Interpreting the past for the present

Workshops at the Woods

The Woods, my former home and teaching space, is located in rural Oglethorpe County, Georgia. It is once again the classroom area for Workshops at the Woods. Classes range from stone-age technologies to traditional woodcraft and wilderness skills, with occasional just-for-fun offerings. Unless otherwise noted, all classes are for adults.

Despite a general trend towards long-range 'curriculum' style wilderness programs, I have elected to offer free-standing individual courses. This allows participants to select classes that are of particular interest and relevance to them, or to fill specific areas of need. Also, this approach gives me flexibility to offer occasional classes tailored to the needs of archaeologists and other professionals. A small number of classes will be taught by guest instructors who are specialists in their respective fields.

Because the Woods is no longer our primary residence, the house and facilities will be available for overnight lodging for participants traveling long distances. At present, there is no set fee for this, but we will accept gratuities to cover housekeeping, utilities, and other overhead costs. While outfitted with many comforts, attendees will be responsible for providing food for the duration of their stay.

If you'd like to sign up for our workshop emails, click here.

The Hard Stuff: Advanced Primitive Lapidary

Saturday 17 September 2016
9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Cost: $40/person

Sure, anyone can make an atlatl weight or bearing block from soapstone...but it takes a pro to tackle "real" rocks! Yet the results are gratifying and often stunningly beautiful. The main feature of this class will be bearing blocks (for your bow-drill) made from any one of a variety of (relatively) hard materials such as marble, greenstone, diabase, siderite, quartz, and others. In addition to basic shaping and polishing, bipolar (percussion) drilling, hafted rotary drills, and sand-and-cane drilling will be covered. Stone axes will not be covered, but the methods learned in this class can be applied to them, and the basic process will be demonstrated. This class will be informative for primitive skills enthusiasts who desire to take their craft to the next level, as well as for archaeologists who wish to improve their understanding of stone-work beyond the realm of flintknapping.

Registration closes September 10th

You can register online (and pay for the course) using this link:

Introduction to Spoon Carving in the Scandinavian Tradition

Saturday 15 October 2016
9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Cost: $60/person

In a world of mass-produced merchandise, it is wonderfully satisfying to realize one’s kitchen or mess kit consists largely of utensils made by hand. Working in the tradition set out by Wille Sundquivst in Swedish Carving Techniques (1990), participants will learn the basics of how to carve and finish spoons (and other woodenware) from raw wood to completed item. Cost for this class includes a curve (“crooked”) knife from Mora of Sweden. Conventional Mora knives will be available for purchase as well. Spoons will be the focus, but a discussion of these methods as they apply to bowls and other items will be included. This will be an invaluable class for those looking to improve their handcrafted woodworking skills.

Registration closes October 8th.

You can register online (and pay for the course) using this link:

Put A Handle on a Mora Blade

Saturday 12 November 2016
9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Cost: $50/person

After many requests and much deliberation, I have determined that this class is a feasible undertaking. In this class, you will learn how to make and install a wooden handle on a 3” Mora 2/0 blade, to create an extremely utilitarian knife. We will use pre-cut wood blanks as a matter of preference (carefully selected wood can have far more character than antler, and presents different challenges as a handle material). We will shape and drill the handle prior to fitting the blade; the blade will be secured with epoxy, and, because this will be a full-tang knife, the end of the tang will be trimmed and piened at the base. Also, bring your factory wood-handled Mora if you are interested in learning to customize and decorate it. Because of the possible need for more tools and equipment than are available at the Woods, I may opt to conduct this class at the Winterville residence (this will be announced well in advance of the class date). This is about 20 miles closer to Athens (GA) than is the Woods, in case this makes a difference in your decision to participate.

Registration closes November 5th.

You can register online (and pay for the course) using this link:

Burn and Scrape Woodworking

Saturday 10 December 2016
9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Cost: $40/person

My sense of timing is sometimes uncannily sitting around a fire while straightening cane arrows in July. But I’ve made the effort to coordinate this class for optimum compatibility. The flagship project that demonstrates the notion of “fire as a tool”, burn-and-scrape woodworking is highly useful for seasoned practitioners as well as beginners who are looking for an easy-to-learn skill set. This course will focus on making a mortar (for foods, herbs, or pigments) burned into a pre-cut wooden blank; depending on skill and ambition, wood will be provided for making carved pestles, or, alternatively, a selection of suitable river pebbles will also be available. Additionally, wood (yellow poplar) will be available for those who wish to try their hand at carving a spoon blank and finishing the bowl by burning.

Registration closes December 3rd.

You can register online (and pay for the course) using this link: