The Illawarra Woodwork School is based in Wollongong NSW Australia, 1/1 York Place, Woonona 2517. Illawarra Woodwork School started in 2005 by Robert Chapman. Stuart Montague joined Illawarra Woodwork School in 2012.
The classes are project based: After the first initial lessons were using the basic hand tools for marking out, cutting and planing timber are taught, we start on your project.
The initials projects are there to introduce to the workshop and to teach hand skills as well as introducing you to the machinery. We have a range of first projects mirror frame, wooden mallet, chopping board and a jewellery box. As your skills increase, further projects include dining tables, cabinets, chairs and stools.
The Illawarra Woodwork school also offers weekend & 5 day workshops in chairmaking, spoon carving and greenwood furniture making. These workshops are taught by inhouse tutors or by Australia’s finest woodworkers such as Carol Russell & Hape Kiddle.
About the teacher; Stuart Montague
Stuart with his Father, Douglas who like his own father Charles Montague was a fine furniture maker.
The classes are taught by Stuart Montague who has been making furniture for over 30 years and is a third generation furniture maker. Stuart has a trade background as well as a Fine Arts Degree from the University of Tasmania with a major in Design in Wood. This allows him to have a diverse background, from traditional French and English furniture through to contemporary. Stuart has exhibited both nationally and internationally.
The classes follow the school term times. Fees for the classes are paid at the start of each Term. Term lengths are generally 10 weeks. If you miss classes during the term then they can be made up on different nights.
The Illawarra Woodwork school also organises the Illawarra Festival of Wood at Bulli Showground on the second weekend of October. We hope to build a woody community through the school & festival.
If you would like to register your interest email me :
Projects, Projects, Projects!
11 drawers with hand cut dovetails front and back. All the stretchers are mortised into the carcase…..more than 76 joints……..Now that is enough to challenge even the most committed woodie!
A little about the classes
Traditional and modern skills are taught. In a chest drawers, for example, the frame or ‘carcase’ would be dovetailed together. Drawers are made in the traditional way with hand cut dovetails front and back and solid timber bases.
A class generally has 8 students enrolled each term.
We have the full range of Festool hand-held power tools. They are generally considered to be the best available. When students are making chairs, they would normally choose to make the joints with the Festool Domino system due to the ease, accuracy and time that is saved with this type of machine.
We use no chipboard, MDF or veneered manufactured boards (except a little quality ply now and again). All projects are generally made from solid timber using traditional techniques.
Students have the opportunity, as their skills increase, to use all the machinery available in a modern furniture making workshop. These machines include jointers, thicknessers, wide belt sander, linishers, disc sander, panel saw, lathe, bandsaws. The most experienced students also have a limited opportunity to use the spindle moulders and horizontal slot mortises. Lots of technical terms I know but for those who want to know the nitty-gritty then there you go.
We stop for ‘cuppa’ and ‘bickie’ halfway through as we are here to have fun and share stories too.
How do you get the most out of the classes?
Think years not terms……the average term is less than 1 week full time. You will learn so much in this time but it’s only the beginning. I am constantly amazed at how quickly people with basic skills become really competent furniture makers but it does not happen in a term. The people who get the most out of the classes (in terms of productivity) have been coming for a least 2 terms. Many of the students have been coming for years and some since I started. It’s fun, a way of life, and a creative, hands-on experience that many people do not have an opportunity to enjoy career wise nowadays.
People come to the classes with a range of skills (or even no skills!) The teaching is tailored to suit individuals. (Thanks to all the students who put up with me learning how to teach!)
I keep a range of timber in stock that students can purchase for their projects if they wish. This includes Tasmanian Blackwood, Celery Top, Hoop, Sassafras, Macrocarpa and other specials as they come our way. Limited amounts of 6 and 12mm quality ply is also available.
As all the sawdust is recycled into compost, no treated pine, melamine, MDF or chipboard can be used as all the dust goes into one central collection unit and cannot be separated.