Conover Workshops: Woodworking Classes

2015 Woodworking Classes

Private Instruction is available at times we are not running scheduled classes.

Private instruction allows you exactly the training you desire at a time convenient for you. For more information go to our Private Instruction Page.




Spindle Turning Primer

Get a head start on your Shaker Rocker

Instructors: Ernie Conover & Patrick Brown Prerequisites: None (DVD:Disk I & Disk II Recommended) Max Enrollment: 5– Limited to Shaker Rocker Students Only Price: $100 (includes all instruction time, materials & lunch) Date Offered: (Sunday) July 19, 2015


Shaker Chair made by Ernie Conover This one-day class is intended for chair makers with minimal turning experience. It gives you a chance to get your tools sharpened correctly and get a good many spindles turned for the coming week of Shaker Rocker workshop. Highly recommended. Tool list available at time of registration or may be viewed on our web site. No prerequisites. This class is limited to Shaker Chair Students. Tool list for this class is the same as the Shaker Rocker Tool List.

Enroll in Spindle Turning Primer Now!




Shaker Rocker

Go away with an exquisite rocker and the knowledge to build any chair.

Instructors: Ernie Conover & Patrick Brown Prerequisites: Spindle Turning Primer or equivalent experience (DVD:Disk I & Disk II Recommended) Max Enrollment: 5 Price: $775 (includes all instruction time, materials & lunch) Date Offered: (Monday-Friday) July 20 to 24, 2015


Shaker Rocker by Ernie ConoverShaker chairs have long been known for their style and beauty. Although most woodworkers are intimidated by chairs, they are actually quite easy to build. What is more, making them is fun and profitable. In this five day class you will turn all of the parts for a classic Shaker rocking chair, steam bend the back posts and slats, bandsaw and route the arms and rockers and assemble all of the parts. You leave with an elegant chair and the ability to make more. In the process you learn production spindle turning, steam bending and how to build all of the jigs necessary to make a chair.

On day one you will be introduced to basic spindle turning by turning the 11 stretchers for this classic Shaker chair. Then, with the aid of the steady rest we will tackle the 42” long back posts for the chair, steam bending them once they are off the lathe. While each participant takes his or her turn at the bending forms, the rest of the class will craft the arms and rockers. The remainder of the time will be taken up with assembling the chair. No previous experience is necessary but it is suggested to attend Spindle Turning Primer the day before the class if you have not taken Turning for Furniture Makers or Mastring Spindle Turning in Five Days. A complete set of turning tools is available for rent at a fee of $45 per course. If you are taking the Spindle Primer course on Sunday the rental fee covers the week so do not check the box twice.

View Tool List for this course.

Enroll in Shaker Rocker Now!

Mushroom Cap by Ernie Conover










Basic Bowl Turning

Learn Face Plate Turning and come away with some nice bowls.

Instructor: Ernie Conover Prerequisites: None. (DVD: Disk I & Disk II Recommended) Max Enrollment: 5 Price: $385 (includes all instruction time, materials & lunch) Date Offered: (Saturday & Sunday) August 1 & 2, 2015


Bowls by Ernie Conover In this two day course you learn the fundamentals of face plate turning through the turning of some green wood bowls and a dry wood platter . The course will explore lathes, tools, techniques and wood. Starting off with an explanation of wood technology and how to select the proper wood for bowls the group goes on to properly sharpen all of the face plate tools. You leave with the knowledge and ability to keep these tools sharp for this is the biggest stumbling block to face plate proficiency. In the process of learning technique you will turn a few open form bowls from nice hardwoods such as cherry and maple. View Tool List for Basic Bowl Turning.

Skills learned

  • Wood technology and the selection of proper wood
  • Safe and proper chucking with both simple home made and commercial chucks
  • Proper sharpening of all face plate tools
  • Home made scrapers that out perform expensive commercial models.
  • Proper turning techniques that yield fast and pleasing results
  • Safety
  • Proper sanding techniques

Enroll in Basic Bowl Turning Now!


Hand Cutting Dovetails

The Epitome of Craftsmanship

Instructor: Ernie Conover Prerequisites: None. (DVD: Disk I & Disk II Recommended) Max Enrollment: 8 Price: $195 (includes all instruction time, materials & lunch) Date Offered: (Sunday) August 9, 2015




Ernie Conover Hand Cutting DovetailHand cut dovetails are considered the epitome of craftsmanship because they can take forms and spacing impossible with a router. Many fear tackling dovetails, but they are really fun (even relaxing) to cut. After taking this one day class, the ease at which you will be able to layout and cut dovetails will amaze you.

In this hands-on one -day workshop, Ernie Conover will lead you through the pitfalls and details in hand cutting through and half-blind dovetails. This will allow you to make carcasses, drawers and jewelry boxes that invite close inspection. Ernie believes that layout and technique are the keys to speed and efficiency and gives you fool proof methods for both.

View Tool List for this Class

Enroll in Hand Cutting Dovetails Now!

Handtool Joinery

The equivalent of an European apprenticeship in one week.

Instructor: Ernie Conover Prerequisites: Handplane Basics and Hand Cut Dovetails or equivalent experience (DVD:Disk I Recommended) Max Enrollment: 5 Price: $795 (includes all instruction time, materials & lunch) Date Offered: (Monday-Friday) August 10 - 14, 2015



In this course you will learn authentic joinery from the time when furniture was built to last. The good news is that this joinery is just as applicable today as it was in the 18th century. In Handtool Joinery Wall Cupbordparticipants receive a thorough grounding in hand tools by making a small cupboard out of sassafras (measuring 12” wide x 31” high x 6” deep). Sassafras is a beautiful wood that is easy to plane and chisel and smells heavenly in the working. The cupboard has one drawer below the panel door. In the building process you will learn to hand cut dovetails, mortise and tenons, grooves and dadoes.

The proper use of hand planes will be demystified and these indispensable tools will be stalwart old friends by the time you leave for home. Carcass construction (the main body and drawer) is taught employing two types of dovetail joints, through and half-blind. Mortise and tenon joints will be employed in the face frame and haunched tenons in the panel door. The two shelves for the cabinet are adjustable via a time honored, all wood set of notched racks.

These construction details will give you complete familiarity and confidence in the back saw, bevel chisels and mortise chisels. This foundation course is a must for any aspiring woodworker. No prior experience is necessary but it is strongly recommended that participants view the Bench Planes DVD and attend the Hand Cutting Dovetails seminar offered the Sunday prior to the course.

View Tool List for this class

Enroll in Handtool Joinery Now!





Fundamentals of Spindle Turning

Nothing dresses up a piece of furniture like a turning or two

Instructor: Ernie Conover Prerequisites: None; however, Sharpening DVD-I & DVD-II are suggested Max Enrollment: 5 Price: $390 (includes all instruction time, materials & lunch) Date Offered: (Saturday & Sunday) September 19 & 20, 2015


Turnings by Ernie Conover This is a hands-on course which emphasizes turning furniture parts with speed and confidence. You will actually turn a variety of common furniture parts under the tutelage of Ernie Conover, who is author of the book and companion video entitled Turning for Furniture. The course will begin with a primer on spindle turning with special attention on how to duplicate parts quickly and easily. You will learn furniture turning skills by actually turning two different chair stretchers, some Windsor chair legs (dry and green), table legs and grain matching knobs that will really set your furniture off from the pack. Ernie gives frequent demonstrations of advanced techniques such as converging axis cabriole legs, hollow forms and chatter work. Mixed with all this will be a plethora of tricks, such as how to make form scrapers, how to use both a commercial and home made steady rest for long turning, power and hand sanding techniques, how to finish in the lathe and a host of nifty chucks. A complete set of turning tools is available for rent at a fee of $45.

View Tool List for this class course.

Enroll in Fundamentals of Spindle Turning Now!




Hollow Forms and Lidded Boxes

A two day course to expand your turning skills 
into these intriguing and fun areas.

Instructor: Ernie Conover Prerequisites: None; however, Sharpening DVD-I & DVD-II are suggested Max Enrollment: 5 Price: $385 (includes all instruction time, materials & lunch) Date Offered: (Saturday & Sunday) October 3 & 4, 2015


Boxes by Ernie ConoverEvery turner with some turning proficiency, particularly in bowls, has ogled the many extraordinary closed forms and lidded boxes that are pictured regularly in woodturning magazines. Have you asked yourself, ‘how difficult are they? Could I actually learn to do some of these techniques?” If you have, we have the course for you!

Indeed, these techniques are not essentially more difficult than any other area of woodturning, just different. They do require a few specialized tools and learning to do some interior work "blind" by feel and touch. However, all are within everyone's ability. In fact, with a bit of practice lovely and striking pieces can be made. No lasers or expensive hollow form guides are required or used in this course. It emphasizes simple procedures and home made tools that get results.

Likewise boxes are as much proper procedure as skill. Boxes delight young and old alike and are perfect for storing treasures—be they a set of diamond earrings or a child’s Cracker Jack’s Surprise. You will have a chance to turn a wide variety of boxes and learn how to make boxes in such forms that conceal their purpose such as acorns and balls.

If you have a special piece of wood you were saving for something like this bring it along. It will be your "graduation exercise". View Tool List for Hollow Forms and Boxes.

The following are some of the techniques you will learn and projects that you will finish to take home with you:

Hollow forms:

  • Appropriate wood selection for closed forms.
  • Design considerations.
  • Where standard lathe tools start to fail and special tools take over.
  • Chucking .
  • Making your own basic hollow forming tools.
  • Decorating and texturing hollow forms.

Lidded Boxes:

  • Wood selection.
  • Design considerations.
  • Chucking considerations.
  • Basic rules or ABC's of box turning.
  • Chatter work, inlays and carving.
  • Your own box hollowing scrapers. (Bring a couple of 1/2" square nose scrapers to modify or just some old files for the same!)
  • Specialized box tools: The ring tool, the hook tool, the Berger box tool, very thin cutoff tool, etc. Gain some experience with ours and find out how much do you need them?

You will turn several hollow forms and boxes in the course of the weekend and go home with the confidence to make more.

Enroll in Hollow Forms and Boxes Now!

Woodturning Tools & Techniques

Two days of spindle and three days of bowl turning.

Instructor: Ernie Conover Prerequisites: None. (DVD: Disk I & Disk II Recommended) Max Enrollment: 5 Price: $795 (includes all instruction time, materials & lunch) Date Offered: (Monday-Friday) October 12-16, 2015




Woodturning Tools & Techniques This course represents the best value for anyone wanting to learn to turn, or simply turn better. No prior turning experience is necessary and the leisurely five day format allows you to build sound techniques through constant coaching.

You will take home some useful objects to include bowls, salad tongues, a tray, a rolling pin and various furniture components. Most importantly you will take away the knowledge to produce most any turning.


Things covered in Woodturning Tools & Techniques are:

  • Lathe operation, selection and tuning.
  • Sharpening and conditioning of all your turning tools.
  • Spindle tuning of common objects ranging from knobs to table and chair legs.
  • Wood selection, preparation and the use of green wood to turn bowls.
  • Turning of bowls from green and seasoned wood.
  • Faceplate turning of flat surfaces such as tea tables through the making of a serving tray.
  • Chucking methods from shop built to commercial chucks

You do a lot of turning in this week, always under the watchful eyes of Ernie and his assistant. You have time to really practice newly learned skills thereby having them become habit. You leave with some nice projects to wow the folks at home, but most importantly you will be able to tackle furniture parts and to turn bowls that will please all. View Tool List for Woodturning Tools & Techniques.

If you do not own tools we have several rental sets which can be reserved during the enrollment process.

Enroll in Woodturning Tools & Techniques Now!


Barley-Twist Candlesticks

Help Ernie Celebrate His 70th Birthday By Making a Set of Unique Lathe Turned Object

Instructor: Ernie Conover Prerequisites: None; however some turning experience recommended Max Enrollment: 5 Price: $425 (includes all instruction time, materials & lunch) Date Offered: (Saturday & Sunday) October 24 & 25, 2015


Barley-Twist Candlesticks by Ernie Conover

Barley Twist Candlestick by Ernie Conover

Ernie will turn 70 on the weekend of October 24-25 and he would love for you to join him in creating a set of very unique lathe made objects—barley-twist candlesticks. Dating from the 1600’s, the making of these candlesticks was the subject of his January/February 2007 Fine Woodworking Article and a parallel presentation he gave to the 18th Century Furniture Conference at Colonial Williamsburg at that time.

While some woodworking and woodturning experience is necessary you do not have to be an ace turner. All of the turning is simple and can be scraped. The carving is pure handwork; the lathe is simply an expensive vice to hold and manipulate the work. You end up with a set of candlesticks that will make for lots of dinner conversations from non-woodworkers and the ability to make more. Come and join Ernie for this unique class. Making a set of candlesticks the way it was done three hundred years ago will roll back the clock on your woodworking technique…but not on Ernie!

Carving by Ernie Conover

View Tool List for Barley Twist Candlesticks

Enroll in Barley-Twist Candlesticks!