Who we are... What we do
The Southwest School of Woodworking is Arizona’s only comprehensive woodworking school. The school is run by a group of passionate professional woodworkers who started the school in 2013 in response to an alarming loss of woodworking classes in high school and technical schools across Arizona. We believe that passing on the craft is our mission, and we love to bring new woodworkers into the fold.
From the beginning, we modeled our school on the best contemporary schools around the U.S., as well as taking inspiration from the great European traditions of craft education. But we wanted to provide those opportunities here in the Southwest.
While there are many woodworking schools in the Eastern U.S. and on the Pacific Coast, we started the Southwest School of Woodworking to serve our local region, and beyond. The majority of our students come from Arizona and surrounding states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California, we have also been delighted to welcome visiting students from Texas, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Canada, and even New Zealand and Australia!
Many of our students are hobbyists, some are training for a career in woodworking, and others already are professional woodworkers seeking to further develop their skills. We welcome all and we work hard to offer a full curriculum with classes for all levels.
The core of our curriculum is our three-part Fundamentals of Traditional Woodworking series, which gives every student a strong foundation in the tools, methods, and philosophies of our craft. Fundamentals I is designed for the absolute novice or a self-taught woodworker looking for a more organized approach. It focuses on developing hand tool skills and learning to understand the behavior of the wood. Students get hands-on practice in marking out, joinery, assembly, design principles, and more, as they build several small tools and other useful projects.
In Fundamentals II students progress to power tools and learn how to integrate them with hand tools for maximum efficiency. During this class, every student builds a classic bench that incorporates different joinery techniques and allows them to employ their new skills.
Fundamentals III brings together both hand and power tools to give the students a cohesive experience of furniture making. The centerpiece of the class is for each student to work from plans to make a Shaker-style table from solid wood with a dovetailed drawer, mortise-and-tenon aprons, and tapered legs. Students who complete the full Fundamentals series should have a solid understanding of woodworking principles and will receive a Certificate of Completion to commemorate their achievement.
Beyond the Fundamentals, we offer a wide range of classes that include everything from short Weekend Workshops to extended Master Classes.
Guest instructors include some of the foremost woodcraft professionals working today, who teach classes in topics including Marquetry, Advanced Veneering, Furniture Design and Construction, Carving, Turning, Finishing, and more.
In addition to skills classes, we offer Project Classes that give students the opportunity to build a more challenging design under the guidance of a professional woodworker.
Our workbench class, for example, features an heirloom style bench with a solid four-inch top that is mortised into the legs, fitted vices, legs with mortised and tenon stretchers, and a tail vise (wagon vise) that incorporates hand-cut condor tails.
The Rocking Chair class allows experienced students to push their skills with features including bent laminations, advanced joinery, complicated fit-ups, and hand-sculpted seat, arms, and rockers.
We also offer a fully-equipped Turning Center with a range of classes from beginner to advanced. With nine floor lathes, a wide assortment of high-quality turning tools, and experienced instructors, our Turning Center is a fantastic place to learn. Our classes range from beginner-friendly topics like pen turning and bowl turning, to more challenging shapes and complex projects with professional instructors.