Edward Johnson’s School of Craft

Edward Johnson in the workshop. This furniture designer-maker describes his work as “being led by a core desire to challenge and innovate”

Having run a successful bespoke furniture making business since 2009, award-winning designer-maker, Edward Johnson, has now expanded the business and set up his own craft school in a bid to share valuable skills and knowledge. Edward is passionate about keeping traditional cabinetmaking skills alive, which was the main driving force behind him establishing the School of Craft.


A student chisels a steam-bent mirror during the five-day steam-bending course

The School offers a new range of in-house courses – suitable for hobbyists and budding professionals alike – including ones that focus on tool sharpening, spokeshaving and steam-bending, and the list of those available is due to expand soon.

A focus on steam-bending

Most of the short courses currently run at the School are strongly focused on steam-bending – a traditional and beguiling technique that’s been used for years and was once widely employed in the production of weapons, tools and vessels.

It’s still used today in the manufacture of furniture, crafting of musical instruments, in addition to boatbuilding, and offers a very effective method of shaping timber to add beautiful twists, bends and turns to a wide range of designs and projects.


Steam-bending in progress on the five-day ‘Make your own Sussex Mirror’ course

Those familiar with Edward’s pieces will know that curves are a major feature. This is often the starting point of many conversations surrounding his furniture, and in fact, the designer-maker is frequently asked as to whether he uses steam-bending techniques. The answer to this question is yes – in some cases at least – although Edward is also a master of laminating and hand-shaping to produce the organic curves regularly exhibited in his work.


Sussex Mirror by Edward Johnson – available to make on the dedicated five-day course

It can be magical to observe the process of steam-bending where timber is manipulated into various curved forms, as Edward describes: “It’s great fun seeing a solid 50mm piece of oak bend round a former with ease and no matter how often I witness it, I’m still amazed.”

Hone & learn new skills

Working alongside Edward and his team of highly skilled cabinetmakers provides an opportunity to be taught by professionals who’re active in the industry and working in a commercial furniture studio.

The workshop is well equipped with everything you’d expect, from hand tools to high-end machinery, but more than that, any potential students are sure to receive a very warm welcome from the team. It’s a place where you can come and chat about tools, machines and timber with like-minded others, while honing and learning new skills, all in a friendly, professional environment.


Hairpin coat hook by Edward Johnson – available to make on the dedicated three-day course

Edward Johnson’s rural studio, workshop and School of Craft is located just outside the village of Bosham near Chichester, West Sussex. One past student provided the following feedback: “Not only was the course informative, but well planned with everything covered from wood choice and preparation prior to introducing steam-bending, which is a real art. Ed has a great team working with him and they really were a joy to be around. We were also shown how to correctly sharpen tools, which was an added bonus.”

If you’re interested in finding out more about Edward Johnson’s School of Craft and the courses on offer, email [email protected] or visit the website for more information: www.steambending.co.uk.


A student works on steam-bending a hairpin coat hook while on the three-day course