The Southwest School of Woodworking is a for-profit educational organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. Our mission is to promote the craft of woodworking and to instill the concept of craftsmanship in all of our students.
The Southwest School of Woodworking was founded in 2013, when furniture-maker Raúl Ramírez recognized that many high school and vocational school wood shops were closing, leaving young people with few options to learn the craft. By collaborating with other professional woodworkers and woodworking teachers from Arizona and beyond, Raúl began to sketch out the idea for a school that would provide a comprehensive woodworking curriculum.
From the beginning, we have included classes for all levels of students because woodworking—like any craft—is a never-ending process.
We believe that craft is best learned through mentorship from experienced practitioners, much like the Old World tradition of apprenticeship. For this reason, the expert instructors at our school strive to create a welcoming, supportive environment in which to lead students beyond mere proficiency and into mastery.
The core of our curriculum are classes designed to engage novice and intermediate woodworkers. At least twice a year we offer a three-part Fundamentals of Fine Woodworking series designed as an introduction—or re-introduction—to woodworking that will establish a foundation for accomplishment and mastery. We also offer regular introductory, intermediate, and advanced classes in topics such as finishing, inlay, veneering, and turning. However, our schedule also includes Master classes with leading instructors like Michael Fortune, Frank Klausz, Paul Schürch, Doug Forsha and others, which allow more advanced woodworkers an opportunity to refine their skills and work with contemporary masters. We also offer special project classes, and weekend workshops which allow students to practice their skills under the guidance of an experienced professional woodworker to produce a finished work.
Our school is inspired, in part, by other successful woodworking and furniture-making schools around the United States. Like them, we feature a variety of curricula, a low student-to-teacher ratio (most of our classes have eight or fewer students), and passionate instructors who are also among the foremost practitioners of our craft.
Our original classroom building was located in a building owned by the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery. William Eaton, director of Roberto-Venn, has been a generous supporter of Southwest School of Woodworking since the very beginning, from 2013 to fall of 2015, he allowed us the use of a classroom shop at his wonderful school in South Phoenix. In October 2015, recognizing that we had outgrown our space, we moved to a larger building on the downtown Phoenix campus of Rio Salado College. This space includes two bench rooms with eight student benches in each, as well as a separate lathe room for turning classes, a dedicated power room for machinery, a comfortable break room, and a gallery to provide additional resources for the local woodworking community.
The Southwest School of Woodworking welcomes both local and out-of-town students, including international visitors. Our home city of Phoenix is the state capital of Arizona and offers year-round sunshine and resort activities, making it a delightful destination for a woodworking vacation, with many attractions for non-woodworkers as well. For information on traveling to Phoenix, visit VisitPhoenix.com.