The Southwest School of Woodworking is an educational organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. Our mission is to promote the craft of woodworking and to instill the concept of craftsmanship in all of our students.
Our school was founded in 2013, when Phoenix furniture-maker Raúl Ramírez recognized that many high school and vocational school wood shops were closing despite the ongoing demand for cabinetmakers in the workforce and an increasing interest in all forms of handcraft.
Collaborating with talented woodworkers and teachers from Arizona and beyond, Raúl began to sketch out the idea for a school that would provide a comprehensive woodworking curriculum and serve everyone from hobbyist to professional.
We started offering a few classes per year in a single borrowed room at the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery in South Phoenix and quickly discovered that there were students of all ages eager to learn woodworking.
In 2015, we moved to our own building on the campus of Rio Salado College in downtown Phoenix. With multiple classrooms, a fully-outfitted machine shop, and even a woodworking gallery, we have expanded to serve hundreds of students annually with year-round classes in a wide array of disciplines.
In 2017, we opened our Turning Center, which hosts regular classes for all skill levels, as well as master classes with innovative turners from around the world.
And, fulfilling the dream that got us started, we’ve even partnered with a nearby school to offer vocational classes for interested high school students.
As we’ve grown, the core of our curriculum has always been our three-part Fundamentals of Traditional Woodworking series, which uses progressively more complex projects to teach novice woodworkers the key aspects of fine craftsmanship. We now offer this series at least three times every year as well as a wide variety of skills classes, project classes, master classes and weekend workshops.
Many of our students have found employment in cabinet shops and related businesses, some have started their own woodworking studios, and many others have developed a fulfilling creative outlet.
Meanwhile, we continue to seek new ways to serve our community through woodworking education.
The core of our curriculum are classes designed to engage novice and intermediate woodworkers. At least three times a year we offer a three-part Fundamentals of Traditional Woodworking series designed as an introduction—or re-introduction—to woodworking that will establish a foundation for accomplishment and mastery. We also offer regular introductory, intermediate, and advanced classes in topics such as finishing, inlay, veneering, and turning. However, our schedule also includes Master classes with leading instructors like Michael Fortune, Frank Klausz, Paul Schürch, Doug Forsha, David Fleming and others, which allow more advanced woodworkers an opportunity to refine their skills and work with contemporary masters.
We also offer special project classes, and weekend workshops which allow students to practice their skills under the guidance of an experienced professional woodworker to produce a finished work. Our school is inspired both by leading woodworking schools around the United States and by the Old World tradition of apprenticeships. We feature a variety of curricula, a low student-to-teacher ratio (most of our classes have eight or fewer students), and passionate instructors who are also among the foremost practitioners of our craft.