The 'Merry month of May' has certainly lived up to it's reputation.  So much has been achieved in a short space of time. Finally, we found a couple of weeks to give the Sussex Barn workshop a long overdue and very thorough make over, making it a dedicated, self-contained teaching space without any distractions. The last few days of the re-fit felt a little like a rather surreal episode of DIY SOS, painters and fitters worked all hours at speed as the completion time was very tight before the next course began!.  

After many requests over the years for accommodation on site, we are also extremely excited to now be in a position to offer our students the option of Bed & Breakfast in our 17th century farmhouse. Read more .....

During all this frenetic activity John has been keeping up with restoring and making and written another fascinating in depth article for Furniture & Cabinetmaking magazine on the sticky business of gluing entitled 'Sticky Fingers'.  

Each month we feature the work of one of our bench renters or past students.  This month the focus is on Martin Spencer, who specialises in beautiful bespoke chairs and tables that are designed uniquely for each client.

Don't miss this month's blog, intriguingly entitled GROOVING WITH TWIN HEADLIGHTS! Read more...

Finally, don't forget to check out John's latest top tip below for a creative recycling idea!

The 'SKILLS WEEK' 11-15 July is now full. New EXTRA week added 25-29th July.

 Sussex barn Teaching Workshop image 1

and ready for the next students and a liberal dusting of sawdust!  It was amazing how much valuable space was hidden under accumulated 'useful' stuff! 

WOOD MACHINING WEEKEND COURSE - one place still available
11-12 June    £300 

If you find the thought of serious woodworking machinery rather daunting, if not a little scary, then this is the course for you.  John will take you through the safe and effective way to get the most from these big machines.   Machines covered include: Band-Saw, Table-saw with sliding table, Planer-thicknesser, Spindle moulder, Morticer, ‘Domino’, Biscuit Jointer

There are a maximum of 3 people on this course to allow a generous amount of time for each student to practice and gain confidence on each machine.
Book here...

Focus on MARTIN SPENCER - Maker

I graduated with distinction from the Furniture Making Diploma course at West Dean College and then completed a further chair making course at the John Lloyd Furniture workshop.  

Inspired by the 'organic functionalism' of mid-twentieth century Scandinavian design, I aim to combine the organic form of wood with the functional requirements of comfort, practicality and purpose.   I draw attention to joints by making a feature out of changes in grain direction and highlighting the joint with a contrasting timber.  I keep the design simple, exclude unnecessary detailing, and remove any wood that is not absolutely necessary.  I use only English hardwoods, primarily walnut, oak, elm, ash, cherry and beech and finish my pieces in organic natural plant based oils.  The aim is for elegant, simple, organic furniture.  I make chairs that are designed uniquely for each client.
 Martin Spencer English Ash Arm chair

Arm Chair in English Ash with Elm seat and Drawer
This chair has the recognizable form of a Windsor ‘Captains’ chair, so called because a comb-back version was taken on board HMS Resolution by Captain Cook on his final (and fatal) circumnavigation of the globe. Made from English ash, the angles in the turned legs, spindles and arm support all relate to each other and have been sharpened to give a more contemporary look. The back is ‘stitched’ with walnut. The solid elm seat has a draw mounted underneath. Traditionally drawers were placed under Windsor chairs to hold craftsman’s hand tools. 

 Martin Spencer English Ash Arm chair with walnut seat

Arm Chair in English Ash with Walnut seat 
This chair shares the same Windsor heritage as the ‘arm chair in English ash with elm seat’.  The frame and back are made from English ash and the seat is made from English walnut showing the distinctive colour contrast between sap wood and heart wood. The back and arm rests, formed from a single plank of ash, cut and stitched with walnut, form a continuous flow that wraps around and frames the seat. 
 Martin Spencer Easy chair in Englihs Oak

Easy Chair in English Oak and Paper Cord
This chair was inspired by the easy chairs made by Danish designer Finn Juhl who was the first to break with traditional chair making techniques by freeing the seat and back from the chair frame.  The structural components, the legs, arm rest and back all come together in a complex but elegant multidimensional joint that is held in place by a single walnut ‘screw’.  In profile the legs and arm rest create an engineered frame that offers up the seat and back to be hand woven in 500 metres of paper cord. 

I will be exhibiting some of my work at the Blue Shed Studio in Ditchling during weekends in May as part of the Brighton Festival Artists Open House scheme.


Just a few of the lovely comments from my April group of RESTORATION students.  

"Having zero woodworking skills I amazed myself with what I achieved after only five days - all credit to John for his excellent teaching. The small class gives everyone lots of one to one time with John. I arrived with a piece of firewood and went home with a beautifully restored 19th century chair".

"The in depth knowledge it gave me and the confidence through the practical work to carry out projects of my own. Additionally the relaxed attitude that carried throughout the week."

"Time was given to individual participants. The course was well structured and easy to follow."

Course details

BANKSIDE FARM Bed & Breakfast
Sara Jane and John look forward to welcoming you.  Double room with ensuite bath/shower.
Special discounted student rates.  Read more....

Bluebell 3


We were delighted to be invited by the Bluebell  Railway to be part of the huge restoration project carried out on the Fingall Pullman dining carriage.

Hundreds of intricately inlaid panels were numbered and removed from the carriage prior to them being stripped, hand finished and replaced.  The painstaking work took over 18 months to complete but the final result was stunning and well worth a visit to the Bluebell Railway at Sheffield Park, East Sussex.  

Don't miss John's latest Blog
GROOVING WITH TWIN HEADLIGHTS! Everyone’s a sucker for twin headlights aren’t they?
Read it here

Tip of the month inner tubes

Continuing the cramping theme ..... good use of old bicycle inner tubes.  Fabulous for applying pressure on odd shaped repairs.


and finally .......... because cake makes the world go around!



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The Author John Lloyd

John Lloyd trained in Furniture Making and Antique Furniture Restoration & Conservation with Bruce Luckhurst at the Little Surrenden Workshops in Kent, where he graduated with distinction.  He also taught antique furniture restoration at West Dean College, Chichester.  

John was awarded the City & Guilds of London Institute Silver Medal of Excellence,  the highest possible award, as First Prize for Advanced Studies in Furniture for Furniture Making and Antique Restoration.

With the experience of a 25 year career as a successful furniture designer/maker and restorer behind him, John now teaches intensive courses from his delightful workshops in rural Sussex.  He also regularly contributes articles to the leading furniture making magazines.

John is a full member of BAFRA, The British Antique Furniture Restorers’ Association.