Women’s Basic Carpentry

April 2 - April 5, 2020

April 2-5 (FULL), April 16-19, June 18-21 (FULL), or July 16-19, 2020

Students only need to attend one of these sets of dates. Get on the waitlist toward the bottom of this page to hear about more 2020 class sessions as they open.

Why Women’s Carpentry?

Let’s face it: In this culture, it’s much more likely for men to be comfortable with tools and carpentry than women. But given the chance to learn, women can be just as proficient as men when it comes to manifesting their own creative building ideas. Since our bodies are different, and our backgrounds and learning styles are likely different, we need a female-oriented space, just for ourselves! 

This class is intended to respond to that need. It will get women (and other female-oriented people) up-to-speed on basic carpentry skills, including working with wood, planning and designing simple projects, and using hand and power tools safely and effectively.

This class is open to all women, including trans and femmes

Focus is placed on creating a safe, comfortable, relaxed and fun learning environment in which students with beginning to intermediate skill levels can thrive. Our goal is to help each student learn, rather than to progress projects at a fast pace. 

This is truly a basic carpentry class. It’s about learning to use tools and getting comfortable with them by working on small projects. No prior experience is required.

If you’re interested in bigger projects, especially structural building, we offer an Advanced Women’s Carpentry Class for graduates of the basic class. Anyone who has completed the basic carpentry class will be well prepared for the advanced class. Plus, when you sign up for this more advanced class at the same time as the basic class, you get a discount!

line drawing of fabulous woman carpenter

Ladies, prepare to tame those mythical beasts (power tools) and make them part of your building repertoire.


What to expect: Learn Basic Carpentry Skills

During this four-day course, we will cover basic carpentry skills through lectures, demonstrations, and lots of hands-on practice. 

Topics covered include:

  • Safe and effective tool use (including hand and power tools)
  • Choosing the right tools for different kinds of jobs
  • Accurate measuring and cutting
  • Small project design and planning
  • Lumber (wood) selection and purchasing
  • Implementation of your own project

This wealth of information will be specifically tailored for women’s learning styles and women’s bodies. There will be ample time to dialogue with instructors and get clear about the subject matter. We firmly believe that there are no “dumb questions.”


Class Schedule and Timing

Morning Session: 9:30am-12:30pm
Lunch:12:30pm-1:30pm*
Afternoon Session: 1:30-6pm**

*Saturday’s schedule is slightly different. Lunch is at 12pm, and the afternoon session begins at 1pm.

**Class ends by 4pm on Sunday, and students may leave whenever they finish their personal projects on this day. This can be as early as 1pm if they have time constraints and choose a very simple project.


Day 1: Tools, Tools, Tools

And women’s empowerment!

Our theme of day one is women’s empowerment. To begin, we’ll have an orientation and overview of the class. Then we’ll move into the bulk of the day: Tools! We’ll cover tool choices, their ergonomic use, and safety. Each tool will be introduced and demonstrated in detail, then you’ll get a chance to try it yourself (with plenty of guidance and support). Whether you’re building a birdhouse, bathroom shelves, a bike shed or a log cabin, having the right tools, and using them properly, makes all the difference. 

woman using a power drill to do carpentry and build bench

Tools we’ll cover on day one include:

  • Hammer
  • Impact driver
  • Drill
  • Circular saw
  • Table saw
  • Chop saw
  • Miter saw and sliding miter saw
  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Speed square
  • Framing square
  • Level
  • Chalk line

Day 2: Hands-On Carpentry Basics

Get proficient using tools, plus try your hand at design

On day two, we’ll work in small groups on simple, real-world projects. Some of these will be on Wild Abundance infrastructure, others may be for neighbors, community members, or local non-profits.

These projects vary, based on our infrastructure and community needs at the time of class.

However, they’re always something real; you won’t just be cutting and screwing scrap wood, you’ll be building something. We choose group projects so that students get an opportunity to practice the basic carpentry skills that are the foundation of this class. Some examples of past group projects are:

  • Siding on a building
  • Deck 
  • Picnic table
  • Children’s play structure
  • Fence
  • Rafters and purlins on a roof (only for students who feel at ease with heights)
  • Garden tool hanging structure
  • Shelves

During group project work, students will practice measuring, making cuts, using levels and speed squares, and fastening boards. Beyond the basic use of tools, we’ll also practice working together and getting our hands, minds, and bodies in the groove of doing serious carpentry. These projects are invaluable for getting the basics of carpentry deep into your bones. It’s one thing to learn about tools, it’s something quite different to get proficient with them, and that’s just what students will do during these group projects.

Your Personal Project

On day two, you’ll also choose and design your own small personal project (to be built on day four). Of course, you’ll get plenty of support and guidance from the instructors. In order to ensure every student’s success within a specific timeframe, we limit personal projects to a selection of simple objects. You can choose to build a bookshelf, spice shelf, birdhouse, planter boxes, stool, bench/shoe shelf, or a set of saw horses. Many of our students come from afar, and therefore choose to build a spice shelf or another small project that can easily be packed in luggage. If you’re excited about a simple, specialized project that’s not on this list, you may be able to do it, just check in with the instructors.


Day 3: More Practice and a Field Trip

Learn the language of lumber

On day three, we’ll head to the lumber yard to learn about wood and fasteners, plus pick out materials for everyone’s personal projects. While we’re there, we’ll explore lumber selection, including what kinds of wood are appropriate for different projects, and how to choose a straight board (surprise, not all boards are straight!). Additionally, we’ll check out multitudes of screws and other fasteners, learning how to choose what’s right for specific projects. Everyone will buy what they need for their personal projects, which we’ll tackle on day four. After we return from the lumber yard, we’ll spend the rest of the day continuing to get comfortable with tools and woodworking through our group projects.


Day 4: Your own Woodworking Project

Build your very own rough and simple masterpiece

On day four, everyone will get to complete a woodworking project of their very own (with lots of support, if they want it)! To do this, we’ll reference the designs we solidified on day two, and utilize the materials we gathered on day three.Throughout the process, instructors will circulate to answer questions, provide guidance, and avert disaster. Students will work semi-independently, making use of all the skills and confidence they’ve been building over the past three days. 

Note on Day 4 End Time:

On day 4, we’ll close up the woodshop at 4pm (earlier than days 1-3). Individuals will be done with the class when they complete their personal projects (any time between noon and 4pm). If you have time constraints, we advise you to choose a simple project like sawhorses or a small bookshelf.


Enjoy our beautiful outdoor woodshop near Asheville, NC

The Women’s Basic Carpentry class “woodshop” is the lovely Wild Abundance homestead campus. During the class, we set up several covered areas amidst our gardens and natural buildings. There, students can use tools and work on projects with views of the vegetables and mountains. As a result, many folks who come to learn carpentry also get excited about the other things we do here, like permaculture and gardening. Additionally, getting to learn and work in this simple, outdoor woodshop can be very inspiring; you don’t need a fancy, dedicated space in order to use tools and build beautiful things! Please note: class happens mostly outdoors (under cover), rain or shine, whatever the temperature.


You’re just a weekend woodworking class away from building your ideas into reality

You might be asking yourself, can I really learn to build on my own in a weekend woodworking class? And we’re here to tell you that, yes, it’s absolutely possible! In one long weekend you can get comfortable with tools, understand how to work with wood, and learn how to plan out and design your own simple carpentry projects. We’ve seen it happen time and again, with hundreds of satisfied students.

Of course, people spend lifetimes perfecting their woodworking skills, especially those who build houses or do fine finish work like cabinetry or furniture making. It’s not realistic to learn to do these high-level kinds of projects in a long weekend workshop. However, you can take the first steps that every carpenter and fine woodworker once took. And you’ll leave with the ability to turn your basic ideas into reality, right away. 


Frequently Asked Questions about Women’s Basic Carpentry

What tools will I learn how to use?

In this basic carpentry class you’ll learn how to properly and safely use the following tools:

  • Hammer
  • Circular saw
  • Table saw
  • Chop saw/miter saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Impact driver
  • Drill
  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Speed square and framing square
  • Chalk line
  • Level
  • Hand saw
I’ve used some hand tools before, I know how to drive a screw, cut a board, etc... will this class be too basic for me?

This is a basics class, but it also covers more advanced power tools, as well as the proper ways to measure and design. If you have some basic skills, but don’t feel totally confident in your technique or comfortable using bigger power tools, you’ll still get a lot out of this class. Consider combining the basic class with our Advanced Women’s Carpentry Class or Natural Building and Tiny House Workshop if you want to really strengthen your structural building skills. If you feel totally confident building small to medium projects on your own, this class may be too basic for you. 

We used to let women take our Advanced Women’s Carpentry Class without the basics class first, if they thought that they had enough experience. Time after time, we found that these women did not have the foundational safety and ergonomic tool-use skills that the graduates of the basics class did. As a result, our confidence in the power of the basics class has been boosted. It’s clear that in 4 days so much more can be taught in this concentrated class than one might learn in years on her own. Because of this, we are now strict about only letting graduates of the basics class into the Advanced Class.

Will we learn how to build structures/buildings in this class?

You’ll learn how to use most of the tools that are used in structural building, and some of the basic techniques, but this is not a structural building class. If you’re excited to build buildings, check out our Advanced Women’s Carpentry Class (in combination with the basics class) or Natural Building and Tiny House Workshop. The advanced women’s carpentry class can be bundled with the basic carpentry class for a discount.

I see that one of the instructors for this class is a man, will he “mansplain” to me? Is he patient and understanding?

Our male instructor, Barron Brown, is an incredibly patient person, an experienced and skilled carpenter, and an excellent teacher. He is the father of a daughter, whom he taught how to build, weld, and do many other “manly” skills. At this point, she runs entire house-builds for him. This is to say, he has total confidence in women’s abilities to learn carpentry and doesn’t hold prejudices about the skills or knowledge of beginners. 

We have never had a complaint about Barron’s teaching or demeanor. On the contrary, we’ve had many, many compliments about his teaching style, skills, knowledge, and ability to work gracefully with women.

Do I need to bring any tools or supplies to the class?

Yes! All the tools and materials we ask you to get a hold of for this class will continue to be useful afterwards as you practice and hone your carpentry skills. This does not mean that you have to spend hundreds of dollars on the tools required to take the class. If you just get the bare bones, you could spend $25. Or, you could choose to borrow tools from friends or family members. If you get all the required and optional tools, and choose the best brands of all of them, then you could be talking big bucks — and an awesome toolkit. Check out our list of both required and optional tools/supplies here.

Will I learn how to design my own projects, or just do projects that already have plans/designs?

You will get a chance to design your own simple woodworking project during the class, with lots of support. This includes envisioning your project in space, choosing the thickness and type of wood that’s appropriate, choosing fasteners, making measurements, determining board-feet needed, etc. 

If you prefer to work with a done-for-you design, that’s an option, too. In that case, you could choose a project design that is identical to the example projects presented during class. Doing this means all the math will be done for you.

Will I learn how to make furniture in this class? Will I be able to make furniture after taking this class?

Our most popular personal project over the years has always been a bookshelf. Students have also made benches, shoe shelves, and other simple, rustic furniture. You’ll gain the skills to design and build custom furniture in this class, but it won’t be fancy. This is not a fine woodworking class that covers super-tight joinery or wood finishing.

Is this a physically intensive class?

This class is accessible to students of moderate physical strength and energy. Part of the purpose of a women-only carpentry class is to teach in a way that makes carpentry accessible to people with different degrees of strength and physical prowess. We’ve had students from a wide range of ages and physical prowess thrive in the class. Throughout the days, there are lots of opportunities to drink water, eat snacks, and take breaks. It is worth considering that our campus is hilly and rustic, and not accessible to folks with certain disabilities. Read more about our campus here.

What’s the average age of students in this class?

We’ve had a wide range of students take this class. The average age of students has been around 45. That being said, our oldest student was 74 and our youngest student was a teenager. We usually get about 35% of students who are over 50, 40% between 35-50 and 25% under 35. The nature of this class is very inclusive and supportive, regardless of age or other differences that students might have. 


“This was the best workshop I have ever participated in. I am planning on taking more at Wild abundance. I have much more confidence and the skills I learned are invaluable to me, as I live alone and hate to depend on someone for simple carpentry needs.”

Dannie Piped
Women’s Basic Carpentry Student

 

“I’ve always been drawn to building and carpentry, but I’ve never had the basics explained to me in a coherent, hands-on way. The Women’s Basic Carpentry Course at Wild Abundance was the perfect incubator for my skills and confidence. The teachers were genuine, enthusiastic, and so willing to share their hard-earned knowledge and wisdom. One of the most valuable things I learned was how to be realistic with my plan—how to slow down on the front end and invest a bit more time into planning my projects so I can be more efficient and productive as I begin to build. I highly recommend this course.”

Jocelyn Mosser, Marshall, NC
Professional Counselor
Women’s Basic Carpentry Student

 

“Thanks to you I now have an impact driver and drill kit, a skill saw, speed and carpenter squares. I’ve finished my first project! This was immensely gratifying. My dad and husband helped me on the roof but I did the rest myself. I hope you’re well and I can’t thank you enough. I love my scooter shed!”

Annie Sellick, TN
Nashville Jazz Singer
Women’s Basic Carpentry Student

 

“I recently finished the Basic Carpentry Course at Wild Abundance and was blown away. I’m not sure exactly what I had expected, but my expectations were exceeded.

We were trained how to use all the tools safely and were coached as we tried. In the course we were taught exactly how to measure, mark, and cut with the appropriate tool.

I was surprised by the age spread of the participants. We had students from 14 to 70, and I enjoyed all the camaraderie. Everyone was willing to help others, so each person’s skill level just added to the learning process. The days were intense, but each person could work at her own pace.

The instructors were very hands-on and patient. Some students arrived concerned that they didn’t know as much as others, but no one left feeling intimidated. The students and teachers alike were encouraging and kind, and everyone finished the course feeling more confident and skilled. Overall, it was a great experience, and I recommend this course to anyone who wants to be more capable of handling projects and skilled at preparing for and executing them.”

Patty Rhodes, Greenville SC
CEO of manufacturing company
Women’s Basic Carpentry Student

 

“I took both the Basic & Advanced Women’s Carpentry workshops in the summer of 2019 and am so glad I did! I had spent some time going through the motions of buying my first home, and after lots of searching, it was clear that I’d either have to settle for something I didn’t even really like a whole lot or build it myself! And with that realization, I got a real bad itch to build my own home that all at once, became equal parts exciting and overwhelming. Basic carpentry seemed like the most logical place to start. 🙂 

I didn’t realize how much I was going to enjoy the fact that the workshops were just for women. I felt that it created a softer, more supportive, open, and uniquely empowering learning environment. Our instructors Natalie, Barron, and Ella were all incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. Their diverse experiences and styles only added to the wealth of information being shared and made for a very well-rounded learning experience. I felt the projects tackled were also diverse enough to serve different skill & comfort levels. (I was even given several opportunities to challenge a wee fear of heights. Bonus!) And overall, there was an incredibly refreshing and rewarding balance of hands-on instruction and space to figure it out on your own, which I believe is one of the best ways to learn. The campus is so beautiful, the food is especially delicious, and the learning is so good! I’m so excited to be one step closer to building my own home someday! Thank you!”

Sass Ayres, Asheville NC
Restaurant General Manager
Women’s Combined Carpentry Student

 

“I was really surprised and pleased at HOW MUCH I enjoyed this class. I expected it to be Darned Good and for me to learn a bunch. What I experienced was that it was really really well planned, well orchestrated, and I left having both had a fantastic time (loads of laughter) and feeling deeply empowered . The setting of just being with women freed me up to ask “stupid questions” and feel anything but stupid. Within a few moments of getting parked and starting class, Natalie handed us balanced and thoughtful schedule, which I really need to feel relaxed (to know when I can rest and settle in and the like). The meals were nourishing and beautiful. The facility was inspiring and well-kept. And perhaps best of all, the teachers were patient, skilled and supportive. I loved it so much that I would do it again in a heartbeat, both to brush up on my skills and solidify them more deeply, as well as to enjoy the beautiful space and camaraderie.”

Karen
Women’s Basic Carpentry Student


Instructors

Natalie Bogwalker doing carpentry

Natalie Bogwalker

Natalie is the visionary behind Wild Abundance, as well as a primary instructor for women’s carpentry classes and the Natural Building and Tiny House Workshop, among other classes. She’s passionate about teaching and sharing practical skills to help all kinds of people feel more confident, empowered, and capable. In particular, Natalie gets excited about: natural, ...

Barron Brown

Barron is a truly amazing jack-of-all-trades. He learned timber framing, post-and-beam construction, log cabin construction, and much more from his grandparents when he was a child and teenager. He currently works as a sculptor, welder and builder, as well as teaching carving, blacksmithing, and building. Barron is a joy to learn from, as he weaves ...

Ella Scotto

Ella took a carpentry class with Wild Abundance in 2017. After that, she bought an acre of land in Barnardsville, NC, and began building a house. For over a year, she worked with Barron Brown, learning everything she could about carpentry and construction. Ella is always eager to learn more, and is constantly honing her carpentry ...

Our Campus is Unconventional

aerial view of Wild Abundance permaculture homestead campus
To read about our facilities, including accessibility for alter-abled people, read about our Campus here.


Local Accommodations

Wherever you’re coming from, you’re welcome to pitch a tent in one of our flat camping spots in the woods or field, or to tie a hammock in the forest on our seven-acre property. If you live locally, you may prefer to commute to Wild Abundance from Asheville (25 minute drive). If you choose to camp, please bring your own bedding and rainproof tent or tarp. In the early spring and late fall it can be cold at night, so please bring warm bedding if you’ll be here before May or after September. We have a lovely outdoor kitchen equipped with a stove and running water, an outdoor shower, and an outhouse available to campers.  In extremely cold weather, the sink and shower may be out of operation due to water freezing.

If you prefer something with more creature comforts, we suggest you browse Airbnb for numerous options close to the campus. You can also check out local motels and B&Bs within a 10-15 minute drive to Wild Abundance. We’ll send a list of links to several options (with varying amenities and prices) in a welcome letter upon registration.


Registration Info

We strive to make our classes accessible to those who wish to learn. Please pay on the sliding scale what you can afford, given your income. All women’s carpentry classes include lunches.

April 2-5 (FULL), April 16-19, June 18-21 (FULL), or July 16-19, 2020

Pricing for Women’s Basic Carpentry

Early-Early Bird Pricing: January 1 – January 9, 2020: $600 – $900
Early Bird Pricing: January 10 – March 26, 2020: $650 – $950
Regular Pricing: March 27 – July 15, 2020: $700 – $1,000

Pricing for Women’s Carpentry Package

Includes Basic and Advanced Women’s Carpentry

Please note that our Advanced Women’s Carpentry Class is only available to those who have already taken the Women’s Basic Carpentry Class. We will be running an Advanced Carpentry class session on July 23-26, 2020.

Early-Early Bird Pricing: January 1 – January 9, 2020: $1,100 – $1,700
Early Bird Pricing: January 10 – March 26, 2020: $1,200 – $1,800
Regular Pricing:  March 27 – July 15, 2020: $1,300 – $1,900

The following are included in the price of the course: instruction, optional camping, and facility use (kitchen, outhouse). The Women’s Carpentry classes and Natural Building and Tiny House Workshop include lunches. The Permaculture Design Course has a meal plan option. 

To register, please complete the online registration by clicking on the “Register Now” button and then make your payment. Registration will be processed upon receipt of payment.

Expect to receive a confirmation email within one week of sending payment. Additional emails will cover logistical details as the date approaches.

Click here to see our policy on refunds, payment plans and work-trade opportunities.

Also, feel free to read our Frequently Asked Questions.