An extraordinary thing has happened in Australian woodworking over the past 20 years or so – we have become really good at it. Woodworking skills amongst the average enthusiast woodworker, along with their professional designer maker colleagues has reached levels never seen before — woodworking in Australia has entered a renaissance.

This is not to say that the skill levels amongst our fore-fathers was necessarily low, after-all my childhood home was furnished mostly by pieces made by my father, put together at night using his old Shopsmith and pre-war Stanley planes. And no doubt most of the best examples of wooden objects ever made came from the past, when craftspeople were the centre of manufacturing and not machines. In those days however, the motivation for doing woodwork was far different, the craft was a function of necessity rather than a pastime.

“Making a thing remains a primary goal, however the process of achieving that goal is related more to personal development.”

In that context, wooden objects traditionally made by the average Australian would have purpose as their major design driver: a thing to fix a problem, a cabinet you could not afford to buy, or a cradle for a new born child. Even today in this more prosperous time where people can afford to pay someone else, these ‘problem fixers’ still exist manifested as ‘Do It Your Selfers’ dedicated to the pursuit of fixing problems by putting in a shelf, building a cubby or even a deck out the back.

Enthusiast woodworking today sits in a separate space to this DIY movement as a creative pastime that provides its participants not necessarily with a solution to an objective problem, but with a pathway to resolving more subjective problems. Surveys tell us that woodworking is a pastime participants practice to unwind and relax, to network, to express themselves, or to take a break from modern life. Making a thing remains a primary goal, however the process of achieving that goal is related more to personal development.

Bern Chandley shaping handholds with a rasp

Bern Chandley shaping handholds with a rasp

The implications of this development for woodworking are far reaching. Free from the shackles of always fixing a problem, as a pastime woodworking is now free to be experimented with, re-invented, shared with others and practised over and over as participants find the style of woodworking they find most rewarding. Rather than developing specific functional skills, woodworkers are now developing broader skill sets that work to enhance the craft and evolve it to meet contemporary needs. This change in the nature of woodworking, taken with the huge availability of equipment, learning media and online platforms that allows participants to share their creations, is motivating the existing and next generation of participants to engage and build their skills – enthusiast woodworking is set to go mainstream. All this is all very exciting, yet one underlying fact does remain – woodworking can be difficult to learn, and even more difficult to master. To cater for this challenge, woodworking schools are popping up everywhere to suit all types of makers as hands on teaching is a popular and effective way to build hard skills both technical and design orientated.

Ross Annels marking out

Ross Annels marking out

Wood Dust Designer Maker offers a range of three, two and one-day design and woodworking Masterclasses to assist enthusiast woodworkers to take their skills to the next level. Led by a team of Australian and international woodworking Masters, Wood Dust Masterclasses are an intensive experience where participants may absorb and practice a range of design and woodworking skills in a convenient and professional environment. The extra advantage of a Wood Dust Masterclass is that you spend time with a teacher who offers all the dimensions of a great woodworking experience: expertise, experience, passion and a fundamental love for the craft. Along with your Masterclass colleagues, you have the opportunity of a physical, intellectual and emotional woodworking learning experience.

Masterclasses at Wood Dust Designer Maker are on sale now

Held over four days in August, at Melbourne’s newest makerspace FAB9 in Footscray, Wood Dust Designer Maker explores the art of design for woodworking and the processes of fine craftsmanship to realise the designs intent. Wood Dust Designer Maker offers a full suite of Masterclasses with leading designer makers including David Haig from New Zealand, Reed Hansuld from Brooklyn New York, Vic Tesolin from Canada, Carol Russell and Ross Annels from Queensland and Melbourne’s own Bern Chandley. Demand will be high so check out the range of Wood Dust Masterclasses today.

In addition, and to round out your Wood Dust experience, Wood Dust Designer Maker offers our new feature event, the Weekend at Wood Dust Makers Conference exploring all things designer maker with rolling live demonstrations spread across six live workshop areas. Alongside is the Wood Dust Timber & Tool Marketplace featuring all your favourite timber and tool suppliers. If you are passionate about design and woodworking, and you want to build your skills alongside other woodworkers, you won’t want to miss Wood Dust Designer Maker.

Plan your Wood Dust Designer Maker experience now!
For enquires on Masterclasses or the Weekend at Wood Dust please contact us at

Fine Woodworking is a proud sponsor and media partner of Wood Dust Designer Maker 2019. For more than 40 years Fine Woodworking has been teaching, inspiring, and connecting with a passionate audience of woodworkers.