Somerset Greenwood Chair

Tom Kealy
July 27 - August 7

Participants learn the full process of making greenwood chairs straight from the tree with traditional tools and techniques. The project is a variation of Tom’s beautiful Somerset Chair, which combines an oak frame with a seat and back durably woven from coppiced willow. With the benefit of Tom’s practical demonstrations and guidance, plus a little sweat equity, every student builds their own version of the chair.

The skills for making the oak frame are widely applicable to all styles of greenwood chairs. They include

    • Splitting wood from logs with froes and mallets, axes, and wedges to follow grain orientation;
    • Using the properties of green, unseasoned wood to advantage;
    • Rough-shaping components with axes;
    • Steam bending to curve the back legs;
    • Finish-shaping and sizing with drawknives, spokeshaves, and shaving horses;
    • Making tight mortise-and-tenon joinery with drills and cutters; and
    • Sharpening and safe use of all the above hand tools.

This is also a rare opportunity to learn the time-honored, but fast-disappearing craft of willow weaving. Willow is a highly renewable resource, being cut annually from new growth on established roots. Students learn how to prepare and weave the willow using secateurs, bodkins, beaters, and knives. 

Tom Kealy designs and makes both greenwood and contemporary furniture on commission from his workshop in Somerset, England. He graduated from Parnham College in 1979 and worked as senior craftsman in the John Makepeace workshops for over ten years. Tom teaches at West Dean College in Sussex and at the Building Crafts College in London, and offers weekly classes at his own workshop. He also teaches frequently at CFC and was one our 2019 Visiting Artists. Tom’s website is


Open to all.


Tuition: $1,460

Hansuld RockerSomerset Chair by Tom Kealy, oak and white willow (18"x18"x39")