Get confident building for yourself and others

Our hands-on carpentry program is non-residential and takes place at Wild Abundance, located near Asheville, NC. It’s appropriate for beginning to intermediate level builders; no experience is necessary, just enthusiasm, a willingness to learn by doing, and the desire to work hard. If you do have experience, there will be plenty of depth and advanced skills to dive into, you’ll definitely learn a ton too.

This is a non-residential program. Some participants already live in the Asheville area, and many move here specifically to take part. If you live a little too far to commute, but not far enough to move, you are welcome to camp on campus the night before and during program days each week.

A female student smiles with a piece of live edge exterior siding boards in a carpentry and building program

Small group carpentry program with lots of personalized guidance and support

For two days each week you’ll work directly with our site crew on a variety of projects, including building and maintaining handmade structures at our permaculture homestead campuses.

You’ll also get into things like concrete work, roofing, preparing for building classes, sticker stacking lumber, and more. Together with a small group of other participants, you’ll get clear and hands-on guidance about what needs doing and when, and the practice (not just theory) of how to do it. 

In order to make this a more comprehensive program, we’ve added a 9 day tiny house immersion to the regular 2 day a week, 4 month program. During this intensive, you will learn, and actually complete, the framing and sheathing of a tiny house, along with the other content mentioned in our Tiny House Building Course.

group photo of students in a four month buliding program with a structure they worked on

Lifetime access to our comprehensive online building program

The hands-on carpentry program includes access to our comprehensive online Tiny House Academy. We’ll give you regular assignments to watch specific video lessons in preparation for, or as follow-up to the work at hand. This way, you get to learn the concepts intellectually and also put them into action in a flexible online/in-person setting.

Online Tiny House Building Course is available on a computer, laptop or phone

What to Expect:

This hands-on carpentry program is all about learning by doing; it will grow your skills and confidence

We’ll work together on some projects from the beginning stages, complete others, and maintain some of the structures and systems already in place at our well-established campuses. 

There will be some straight-up class time focused on design and learning specific skills, but the vast majority of your time will be spent learning by doing. Some days you will be working with one of the site managers on a specific project, and other times you’ll be working with other participants or on your own.Throughout the carpentry program you’ll get into a wide variety of tasks and skills like: setting up a tarp over a building site; doing site prep; installing hardwood floors; painting; running to the store for supplies; assisting a tile job with a tile expert; etc.

A woman student on scaffolding attaching tar paper to the exterior of a two story building

Here are some specific projects you’ll get into:

  • Building Design
  • Floor Framing
  • Wall Framing
  • Electrical
  • Roof Framing
  • Metal Roof installation
  • Concrete work
  • Trim
  • Layout 
  • Proper use of carpentry tools
  • Lumber stacking and storage
  • Preparation for building classes

Two students in a hands-on building and carpentry program learning how to install a door handle and lock

Depending on timing and the progression of projects, you may also get into doing or seeing demos of:

  • Plumbing
  • Insulation
  • Tilework
  • Window and door installation
  • Interior paneling
  • Site preparation
  • Lime or other natural plaster 
  • Moving buildings
  • And other skills

Two students work with electrical during a hands-on building program

Please note: this hands-on carpentry program includes real work

Learning by doing means that your body gets into the work of building and carpentry. You’ll be bending, stooping, using tools, carrying heavy loads, climbing ladders, and working in varied weather. Some of this work will be glamorous, and a lot of it won’t be. Nobody will be pushed beyond their own physical abilities, but everyone will be expected to work hard. We like to get to know each other and have a lot of fun together, and we also need to make real progress on projects.

If there is a serious deluge, we will likely move to an indoor project; however, we will gather and work in gentle rain, wind, and hot sun. Before you apply, be sure that you’re up to the physical and mental challenge of working hard outside for two full days each week. If you have physical limitations, please make sure to mention them in the registration form so that we can discuss whether this program will be a good fit. If we find that it is not a fit, you’ll be issued a full refund.

Your labor helps make this program possible

This program is very different from the rest of our building classes; it’s much more focused on getting things done. In our shorter classes (Women’s Basic Carpentry and All Genders Basic Carpentry), the main goal is for the students to learn, and often the projects we work on don’t end up staying at Wild Abundance.

We’ve created this intensive, longer-term hands-on carpentry program so that a small group of participants can seriously grow their carpentry and building skills through practical application, while also contributing their energy to support projects at the school. Lots of clear instruction will be provided through the online Tiny House Academy, the in-person tiny house immersion, along with specialized guidance for tasks throughout the program.

A young female student carrying lumber to a building project in a carpentry class

Some of the work will be sequentially on a building, learning a task or technique and then gaining muscle memory doing it over and over again. Other kinds of work includes stacking lumber, digging holes, moving things around, putting a roof on a shed, or doing other things necessary for the school to run smoothly.  The cost of this program reflects this balance of instruction time and work time.

With this model, we are offering a much lower teacher to student ratio, and a per-day cost that’s about half that of our other building classes. In order for it to work financially, we rely on participants being truly helpful and getting things done. 

Conventional and unconventional building

Most of our buildings are some mixture between creatively earthy and efficiently modern. This is because we like to use the material that makes the most sense for a given project. For example, if we are building a mobile tiny house, we use conventional lumber because it is light; when we build an outhouse, we use treated wood where it will make contact with the ground and possibly rot, then locally sourced lumber for the majority of the framing and siding. We like to think ecologically and practically when choosing materials.
Building apprenticeship students install wood siding on house.

Best blend of online and in-person learning

During and leading up to this program, you’ll be required to complete 2-4 hours of online learning each week.

In order to accomplish this prep work, you’ll get unlimited access to our online Tiny House Academy, where you will find engaging teachers giving lectures and hands-on demonstrations on carpentry and tiny house building skills. This program includes all the steps you need to learn how to build a tiny house

Building is learned best by doing.

A building student making cuts for a structure in the hands-on carpentry program

Engaging muscle memory is super important in the trades. Indeed, learning the theory of something is very different from getting practice actually doing it. That’s why we give the theory portion of the program in a searchable, online format, and we reserve in-person time for repeated, hands-on experience. We’ve found that when you actually do a thing, many times, you’ll be much more likely to remember the ins and outs of it, and how to do it well years from now; you will learn the skills in your body and carry them with you.
A building student installs hardware to construct a floor system

Learn what it takes to build your own house

One intention of this program is to give participants an opportunity to learn many of the skills that they need to build their own simple, small house. These include designing buildings, digging holes, setting up rebar, pouring concrete, building a floor system, framing and sheathing walls, building a roof system, installing metal roofing, simple electrical, paneling, siding, and more. Making lists of what’s needed to complete jobs, and getting comfortable negotiating trips to the hardware store are also essential skills. Some of these will be learned through work on a single building, and many will be learned piecemeal on different buildings.
A female smiles proudly in a building she's been working on constructing with a carpentry class

Creating new opportunities to enter the world of building

Throughout our years of teaching women’s carpentry and all-gender tiny house classes, we’ve seen people from many different backgrounds learn to build for themselves and feel great about it.

All too often, building can feel like a world that isn’t accessible to everyone; we’re here to break down those barriers. Whether you’ve got some experience, or just a strong desire and willingness to work at it, you can learn how to build for yourself.

This hands-on carpentry program is an opportunity to transform that passionate interest into a bevy of real skills that will serve you throughout your life.

Student on ladder installing tar paper like you may do in the building apprenticeship

Schedule and Timing of the Program

We meet each Tuesday and Wednesday from 10:00am-4:00pm with some breaks and flexibility around weather. If you have obligations that prevent you from coming to a few of the days, don’t worry about it. Most students will miss some days, but we expect you to attend at least six out of the eight program days per month. 

In addition to the regular 2 day a week program, we will also be doing a 9 day intensive. Depending on registration for both programs, you may be joining a session of our Tiny House Building Workshop, or participating in a similar intensive just with the other carpentry program participants. 

Dates for the spring intensive will either be May 24-June1 or April 16-April 24. The fall dates will be August 16-24 or August 27-September 4. Which set of dates is used for the intensive will be announced to students in late February for the spring program, and in late June for the fall program.

Group picture of students in the four month hands-on carpentry program in front of a structure they are building

Getting your questions answered

The “lecture” aspect of this program is done mostly online, through watching the Tiny House Academy video lessons. The in-person portion is completely hands-on, and you should expect to really get things done while you’re here! Questions are welcome as we’re working on things, or during Q&A sessions before or after program time, in order to deepen and clarify the content that’s been shared online.

We ask that every participant watch the assigned online portion of the program before the in-person days, so you can arrive with a baseline understanding of what we’ll be doing. This way, our discussions can be much richer and participants can utilize in-person time to deepen their knowledge.

Austin instructs students on how plumbing installation practices in a project building at Wild Abundance's 4 month carpentry program

Wild Abundance building classes

One of the best ways to learn deeply is by sharing and teaching. Wild Abundance offers a variety of building classes, including Women’s Basic Carpentry, All Genders Basic Carpentry, Advanced Women’s Carpentry, and our All Genders Tiny House Workshop. If participants in the 4 month hands-on carpentry program demonstrate interest and seem up to the challenge, we may invite them to test themselves by assisting in some of these classes. This can be an amazing opportunity to deepen the learning and to connect with more folks who are enthusiastic about learning how to build. This doesn’t work for everyones’ schedule or personality, but some participants have found this to be an extremely valuable opportunity.

worksites with two class building projects seen mid-construction: a tiny house and a shed

Program Size

We will be welcoming a maximum of eight participants into this program. If you are interested, please get on the waitlist and register as soon as we open it up. After you do this, we’ll schedule a 20 minute online interview so that we can confirm that the program is a good fit. If it doesn’t seem like a match from the interview, we’ll issue a full refund.

We welcome folks of all gender and racial identities in this program! The building trades in the U.S. are often dominated by a small segment of the population, let’s disrupt this trend!

two female students work on the roof of a structure while others work on the ground at a carpentry and building program

Your Main Mentors

You’ll be working with our site crew, along with some of our carpentry instructors, other experienced carpenters, and our founder and director, Natalie. Austin and Chad manage physical infrastructure on our campuses, along with doing some instruction. They are skillful, patient, hard working, and fun to be around. They both identify as cis-male, but don’t let this deter you if you don’t share that identity! They have been welcomed into Wild Abundance by our female-leadership in part because they offer respect to people of all genders. In other words: they’re not macho and they won’t mansplain. 
An instructor for the 4 month carpentry and building program teaches students how to install interior trim around windows and doors.

Attend for four months or eight months

The standard hands-on carpentry program is for four months. If participants are interested in attending an additional four month section, there is an opportunity for tuition reduction or even a small stipend for the second session attended. The terms of this are determined on an individual basis three months into the first session attended. If you would like to stay on for a full eight months, be sure to communicate this early.

Big commitment and big reward

The hands-on carpentry program is for you if you’re ready to commit significant time and energy toward learning how to build. During the course of the program, you will level-up your competence and confidence with building. If you apply yourself to the online material and in-person practice, you’ll likely come away with a much deeper understanding of the process of building, including different techniques, what kinds of projects you’d like to do on your own vs. hire out, and much more. We can’t wait to work with you!

student installing interior trim around a window in a room with rustic wood paneling 



Site Crew

Austin Parsons

Special Ops Coordinator After growing up in Indiana, Austin moved to North Carolina in 2017 when his partner was apprenticing with Natalie at Wild Abundance. Originally trained as an auto mechanic, Austin has always had a knack for ‘figuring things out.’ He loves to take what seems like an unsolvable problem and come up with ...
Natalie Bogwalker

Natalie Bogwalker

Natalie (she/her) is the visionary behind Wild Abundance, as well as the founder, director, and a primary instructor for many classes. She also dreams up new classes, is a big part of curriculum development, manages the campus, designs buildings, and takes beautiful photos for the website. Natalie is passionate about teaching and sharing skills to ...

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  woodshop, and spacious covered open air woodshops and workshops for working on building and carpentry projects, plus other lovely features. 

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.

Facilities and Accommodations

There is an outdoor kitchen stocked with a stove, pots and pans, hot and cold running water, and a fridge where you can store and prepare meals during program days. If you want to rinse off before going home, you are welcome to use our outdoor shower (with hot and cold running water) and anytime you need it, we have a cozy and clean outhouse.

Most students live nearby or move to the area for the 4-month program and commute to attend. If you live regionally, but too far to commute, you’re welcome to pitch a tent, sleep in your vehicle, or post up a sleeping bag in an unoccupied and unfinished building for free on the evenings before, during, and after program days each week, and during the 9 day intensive.

Regular Pricing: $3,700 – $7,200

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.

After you register, we’ll set up a 20 minute Zoom call so we can both see if the program is a good fit for you. If we decide it isn’t, you’ll get a full refund.

Course Date:

  • Jul 30 to Nov 20, 2024 (filled)