hollowing tools on a piece where you can see the cutting edge most of the time. With regard to the design, you will have some licence depending upon your experience or ambition.
When we have shaped the piece, the emphasis will be on the technique of clean hollowing and achieving an even wall thickness. Using various callipers and measuring devices, we will try and adhere to the rule that the inside diameter must never be equal to the outside diameter . . .
The piece will then be sanded to a fine finish, coated with a sealer then reversed to remove the chuck grip to leave a clean base.
During the day we will take a break to explore the possibilities available for turning from salvaged lumps of green timber or branch wood for hollow forms or vases and for your second project, choose from one of these or use dry timber to create a hollow form or vase.
Shape and design will be an important aspect of this piece because at the end of the job, we want to see a great shape then add a wow factor by hollowing it delicately to an even wall thickness and light weight.
With the usually breaks for tea or coffee and chatting about timber and tools and sharpening, maybe colouring or even texturing, this second piece will take most of the second day to complete the hollowing, sanding, finishing and reversing to turn the chuck grip off.
The plan is that you will take home two pieces of work of a good shape, evenly hollowed and nicely finished.
Please be here for 9am for a prompt start.
We provide tea and coffee all day, a sandwich lunch at noon then sweep up at around 4.30 for a five oclock finish.
We also provide a smock, safety glasses and any other safety equipment you need plus all materials, so all you really need to bring is yourself and a smile!
If you would like to book a course (we ask for a deposit then the balance during the course), please click on Courses in the online shop in the left panel.




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Your Instructor
Course Swan Song
With 2016 marking fifteen years of hosting almost two courses a month here, I have 
decided that in June, I will retire from them. 
Not retire, retire, just from hosting courses!!
During that time, having instructed over 1300 enthusiastic turners, I have had a lot of fun, made many friends and hopefully, inspired and enthused many to achieve a higher level of woodturning.
I will miss the courses for sure - the banter, the odd catch and the pleasure of seeing turners find that sweet cutting spot, but with the courses following five years of Friday demos to a crowd of up to 65 (the growing numbers forced us to give them up), for twenty years now,
I have always had my diary set twelve months in advance with little flexibility.
I would like now to spend more time pushing the business forward with our son Pete, improving the catalogue, improving the ‘How to’ pages and writing more magazine articles. That should keep me busy!
And when we can force ourselves to take more time off from this fantastic job we have,
Janet and I will find a lonely river, fool some gullible trout, or just watch the wildlife.
So thank you to all of you who have put your trust in me over the years, I am still here to help (as all the team are, and very capable they are too!) and have not lost any enthusiasm for having the shavings pile up on my arm or helping people to enjoy our craft.
“I started turning when I was a kid then took it up seriously around 1980.
My passion for turning and all things wood led eventually to the shop, five years of Friday demos in the shop and then the courses.
Over the years I have been fortunate to share workshops with many turners, experts and beginners, and I have learned something from them all. 
In 1992, my main birthday gift was a three day hollow form course with David Ellsworth in his Pennsylvania workshop and ten years later, I took a three day carving-on-turning course with Ron Fleming in Oklahoma.
Since we converted the old stables especially for woodturning courses in 2001, more 1300 budding woodturners have produced thousands of shavings, had the odd catch and created some simple and beautiful turned pieces.

I am proud that some very good turners took their first tentative cuts on one of my courses.
The courses are informal and fun; they have been developed to be as enjoyable as they are instructional, which I hope is the reason they have proved to be so successful. 
We all learn best when we are enjoying ourselves and time and again, people recommend the courses to their friends and even their mentors. I’m proud of that! 
I have been a member of the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain (AWGB) since 1988, and have been a Registered Professional Turner on the Worshipful Company of Turner’s Register since 2001 which means that if you see me make a mistake or have a catch, you have to swear silence and believe I did it deliberately. It is not true that I have to shoot you!"
Dave Bates

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Course Dates
Course Schedule January ~ June 2016
January 2016        
22nd & 23rd Friday / Saturday Beginner/Refresher £225.00 View this course
February 2016        
11th & 12th Thursday / Friday Beginner/Refresher £225.00 View this course
26th & 27th Friday / Saturday Beginner/Refresher £225.00 View this course
March 2016        
11th & 12th Friday / Saturday Hollowing for Beginners and Improvers £225.00 View this course
April 2016        
7th & 8th Thursday / Friday Beginner/Refresher £225.00 View this course
22nd & 23rd Friday / Saturday Beginner/Refresher £225.00 View this course
May 2016        
12th & 13th Thursday / Friday Beginner/Refresher £225.00 View this course
27th & 28th Friday / Saturday Hollowing for Beginners and Improvers £225.00 View this course
June 2016        
9th & 10th Thursday / Friday Beginner/Refresher £225.00 View this course
24th & 25th Friday / Saturday Beginner/Refresher £225.00 View this course

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Course Testimonials
What customers say about Stiles and Bates Courses
Beginner / Refresher Course

I found the course very informative with regard to woodturning and tool grinding.

It has cured me of most of my bad habits – mainly due to my own ignorance.

You can read the book a hundred times but an hour’s tuition is worth the whole of the course fee!

Most of all, it was fun!!

Gordon Satterley, Ash, Kent.

The Basic Cuts notes are very useful and I look forward to producing my own pieces to compare with the 2 pieces we made in the workshop.

Excellent course, Excellent workshops, Excellent instructor, what more can I say.

I would recommend this course to anybody with the slightest interest.

Rick Godden, Ashford, Kent.

An excellent course. What I have learnt and put into practice over the past two weeks, all [the turnings] now have a better finish.

Being self taught up to now, I realised I had many bad habits.

I enjoyed the course very much. It was well structured and the workshop is excellent.  You could not ask for more and Dave Bates’ communications skill are very good – we all had a good time.

I came away with a good understanding of the tools and the best way to use the. Thanks for an excellent course.

Ronald Blake, Gillingham, Kent.

I found the course both helpful and entertaining.

Dave explained the issues clearly and had lots of patience.

It was very useful to go back to basics and learn the correct way to present the tools etc. It was obvious that Dave had done this before (!) and has an aptitude for explaining it well.

Many thanks for an enjoyable two days.

Dennis Knight, Chatham, Kent.

A thoroughly enjoyable course delivered in an informal but professional way.

As tiring as it proved to be, I was actually disappointed when the two days came to an end so quickly.

Ian Lowe, Maidstone, Kent.

Really friendly and relaxed atmosphere with plenty of one-on-one tuition and the opportunity to learn from the other students.

No pressure – even when something goes wrong, which makes the experience even better.

Extremely knowledgeable instructor with excellent communication style.

Finally, excellent sandwiches – compliment to the chef!

David Head, Maidstone, Kent.

I thoroughly enjoyed the course with you an achieved more than I thought I would consider I had only looked at my husband’s lathe before.
I have had a little practice on spindles at home (under supervision) and it went well. 
Need a lot more though!
Thank you for teaching a complete beginner the start of a new skill. PS. Your notes on the basic cuts is very helpful – I took them out to the garage before I started ‘playing’ and they gave me the confidence to start.
Mandy Hitchin, Maidstone, Kent.

Very relaxed approach by Dave in regard to instruction, clear and simple.
I got the feeling that nobody would never be asked to do more than one’s ability.
The use of abrasives to a achieve finishes was most interesting.
The catering was well received with endless hot drinks.
PS. The dog was good company.
Vic Brown, Headcorn, Kent.

An excellent course because I knew nothing about woodturning.
I did enjoy it although my nerves may have got the better of me on the second day.
Having said that, the information gleaned on the course as been attempted and put into practice.
I have set my lathe up and am running – practice, practice, practice.
Most of all enjoyed [the] company, thank you.
Christine Sykes, Herne Bay, Kent.

An excellent and rewarding course.

David Bates’ communication skills are first rate and make it all very clear, understandable and leaving you wanting to keep practicing and exploring.

His direct and encouraging approach to his vocation is excellent and makes for a really pleasant experience enjoyed by all participants.

I look forward to a revisit and would certainly recommend you to anyone considering woodturning.

Neil Burman, Medstead, Hampshire.

A very well drive course with good content.

The main emphasis [was] on practical with chips flying, most enjoyable.

Also, the ready assistance and attentive concern made a creative feel about the course.

Left the course feeling quite confident and my new ability but also understanding why the tools had to be used in their various ways.

Sharpening demo good. Time flew really. We were encouraged all the time, I liked that.

John Denman, Birchington, Kent.

The workshop was warm, well lit, well stocked and a delight to be in.

I found Dave to be charming, immensely knowledgeable and patient.

I felt at ease and enjoyed every minute.

Thanks Dave, I look forward to coming on your other courses as my skills improve.

Gordon Blake, Ash, Kent.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable and informative two days. There was a lovely atmosphere allowing everyone to ask questions no matter how silly they seemed. Answers were always full and to the satisfaction of the questioners.
Dave shared his time with everyone and showed great patience when we made mistakes.
As a teacher then Head Teacher, I have attended a huge number of courses.
Very, very few of them were as interesting and inspiring as this course. Thank you.
Ian Sheppard, Whitfield.

The course was great, perfectly pitched for a beginner like me, but also for the more experienced on the course.
I was completely bitten by the bug, so much so that a lovely lathe is now installed in the garage!!
Dave's patience and skill in teaching on the course can only be commended, and his continuing help via email is much appreciated.
Many thanks to Janet for the lunches and tomato chutney recipe!!
Sue Clifford, Four Elms, Kent.

Thanks for a very rewarding and worthwhile two days. Being totally self taught up to now, I realised many of my bad habits and techniques and you were able to offer advice and encouragement in a very non-critical, helpful way without making me seem inadequate.
The course booklet was another unexpected extra of immense value – I have referred to it many times and it is only Monday! Thanks also for helping to get started on sharpening chisels – it was one area shrouded in uncertainly and you at least made it approachable. … Would certainly recommend it to anyone wanting to get started or improve their woodturning skills. Thank you.
Roy Wareham, East Malling.

I bought a lathe a couple of years ago and struggled to make a few things.
Frankly, I was a bit nervous to experiment and uncertain how to develop any real skill, despite all the books and YouTube videos. The course, with Dave’s excellent tuition and constant encouragement, along with his sense of humour, has given me the knowledge and skills I needed to progress and turn with confidence.
I am now totally addicted to turning and my home is inundated with bowls and boxes of all shapes and sizes. I’ve even sold some.
I highly recommend this course to anyone with an interest in woodturning whether they are considering buying a lathe or are just starting out and need to know how to get that perfect finish. The tea and sandwiches were really excellent too!
Sarah Horvath, Ashford, Kent.

I have owned a lathe for five months and have bungled my way through while waiting for the course. If I had to write a specification for the ideal course for me, this course would have been it.
I have learnt a huge amount. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself. I feel encouraged to develop my skills further. I was especially impressed with Dave’s enthusiasm.
He must have done this course many times and it was all very basic but he was interested involved and enthusiastic. Thanks.
Gordon Young, Broadstairs.

Exceeded my expectations. I now understand the basics of turning, use of tools and sharpening and know something about the different wood types.
I also understand how the wood for turning is chosen and cut. Thanks for a great course.
Barrie Collins, Meopham.

I thoroughly enjoyed the course from beginning to end. Dave put me at ease with his casual but very knowledgeable style and made me feel confident that I could achieve all that he ‘boasted’.
The workshop facilities were excellent, well equipped and very warm.
I was very impressed and quite envious of the space available. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, a new simmering passion for woodturning has turned almost to an obsession.
Gary Constable, Oxford.

I am just bowled over with the two days I spent on the course.
I came with an open mind, not knowing what to expect and have come away with a good basic knowledge and the confidence in giving it a go. Thanks to Dave and the team (and Alfie) for a very enjoyable couple of days at Upper Farm.
Peter Collins, Epping, Essex.

What can we say? The whole group found it educational and helpful. We will all be fighting over the lathes at the college now!
Thank you for your encouragement and help and thank Janet for the lovely sandwiches. Julie Friday, Dover, Kent.

You run an excellent and tight ship, very understanding and tolerant, very good personal skills, clear and precise instructions, safety and presentation very good but above all, a great and enjoyable time to gain new skills and stop bad practice.
Colin Edwards, Eltham, London.

Excellent course providing plenty of skills to start me off on the right track.
Good teaching and broken up nicely with a bit of banter and humour.
Great facilities, great fun, great sandwiches!
Richard Larner, Chatham, Kent.

Having never turned wood before, we were amazed at the quality of the finished results we were able to achieve with a lot of guidance and a little help.
The course pace was about right and Dave certainly has an extensive knowledge of the subject and of wood.
David and Stephen Hirst, Bexley, Kent.

My expectations in coming on the course were exceeded.
I have a DIY lathe and have tackled a few projects successfully but I wanted to learn the correct way of cutting wood and sharpening the tools before I picked up too many bad habits. I am now busy making various jigs for my grinder and linisher to get my tools into acceptable shape before embarking on some more practice.
In time I am sure I can tackle more demanding projects with competence, confidence and safety, thanks for your help and tips!
John Greenhill-Jeffery, Herne Bay, Kent.

I have scratched and scraped lots of blanks for the past two years and after two days have learnt to turn properly. I am sure that with a lot of practice of my new skills I will turn good quality work and get more enjoyment.
Thank you, not only for the knowledge, but for the sense of humour. It made a very pleasant two days!
D Watson, Canterbury, Kent.

What a fantastic course! The workshop is perfect, being light, warm and well equipped. I was thinking of buying a lathe but was not 100% sure. The course was a great way to make the decision and now I can't wait to be up and running with my own equipment.
Even though I was the only person on the course without my own lathe, I didn't fell left out and the learning pace was comfortable.
There are skilled people, and there are those who have a gift for teaching.
Dave Bates is one of those rare individuals who are both.
Rob Pickering, Reading, Berks.

I enjoyed the course very much. It was well structured and the workshop facilities are excellent.
I would recommend this course to anyone who has bought a lathe and wants to get the best from it.
David Elliott, Sidcup, Kent.

I found the course had the right balance - the number of students, practical and theory. Plenty of tea and sandwiches, a nice touch.
Thanks to Dave's easy manner and content delivery I gained more insight into the 'mystery' of turning than I ever thought I would and took home a bowl that far exceeded my expectations.
A brilliant course and one I would recommend to anybody thinking of taking up this engaging craft.
Simon Mill, Dover, Kent.

What can I say? I am absolutely delighted with the knowledge and skills that I walked away with after attending your excellent two day course.
On reflection, I realised I was probably going to benefit from your course after only having been there for two hours. I was not disappointed.
I found that you had a natural way of communicating the course content without making me or any of the other student inadequate, a very important aspect for a complete beginner such as me. The workshop facilities are superb - very important
I believe when you are just getting to grips with a new hobby.
To sum it up, a very enjoyable course and money well spent.
Phil Taylor, Smeeth, Kent.

I had a great time. I started off never having used a lathe and was taken though all basics. The approach was clearly demonstrated and explained, the hands-on practical opportunities really set things into the memory.
Nothing was too much trouble for David – help and advice were always available.
I really learnt a lot on the course and the big bonus was actually making something that looked half decent. The surprise from family and friends was worth the course fee alone.
Adrian Wright, Dover, Kent.

A really enjoyable course. The pace is excellent, Dave’s explanations very clear and his demonstrations well presented.
His guiding hands during practical work are very helpful even though it probably gives you a false sense of your abilities.
Lovely setting, great workshops, very friendly.
Nick Baggott, Reading.

I am sending this email to compliment you on the beginners/refresher wood turning course. It was intense, full of very useful facts and information, and nothing was too much trouble.
Dave made the whole process very approachable and was patient with mistakes, questions and repeating information and techniques as often as needed! I came away feeling a fairly competent beginnner, able to start and complete a basic project on my own at home.
We were even given homework (in the form of exercises). A great couple of days!
Margaret Wallace, Gloucester.

Thank you for enabling me to be able start woodturning with knowledge and confidence and with safety.
Michael Whitney, Thiers Sur Theve, France.

Overall, a fantastic two days, good instruction in a friendly and hospitable atmosphere. A very well equipped workshop and the fun of turning with others of the same level of experience.
Thanks for your time and obvious enthusiasm for the subject.
Howard Guppy, Chelmsford , Essex.

I did enjoy the course. I’ve developed so much confidence that I can’t wait to start practising the knowledge gained during the course [which] is good value for money.
Adebowale Ajayi, London.

The course was excellent. From start to end, everything was explained very well. I will have no hesitation booking another course at a later date.
Derek Brightwell, Grays, Essex.

We are told that time passes quickly when you are enjoying yourself ! Thursday and Friday just rattle by for me and Saturday proved to be a let down as the course had finished and there was nowhere to go!
I cannot thank S&B enough, for their help and support in making the Beginner Refresher such and enjoyable and informative time.
To Dave I offer my special thanks for the superb instruction we were given and add a request: Please don’t change a thing as the course is so well balanced . . .
To Janet I also add my thanks for more than adequate sandwich lunches and to the rest of the staff – well someone has to prepare the blanks, hone the tools and prepare the workshops etc etc - what a great team you all are!
Bob Barrett, New Romney, Kent.

I felt immediately comfortable with the facilities and trainer. Very please with the products I achieved in only two days. Highly recommended.
R. Dumont, Dartford, Kent.

Before attending the beginners course, I made a point of reading two books on wood turning, one by Keith Rowley and another by Phil Irons. Halfway through the morning of the first day I realised that reading about woodturning was no substitute for a hands-on course.
Dave is a first class tutor, and in my opinion has the happy knack of telling how a project should be done then showing how it is done. He also goes to great lengths to show how to handle tools and the things you can do with them.
I would recommend anyone who is thinking about taking up woodturning as a hobby
to attend one of these courses.
Cecil Armstrong, Deal, Kent.

Excellent course, first class tutor, super workshops.
I gained some knowledge of woodturning, now to practice.
Maurice Gilbert, Ash, Kent.

I thoroughly enjoyed the course, the professionalism, the friendly, informal atmosphere – I very much look forward to returning.
The safety aspect has been imprinted into my brain! I look forward to trying out my new found skills.
Mr R Brooks, Tenterden, Kent.

It was a real privilege to have such an expert woodworker giving lessons for beginners. The instructor also has all the interpersonal skills and human qualities to make him an exceptionally good instructor.
The facilities could not be better in terms of modern, quality machines and the layout of the workshop. Thank you and your tem very much, including the lady who made the sandwiches.
John May, Ashford, Kent.

I had a brilliant time – as happy as a pig in shavings! To take home my ‘works of art’ at the end put the icing on the cake. Many thanks again.
Alison Andreassen, Rochester, Kent.

I feel that anyone like myself that had no previous experience in woodturning, this course is totally necessary, not only [for] the skills but from the health and safety aspect.
I really enjoyed the course as Dave, who enjoys his subject, went into depth about the make up of the wood, seasoning and the use and maintenance of tools. I will recommend this course to anyone that I hear is thinking of taking up woodturning.
Dave Milstead, Kingsdown, Kent.

I really enjoyed my 3 days at the lathe and would have so much liked a week. You have the right mix of fun and work.( I made my comments [on the day] I would like to say that I was the only one who would have liked more time at the lathe).
To get six people together with such different level[s] of skill to work together and have a laugh at our mistakes is not easy and goes to your credit for your skill and teaching ability. Many Thanks also to your wife Janet for feeding us all so well.
Terry Stower, Guildford, Surrey.

I learnt more in 3 days than I've learnt in the last 3 years working on my own.
Thanks very much.
John Keem, Canterbury, Kent.

I was very impressed that despite having to provide every bit of equipment multiplied by seven that no corners had been cut in providing everything necessary for the course. It was a real bonus to learn woodturning in surroundings that are so complimentary to a craft based skill.  As someone with a background in building,
I could see that the quality of restoration oozed from every detail.
Although it was obvious that S&B have taken Health & Safety very seriously,
I appreciated the fact that we were not molly coddled during the course.
Enjoyed the little tour of the yard and looking at the equipment and wood store.
Great sandwiches, thanks for a great course Dave.
Simon Burren, Westerham, Kent.

Thank you for an excellent course, not only with the skills and enthusiasm shared by Dave, but by the quiet and efficient backing given by the remainder of the staff - what a team!
J.B , Haywards Heath, West Sussex.

The course was an excellent introduction into wood turning and I would recommend it to anyone taking up wood turning.
As a foundation course, the tools and techniques covered will stand me in good stead for a project I was rather reticent in doing. However, I now have the confidence
to take it on.
George France, Aldershot, Hants.

I could not have wished for a more enjoyable 2 days. It was much better than I could have thought possible, we had fun, learned a lot ( I can now use a skew) and my wife was impressed by the two pieces I took home.
C. Dowsett, South Ockenden' Essex.

A well structured informative course which more than helped me to learn new (proper) techniques on spindle turning which was my main weakness.
Dave is an understanding, patient tutor and although we were fortunate (for us) in only being three on the course, I imaging Dave equally managing six turners with no problems.
Thanks to Janet for the excellent sandwiches - in the words of Arnie Schwarznegger, " I'll be back!"
Tim Roberts, Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich.

Totally absorbing and enjoyable. Not everyone has the ability to point out where you are going wrong without making you feel a complete berk.
Dave Bates has the ability and it makes all the difference. Many thanks, I had a great time!
David East, Folkestone, Kent.

A fantastic course in lovely settings! I was a little concerned at first when I realised that I was the only person who had a lathe already, but at no time was I made to fell that I should have known how to do anything already or my apparent lack of skill mentioned.
I have been using my lathe for eight months and now I feel I know what I should be doing and how I should be doing it. The course covered all aspects of the craft from the tree to the finished item. The extra knowledge really helped [me] to understand the way the wood behaves.
Dave Spitter, Greenhythe, Kent.

Brilliant, brilliant,brilliant.
I had some interest in wood turning before the course but now I can't wait to get some gear and continue practising what I have learnt.
Pat and Den were great, leaving us to get on with it but on hand if help was needed. . I would strongly recommend you to anyone who may have an interest.
Steve Church, Brighton, Sussex.

Excellent two days, we certainly got a lot for our money.
Alec Marriott, Dover, Kent.

I enjoyed every moment. Den and Pat were patient and very good all round.
Y P Smith, Faversham, Kent.

A very rewarding couple of days spent learning new skills. Enjoyable and informative. Wendy Lloyd, Granada, Spain.

The course was excellent - venue, workshop, attitude ie. friendliness of all involved, food, materials and yes, even the weather was superb.
Denis and Pat were perfect instructors, they gave everyone the level of attention they required; They were always ready to help and answer questions.
Their teaching manner was relaxed but professional and their skill at the lathe very, very good. Could not fault any aspect from booking to completing the course.
Thanks for a very enjoyable few days.
Kevyn Brooks, Maidstone, Kent.

Pat and Dennis are excellent woodturners and extremely willing and able to pas on their knowledge.
There was a definite structure to the course but it only became apparent at the end of the two days. Pat and Dennis are 'hands on' woodturners, not professionals [and] their one-to-one assistance was excellent... I thoroughly enjoyed the two day course, learned some new techniques, picked up some helpful tips and hopefully dropped some bad practices.
An excellent course in the presence of like minded people - very enjoyable.
WB, West Malling, Kent.

I thoroughly enjoyed the two days and was amazed by what I produced - I had really only taught myself some spindle work before, so to come home with a bowl and a goblet was fantastic and a kitchen roll holder as well!
The only improvement I could think of is I would find some course notes really useful as I cannot remember all the methods of chucking, tools etc. I'm sure it will come back to me, but it would have been great to have something to refer to.
Not too detailed :- how wood was held in a lathe (which chucks), sequence of turning, finishing and which tools. An aide memoire as it were.
Thanks for a really enjoyable of a couple of days, though I was shattered by then - too much concentration!
Mrs Hilary Gilmore, West Kingsdown, Kent.

A very informative and helpful, practical course.
A lot was achieved and the majority of the time was spent using the lathe and practicing techniques and skills.The workshop facilities were very good.
The instructors were very helpful, skilled and real experts. I would recommend the course to any turners. A thoroughly enjoyable day.
Roy Pickup, Canterbury, Kent.

Advice and tuition excellent. Friendly atmosphere. Thoroughly enjoyable day.
Lawrie Boston, Brentwood, Essex.

An excellent course, very friendly, good guidance and nice work produced at the end of the day.
R L Ashman, Ashford, Kent.
1 Day Hollow Vase and Hollow Form courses with Dave Bates.
We had an extremely full day and from my point (as an enthusiastic amateur) it was worth every minute.
I felt I had achieved a new understanding of vase forms and felt really proud of my (almost) finished project.
Dave has a great gift for teaching, combining excellent tutoring skills with a wonderful sense of humour and friendliness. The teaching workshops are second to none in the equipment, facilities and space.
Mike Hall, Whitfield, Kent.

A great day Dave. Don't worry feeling you gave us to much [to do] I would prefer that to the other way around.
The vase is drying out nicely and has sanded up a treat.
Chris Scott, Chislehurst, Kent.

I have never learnt so much in a day! From the warm welcome to the friendly goodbye, the whole day was perfect.
Roy Smart, New Romney, Kent.

A safe workshop with enthusiastic instruction but very relaxed atmosphere.
A brilliant day course which I would recommend to anyone who may have an interest.
P Scott. Chatham, Kent.
A Woodturning course report by Steve Grant

There must be thousands of would-be woodturners like me. My cheap lathe (well OK, it’s almost a lathe) was bought as a present some years ago, sans chuck but with a basic (as in awful) set of tools. The odd book, a few magazines, a couple of editions of the NYW and off I went, only to discover that this turning malarkey wasn’t as easy as it looks.

Though a keen and competent woodworker, the lathe was soon relegated to languishing in a corner, pressed into service only when a cylindrical part was needed for another project, or as the result of an occasional and ill-advised burst of enthusiasm. Everything I do involves the wood staying put and the tool on the move. In this woodturning lark, it's the other way round.

Centering the bloody timber is a problem. Finding the right speed is a problem. Sharpening the strangely shaped implements that turners call tools is a major problem. Getting a cut even approaching those you see made by an average turner at a country craft fair was seemingly impossible.

All the while – there’s something nagging in the back of your mind telling you that you really must get your head around wood turning. All those lovely pieces that could be made. All those off cuts and ‘scrap’ pieces that could be transformed into attractive object d’art. Those legs for that Windsor you’re going to make… some day.
The answer is a course, of course.

Beginner / refresher. That sounds about right. Three days on a farm in the Kent countryside under the tutelage of none other than Dave Bates.
That’s it then. Booked. Sorted.
The day arrives. Five others and I, all looking somewhat apprehensive and not quite knowing what we were in for, make small talk and discover that we’re all in the ‘beginner’ category. We’ve all got lathes and tools of various descriptions, but we’ve all had about as much success as hopeful kids at a seaside crane booth.

We look lovingly at the seven lathes in the teaching workshop. Record CL4’s with electronic speed control. Chisels and gouges from Robert Sorby and Hamlet. Piles of blanks. Smocks. Dust extraction. A wood burning stove throwing out a lovely even warmth (it was December!) Loads of wonderful pieces on the side. Bowls, spindles, goblets – all with an elegance and form worthy of a gallery – or so it seems to us.
In walks the enigmatic Bates. Big grins, introductions, and we all watch as he strolls purposefully towards his lathe, walks straight past it and puts the kettle on.
‘Right then. Who fancies a cuppa?’

I was later to learn that not only is Dave Bates a helluva turner – he’s a helluva teacher too. For him, the kettle is as important a tool as any in the workshop. He uses it to ‘pace’ the day. To pull things together and take time to explain things informally and often on a one to one. He works his students like a sheepdog works his flock. Doesn’t miss a trick, and never lets anyone stray too far. He’s got ears like a sheepdog too. He can hear what you’re doing – his lathes talk to him. They tell tales on we students.

‘Speed your lathe up a little Steve, and use the bevel. You’re not quite rubbing the bevel'. All this, and he’s at the other end of the workshop looking the other way.
We all settled in really quickly, because it became immediately apparent that Dave is nothing if not informal. No high falutin’ nonsense here. Lots of banter, lots of laughs. We’re here to learn, but we learn best if we enjoy ourselves at the same time, says Bates. If only they’d inscribe THAT above the portico of every teacher training college in the nation – we’d all be a lot better off, says I.

We start by learning how to cut the wood. Far from being a chore, the entire process comes alive as he explains how wood is structured and how we can use the structure to our advantage. Work with it, not against it. We make our first tentative cuts. Within half an hour, we are merrily making the best shavings we’ve ever made, six Cheshire cats marvelling at our new-found technique and beginning to believe we just might be able to turn wood after all.
Dave goes from lathe to lathe, from person to person, polishing our technique, getting us to move with the gouge, making sure we’re rubbing that there bevel – and the whole object of the exercise is to make shavings. Great long thick shavings. Fine, delicate ‘Angel hair’ shavings. Everything in between shavings. But shavings.

He encourages even the most inept of us (which was me) by pointing out what we’re doing right and getting us to build on it. ‘That’s it – you’re almost there. If you just do this…’

Then comes the point when we actually start a project.Writing this now, it’s hard to believe that he managed to get all six of us excited about making a kitchen roll holder. Effectively a small platter and a spindle that then has to be put together. We could hardly contain ourselves – and I’m NOT joking!

The reason is that Dave had explained the techniques we would be employing to make said kitchen roll holder. There’s a parallel spindle with a cove and a bead at the top, and a tenon at the bottom. There’s a platter with a rounded edge and a mortice in the middle. We’d be using the pointy bits and the chuck thing. We’d be using the gouges and the scrapers AND the parting tool. We’d be varying the speed of the lathe. This kitchen roll holder meant we’d be introduced to a whole range of techniques that we’d all be using later and for ever more. As I said. We were excited.

By the end of the first day, we all had our kitchen roll holders formed to varying degrees of shape and perfection, nicely finished and totally individual. They were our own, crafted by our hands and eyes, with a little help from a few boys in Sheffield, of course. By now, we were a crew. Mates. The banter was good, there was a real sense of camaraderie and shared experience. Most of us hadn’t been anywhere near a tutor/student scenario since we were kids, and to a man, we were enjoying it thoroughly. We were looking forward to the next day, when we were going to tackle a bowl… then a box.

By the end of the three days, every one of us felt we had learned an awful lot, and we had the evidence to prove it. We had a much better understanding of wood itself – Dave absolutely loves wood and infected us all with a similar affection. We all knew what to look for and what to avoid when buying not just blanks – but when buying timber. In three short days, we had learned how to turn wood to the point where it looked almost finished on the lathe. We felt far more confident about the tools, about what they were for and about how to use them. Dave had demystified sharpening and relegated it from the realms of the black arts to a quick and confident touch on the grindstone. We had been introduced to form and figure, to proportion and balance. We had learned to appreciate a ‘good shape’, and learned how to approach achieving it. To a man, we had thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and we all left brimming with inspiration and enthusiasm built on a solid understanding of the basics of what woodturning is all about.

All you’ve got to do is tip the water out, and follow the flute.

Nothin’ to it.

Note from S&B. We have since discontinued the 3 days courses because we were all shattered at the end of them!

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10thMay 2019
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