Women’s Basic Carpentry

Course Dates:

  • Apr 6-9, 2023
  • May 11-14, 2023
  • Jun 8-11, 2023
  • Jul 20-23, 2023
  • Aug 24-27, 2023

Why Women’s Carpentry?

line drawing of fabulous woman carpenter

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 femme-identifying 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 class is truly about the basics of carpentry. It’s about learning to use tools and getting comfortable with them by working on some large and small projects. No prior experience is required.

Ella Scotto and women's carpentry student measuring a board

That said, if you have experience but don’t have a mastery over safe and ergonomic use of the table saw, chop saw, circular saw, and hand tools, this is also the class for you. 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!

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

woman using a chop saw in a carpentry class

What to Expect: Learn Basic Carpentry Skills

woman with safety glasses using a carpenter's pencil to mark on wood

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

women's carpentry students using a speed square for marking a straight line on a board

Thursday 9:30am-12:30pm and 1:30pm-5pm

Friday 9:30am-1:15pm and 2:45pm-5pm

Saturday 9:30am-1pm and 2pm-5:30pm

Sunday 9:30am-1:30pm and 2:45pm-4:45pm*

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. Some students choose to come early on Sunday to start their personal projects.

* Class ends by 4:45pm on Sunday, and students may leave whenever they finish their personal projects on this day. This can be as early as 1:30pm 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: Tools, Tools, Tools

three women with tools doing carpentry

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). When we cover the more intimidating power tools, the class will break up into three groups so each person can get personalized attention. 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. 

Tools we’ll cover on day one include:

  • Circular saw
  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Speed square
  • Safety equipment
  • Table saw
  • Chop saw
  • Miter saw and sliding miter saw

Day 2: More Tools, Project Design, and a Field Trip

woman using a power drill to do carpentry and build a bench

Explore more tools, plan out your personal project, 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 for making holes in wood
  • Impact drivers for driving screws *This is always a class favorite…women seem to love screwing around*
  • Bits for the above-mentioned tools, each of which are quite different

woman with a big smile holding a shelf that she built in a basic carpentry class

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 small shelf, a birdhouse, or a tool caddy.

After lunch, we’ll 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 our field trip, we’ll discuss what kinds of wood are appropriate for different projects, and go over screws and other fasteners, including their application. Equipped with this knowledge, everyone will buy what they need for their personal projects, which we’ll tackle on day four.

Day 3: Tools Finale, Plus Hands-on Practice

birds eye view of a woman driving a screw with an impact driverGet proficient in a real-world application

On day three, we’ll have our third and final tools class. This time we’ll cover:

  • Levels
  • Chalk lines
  • Hammers
  • Hand saws

Next, for three hours, we’ll work in small groups on simple, real-world projects. Some of these will be on Wild Abundance infrastructure, while others may be for neighbors, community members, or local non-profits. We won’t be trying to get a whole lot accomplished on these projects, but instead will focus on starting to master tools that have been covered so far in the class. 

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 contributing to 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.

closeup of hands pushing a board through a table saw

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.

Toward the end of day three, you’ll get a chance to cut out the pieces for your personal project. 

Students showing off their carpentry projects they built in the women's basic class

Day 4: Your Own Woodworking Project

carpentry student holding two sawhorses she built during a woodworking class

Build your very own rough and simple masterpiece

On day four, everyone will get to complete (as schedules allow) 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 at the lumber yard and cut 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:

We’ll close up the wood shop at 4:45pm (earlier than days 1-3). Individuals will be done with the class when they complete their personal projects (any time between noon and 4:45pm). If you have time constraints, we advise you to choose a simple project like a small bookshelf.

Enjoy our beautiful outdoor woodshop near Asheville, NC

outdoor woodshop at Wild Abundance

The Women’s Basic Carpentry class “woodshop” is the lovely Wild Abundance homestead campus. During the class, we work in 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. 

proud woman carpenter and a shelf she built

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
  • Impact driver
  • Drill
  • Carpenter’s pencil
  • Measuring tape
  • Speed 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 four 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 there are some male instructors for this class; will he “mansplain” to me? Is he patient and understanding?

Our male instructors are all incredibly patient people, experienced and skilled carpenters, and excellent teachers. We are very careful in choosing and training male instructors who aren’t just willing to teach women a basic carpentry class, but who also feel passionate about women’s empowerment and shifting unfair gender dynamics in carpentry. 

We have never had a complaint about our male instructors’ teaching or demeanor. On the contrary, we’ve had many, many compliments about their teaching styles, skills, knowledge, and ability to work gracefully with our students.

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 abilities 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. 

Dannie Piped

“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


Jocelyn Mosser

“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


Annie Sellick

“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


Patty Rhodes

“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


Sass Ayres

“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


Karen's hand with a drill

“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.”

Women’s Basic Carpentry Student


Natalie Bogwalker doing carpentry

Natalie Bogwalker

Natalie (she/her) 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: ...

Ella Scotto

Ella (she/her) 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 ...

Ellie Richards

Ellie Richards (she/her) is an artist living and working in Penland, North Carolina, she is the wood studio coordinator at Penland School of Crafts.  Her work, both furniture and sculpture, are exhibited widely including recent juried exhibitions at the Mint Museum,  the Center for Craft, Creativity, and Design, SOFA Chicago, and the Society of Contemporary ...

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 ...

Danielle Swift

Danielle’s (she/her) career in construction officially started at 15 with a summer job as a laborer working for her uncle’s design/build firm in Maryland. She continued acquiring building experience and tools through college, ultimately graduating from SCAD with a master’s degree in Architecture and a dual BA in Architecture and Historic Preservation. She went on ...


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 ...

Class Location

This class is held in Barnardsville, at the Wild Abundance home campus 

The Wild Abundance home campus is a beautiful and diverse permaculture homestead, about 25 minutes north of Asheville. You’ll receive detailed directions on how to get here upon registration. This is where Wild Abundance founder and director Natalie Bogwalker lives with her family. It’s nestled amidst a handful of other homes in a small community on a short gravel road. If you’re attending a class hosted at Wild Abundance, you will likely also traveling on field trips or going to other nearby sites for builds.

Please note: our campuses are all unconventional, with rustic amenities and uneven ground. Read more about our campuses here.

Local Accommodations and Facilities

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

Pricing for Women’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.

Pricing for Women’s Carpentry Package

Includes Basic and Advanced Women’s Carpentry 

Regular Pricing:  $1,600 – $2,560

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 $80,000/year, please select the maximum fee. Please place yourself in this range where you deem appropriate, based on your income.

Please note that our Advanced Women’s Carpentry Class is only available to those who have already taken the Women’s Basic Carpentry Class. 

Course Dates:

  • Apr 6-9, 2023
  • May 11-14, 2023
  • Jun 8-11, 2023
  • Jul 20-23, 2023
  • Aug 24-27, 2023