Last October, the only school in the Southeast offering an intensive professional course for woodworking opened quietly (figuratively, at least) in West Ashley, with three students starting a 30-week program led by local furniture-maker Sam Sprouse, himself a 2006 graduate of the prestigious Chippendale International School of Furniture in Scotland. ”I wanted to ensure that the art of creating furniture using traditional methods will be passed on,” he says. ”Furniture made using techniques like dovetail joints and mortise and tenons is not only more visually appealing, it will last generations.”
In addition to joinery techniques, pupils at the Charleston Woodworking School learn what Sprouse calls ”dying art forms”: veneering, gilding, and French polishing. They gain experience in antique restoration and hone business and project management skills.
With five students starting class this month, the West Ashley workshop is nearing max capacity. Sprouse hopes to open a new, state-of-the-art space in 2016—one that will allow the professional course to expand while meeting the demand for night and weekend classes for woodworkers of all skill levels.