Get deep satisfaction from learning carpentry in a camp-like environment

A student shows off their final project from basic carpentry class at Wild Abundance

In a culture that’s zooming toward virtual reality and digitizing the day-to-day, not everyone grows up learning how to use tools and work with their hands. This carpentry and woodworking class is here to change that. Surrounded by nature in our beautiful, sheltered, outdoor classroom, it’s perfect for beginners and folks who have used tools, but don’t feel totally comfortable with them yet. Our classes are set up to foster community, and during your time here, whether you camp onsite or stay in a hotel or airbnb, you may experience the sweet nostalgia of summer camp as you make new friends and learn useful skills.

A male student uses a mitre saw to practice making cuts in wood boards during an all genders basic woodworking class

Learning carpentry can be rewarding and satisfying whether you want to build for yourself, feel confident fixing things around the house, or interacting with folks you hire in a confident way. Studies have shown that working with our hands actually increases “happy hormones” in our brains like serotonin. This class is here to welcome everyone to the world of carpentry and a more hands-on lifestyle.

We also offer Women’s Basic Carpentry Classes for women and non-binary folks who feel more comfortable in that gender dynamic. 

This Asheville woodworking class is for both total beginners and those with a little bit of experience

Two young female students smile while learning carpentry skills at a class at Wild Abundance

You’ll learn to use tools and grow confident with them by working on various projects. You don’t need any experience to join this class. However, if you’ve used the table saw, chop saw, circular saw, and hand tools, but don’t feel like you have a mastery over them, this is also the woodshop class for you.

If you’re interested in bigger projects and structural building, we offer a Women’s Advanced Carpentry Class for graduates of the basic class, and a longer Tiny House Workshop. After you’ve completed the carpentry and woodworking class for beginners, you are qualified for the advanced classes.

We set the stage by creating a comfortable, relaxed, and fun environment. No pressure to “get things done,” instead we focus on learning.

What to Expect: A Four Day Carpentry Camp for Adults

A male carpentry student learning to use a table saw in an outdoor setting

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

Topics covered in this woodworking class include:

  • Learning which tool should be used for which purpose
  • How to measure and cut accurately
  • How to use power saws and hand tools safely and effectively
  • Hand tool techniques and safety
  • The basics of wood, it’s strengths, weaknesses, and how to choose the right board
  • Designing and creating your own project to take home

This wealth of information will be shared in a way that meets everyone where they’re at and welcomes engagement. We firmly believe that there are no “dumb questions.”

Class Schedule and Timing

A diverse group of students young and old, male and female take turns practicing sawing wood in a woodworking class

9:00am – 5 or 5:30pm* with an hour for lunch each day.

Please note: Some classes will have slight changes in the schedule due to weather, the needs of the projects, and the desires of the group.

* Class ends by 4:30pm on the last day, and students may leave whenever they finish their personal projects on this day. This can be as early as 3:00pm if they have time constraints and choose a very simple project. During our lunch break on Sunday we hold a closing circle, which we encourage everyone to stay for, if they’re able.

Day 1: Get a handle on woodworking and carpentry tools

To begin, we’ll have an orientation and overview of the wood shop and class flow and details. Then, we’ll move into tools. We’ll address which tools to use when, safety, and ergonomic use. You will get a chance to see each tool demonstrated, and then you’ll practice using it yourself, with lots of guidance and support, of course! In order to promote a sense of safety and mastery, when we get into the circular saw, table saw, and sliding mitre saw (the more intimidating tools), we break the class into three groups, to make sure everyone gets the focus that they need. 

Tools we’ll cover on day one include:

  • Safety equipment
  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Utility Knife
  • Speed square
  • Table saw
  • Miter saw and sliding miter saw
  • Circular saw
  • Chop saw
A male student makes cuts with a circular saw during a carpentry camp at Wild Abundance

Day 2: Design of projects, other tools and a field trip

Plan out your personal project, explore more tools, and learn to navigate a lumber yard

On day two, we’ll get our hands on more tools, learning safe and proper use of drills, drivers, drill bits for making holes in wood and driver bits for driving screws into wood. 

Your Personal Woodworking Project

On the second day of this woodworking class for beginners, you’ll also choose and design your own small personal project (to be built on day four). To do this, 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 tool caddy, small shelf, or a birdhouse.

After lunch, we’ll leave the woodshop and head to the lumber yard to pick out materials for everyone’s personal projects. While we’re there, we’ll explore lumber selection and how to choose a straight board (surprise, not all boards are straight!). Before the field trip, we’ll discuss what kinds of woods are appropriate for your projects, and go over what types of screws or other  fasteners you’ll need. Equipped with this knowledge, everyone will buy what they need for their personal projects, which we’ll actually build on day four.

Woman carrying lumber for her carpentry project at Wild Abundance's all genders intensive woodworking class for beginners

Day 3: Final Tools and Group Project

We’ll have our last tool class, covering:. 

  • Chalk lines
  • Levels
  • Hand saws
  • Hammers

After lunch, we will transition to group projects. The point is not to get things done quickly, but rather to focus on gaining muscle memory and mastery of tools that have been covered already in the class. 

An array of tools lay on a workshop table at the outdoor carpentry classroom

No matter what the specific projects are, they’re always something real; you won’t just be cutting and screwing scrap wood; you’ll be contributing to actually building something. We choose group projects in the woodworking class for beginners so that students get an opportunity to practice the skills that are the foundation of this class. The work done will be on a campus building or a building or structure that will be sold for the cost of materials to students or other community members.

Here are some examples of what we’ve worked on in the past:

  • Putting diagonal sheathing or siding on a shed or other building
  • Building a picnic table
  • Working on a deck
  • Building a fence
  • Building shelves
  • Building a bridge over a small creek

Male student practicing carpentry skills for building and construction with a simple group project

Day 4: Your Own Woodworking Project

On day two you made a cut list and a materials list, and you purchased the boards for your personal project. Day four is when you will use your design to cut your boards, assemble your creation, and fasten its pieces together. Instructors will be guiding you through the process. You’ll get support to help you complete your project and learn while doing. We try to equip our students with the skills and confidence to be able to design and create projects on your own, once you leave class. 

Note on Day 4 End Time of this Woodshop Class:

We’ll close up the wood shop at 4:30pm (earlier than days 1-3). Individuals will be done with the class when they complete their personal projects (usually between 3:30 and 4:30). If you have time constraints, we advise you to choose a simple project like a small shelf.

A young woman works on a carpentry project with a speed square and carpenter's pencil in an outdoor workshop

Enjoy our beautiful outdoor woodworking classroom near Asheville, NC

Our woodshop for this class is the lovely Wild Abundance homestead campus at Paint Fork Road. During the class, we work in several covered areas amidst mountain views and native plants. There, students can use tools and work on projects with fresh air and a gorgeous backdrop. 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 wood shop can be very inspiring. Please note: class happens mostly outdoors (under cover), rain or shine, whatever the temperature.

Two women students enjoying the open air wood shop classroom as they build their carpentry projects on the final day of the wild abundance workshop

Build your ideas into reality in this woodworking class for beginners

You might be asking yourself, can I really learn carpentry in a weekend woodworking class for beginners? And we’re here to tell you that, yes, it’s absolutely possible! In one long weekend, you can understand how to work with wood, get comfortable with tools, 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. 

A Black woman smiles holding the birdhouse she built as a final project in the basic carpentry class

Frequently Asked Questions about the Basic Carpentry and Woodworking Class

Which tools will I be learning to use?

In this woodworking class for beginners, you’ll learn how to properly and safely use the following tools:

  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Speed square
  • Chalk line
  • Utility knife
  • Table saw
  • Chop saw/miter saw
  • Circular saw
  • Impact driver
  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Level
  • Hand saw
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 Tiny House Workshop

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. If you feel totally confident building small to medium projects on your own, this class may be too basic for you. Consider combining the basic class with our All Genders Advanced Carpentry Class, or Tiny House Workshop if you want to really strengthen your structural building skills. 

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

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

You will have three options of projects to choose from, a birdhouse, a simple shelf, and a tool caddy. You will have the opportunity to determine the dimensions, add artful details, etc. In the process of personalizing your design, you will learn the skills for reverse engineering an object that already exists, creating a cut list and plan to recreate it,  and the process of picturing a project in your head and creating a cut list based on that.

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.

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 and woodworking skills. This does not mean that you have to spend hundreds of dollars on the tools required to take the class. You could spend only $30-40 if you just get the bare bones. 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.
Why not a woodshop class near me?
Most community colleges offer a basic woodshop class, and some of them are awesome. What makes this class unique is that it is intensive; you will likely leave this four-day experience different than when you came. We have taught well over 50 basic carpentry classes, and our staff and teachers are obsessed with continuous improvement. We take feedback and make changes, resulting in the best possible class that we can offer. These are reasons, along with the community experience and the beautiful outdoor classroom, why traveling to Wild Abundance may be the right choice for you.
Will I learn how to make furniture in this class? Will I be able to make furniture after taking this class?
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. However, we do address project design, including how to look at an object and reverse engineer it into its pieces, so that you can copy things that you like the look of. We also show you how to make variations to make things customized to be more wonderful just for you. Additionally, you’ll learn how to take a concept in your head and design it and then build it.
Is this a physically intensive class?
This class is accessible to students with at least a moderate level of physical strength and energy. Part of the purpose of a woodworking class for beginners is that people of different physical abilities are welcomed and accommodated. Throughout the days, there are opportunities to drink water, eat snacks, and take breaks. We’ve had students from a wide range of ages and physical abilities thrive in the class. It is worth considering that our campuses are hilly and rustic, there is a lot of walking on uneven ground, and the woodshop is not accessible to folks with certain disabilities. Read more about our campuses here.
What’s the average age of students in this class?

The nature of this class is very inclusive and supportive, regardless of age or other differences that students might have. 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.


Instructors

Nadi

Nadi Mond

Nadi (they/them) has been on a quest to study traditional woodworking, metalworking and ancestral skills ever since leaving behind their Aerospace Engineering path in Germany where they grew up. While attending University in Germany they turned an old early 1900s circus trailer into their first tiny home they lived in for the duration of their ...

Alex Kilgore

Alex (he/him) has been learning and teaching primitive and traditional living skills since 1995. He began with a formative apprenticeship with Steve Watts, the founder of the Society of Primitive Technology and director of the Aboriginal Studies Program at the Schiele Museum of Natural History.  In 1997, Alex completed his degree in Outdoor Experiential Education ...

This class is held near Asheville, NC, at the Wild Abundance Paint Fork Campus

Our Paint Fork campus is a bustling creekside landscape with gorgeous mountain views, a breathtaking timber-framed pavilion classroom, and spacious covered open-air wood shops for learning building and carpentry in all weather, plus other lovely features. The Paint Fork campus is 30 minutes north of Asheville.

Please note: our campuses are all unconventional, with rustic amenities and uneven ground. Read more about Planning your trip and about our campuses. You’ll receive detailed directions on how to get here upon registration. 

Accommodations and Facilities

You’ve got several options of where to stay during your class. Some students camp, some locals commute, and others choose to rent accommodations with more creature comforts.

Onsite camping (with your own warm bedding and rainproof tent or hammock) is available for free to all students (including locals) during class. Some set-up-for-you tents are available with cots and cozy bedding for a flat fee. 

Campers and all students have access to a lovely outdoor kitchen equipped with a stove and hot and cold water, plus pots and pans, knives and cutting boards, bowls, plates, and utensils, along with an outdoor shower with hot and cold running water and an outhouse. If you’d rather rent a hotel, house or cottage, there are many available. We’ll share a curated list of nearby options once you’ve registered. 

Costs of different accommodations

So you can better plan your trip to come learn with us, here’s some info on accommodations we offer, or that we link to in the student handbook you’ll receive upon registration. Below it you’ll find info on transportation.

  • Camping with your own gear: free
  • Staying in a large tent with a cozy cot and bedding that we set up for you: $200 flat fee; you can stay there anytime from 5pm before the first day of your class, to 12pm the day after your class ends.
  • Hyper-local off-campus single rentals: $40-$2000/night + fees
  • Hyper-local off-campus couples rentals: $20-100/person/night + fees
  • Hyper-local off-campus group rentals: $25-$86/person/night + fees

Getting a place or renting a car with a group of fellow students and carpooling are great ways to make connections and reduce costs! We share contact info for each class so you can get in touch and make plans together. Everyone has a chance to keep their info private if they choose.

Transportation info and costs

You won’t need a car during your class. There’s a chance you may want to run an errand or go out to dinner with fellow students, and if this happens, it’s highly likely that another student with a car will be happy to give you a lift.

We’ve also got a list of folks who will do airport and grocery shuttle runs for $50-$80 each way. We share this information in the student handbook when you register. If you’d rather rent a car, those run anywhere from $45-$200/day. Just like with lodging, teaming up with a group of fellow students to share a car rental can help build connections and reduce costs. 


Pricing for All Gender’s Basic Carpentry

Regular Pricing: $850 – $1,700

Please pay what you can afford.  The median price is suggested to help cover the full cost of hosting this class. Please select the low end of the sliding scale if you are low income. If your household income is over $115,000/year, please select the maximum fee. Please place yourself in this range where you deem appropriate, based on your income.

Course Date:

  • Sep 26-29, 2024