Traditional woodworking doesn’t just belong in a museum anymore. Recently, folk woodworking has experienced a resurgence in popularity across the United States. Artisans are ditching power tools and modern laminates for hand saws and chisels.
The John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina is no stranger to traditional woodworking. The school became the first folk school in the United States when it was founded in 1925. The school currently offers 29 different woodworking classes, including basic woodworking and luthier training. Tucked away in the country, students learn how to make traditional pieces like twig rocking chairs and Shaker-style pantry boxes. The school also offers multiple woodturning classes that provide instruction in using hand lathes and bowl gouges to craft everything from conventional stools to bark-edge bowls. Woodcarving courses are available for pupils who want to add additional woodworking skills to their arsenal.
Traditional woodworking is booming in the state of Wisconsin. Inspired by the example of the John C. Campbell Folk School, similar institutions are popping up all over the state. Shake Rag Alley in Mineral Point, Wisconsin opened its doors in 2004. The non-profit arts center is dedicated to preserving the traditions of the past. It boasts courses on building rustic furniture and traditional wooden handicrafts. 60 miles up the road, artisans at the Driftless Folk School in LaFarge teach their pupils how to carve spoons and fashion knife handles out of wood. Budding woodworkers can also visit the Clearing Folk School on Wisconsin’s Door Peninsula. The 82-year-old school gives classes in wordworking and woodcarving.