Emerging Turners Programme


The Register of Professional Turners (RPT) has been aware of the worrying demographic – specifically age, ethnicity and gender – of career woodturners and of the challenges this creates for the future growth of woodturning in the UK. To help play a part in overcoming these challenges, the RPT instigated the Emerging Turners Programme (ETP). 

Students will be up-and-coming, UK-based woodturners with a professional ambition. It follows on from where the AW

According to Heritage Crafts, woodturning is still on the Green List. This list comprises “Currently Viable Crafts” and anecdotally woodturning comprises mainly hobbyists:

For woodturning to remain a viable occupation, it requires craftspeople sufficiently skilled in the ability to transmit turning and business skills to the next generation but it also requires the bringing together of these skilled individuals with the young turners of the future.

With copy-machines, CNC, laser cutters and 3D printing available to all, hand turning may, in the future, if not already, be seen as archaic even arcane, labour intensive, expensive and redundant. Woodturning, with so few young practitioners filling the shoes of those past exponents, may cease to be a relevant career path, particularly in light of Covid 19 initiating the retirement of some highly skilled professionals from teaching and demonstrating in-person or in toto.

Goal of the Programme 

To change the demographic of woodturning in the UK by encouraging the growth of professionally-minded turners amongst a younger cohort, therefore playing a part in helping the craft to remain vibrant and continue to be an important heritage craft and career path.  


The following objectives have been identified:

a.   To identify exactly who is the “next generation”.

b.   Support, encourage and educate, without gender or ethnicity bias, young woodturners, artists and makers-in-wood so that they may continue to develop ways, with a modern approach, of using a lathe for their work.

c.   Bring together under one workshop-roof, young turners for an opportunity to gain confidence and learn from peers.

d.  Develop a community of young makers.

e.   Annually provide a 3-day, hands-on workshop to develop new skills and techniques from established turners and makers running their own businesses.

f.   Create a network of young woodturners working towards a career in woodturning.

g.   Create opportunities for dialog with established turners thus creating mentoring opportunities. 

h.   Provide access to Continual Professional Development events run by and for the RPT.

j.    Channel details of exhibitions, courses, commissions and other opportunities.

k.   Encourage those on the ETP when ready, to apply to the RPT.

l.    Help develop younger role models for turners of the future.

m.  Help develop younger teachers of woodturning.

n.   Help develop younger demonstrators of woodturning.

The Programme

The programme comprises 3-day, annual workshops designed for up-and-coming woodturning practitioners with a professional ambition. Students will be UK-based and aged between 18 and 35 yrs. They will have taken steps towards creating their own business, be working for furniture/woodworking companies or pursuing artistic turning.


The workshops thus far: 

Have taken place at the Max Carey Woodturning Trust Workshop in Bristol (2022) and at the Birstall Woodturning Club’s workshop in Mirfield (2023) 

Twenty eight students have taken part; six more have been identified with two waiting coming-of-age.

A WhatsApp group established for continued communication amongst students. 

Each 3-day workshop had a timetable of complimentary activities  including but not restricted to; spindle turning, boxes, hollow forms, tool shaping, sharpening, honing, workshop health & safety and design. There is end-of-day discussion time and a critique of students work which they bring from home specifically for this.

Talks on planning and devising strategy for business success.

Talks on costings and remaining financially viable.

Tutors have included Mary Ashton, Jason Breach, Sally Burnett, Dave Dalby, Richard Findley, Phil Irons and Stuart Mortimer. Carl Burn gave presentations on design, use of technology and how to run a successful business.  

Ron Caddy, who has been instrumental in organising youth training for the AWGB over many years, was a guest in Bristol; it was felt important that he should witness the RPT providing for a different cohort to that which the AWGB offers training. 

Guests from the Worshipful Company of Turners include Dr. Matthew Gaved, Melissa Scott and Paul Logan.

The students applied themselves and were really engaged with tasks, tutors and each other. These are full-on timetables with no one having a chance to get bored or have their attention wander, but importantly, everyone was encouraged to work at their own pace.


 A strong network of young, talented makers has been created. Some had never before met another turner of similar age – finding themselves in a workshop where they were not the only young turner present amongst a sea of white, aged males – make these networking opportunities priceless.

The workshop was felt a safe place to ask questions and glean wisdom from the established professional tutors. It stimulated a huge amount of discussion on how to run a successful business.

Four students have since been enrolled on the Register of Professional Turners.

Five students were invited to present on ‘Meet the Woodturner Live’ in January 2023.

Several students have since been offered production work from one of the tutors.

Four students took part in the Wit (Women in Turning) collaboration, organised by the American Association of Woodturners (AAW).

Four students were offered mentoring opportunities.

Nine students committed to sending 90 exhibits to the ‘Nature in Art’ Exhibition 2023 with space being given by the AWGB.

One student has provided a photography workshop for the RPT.  

One student has attended a workshop with Carl Burn and Neil Turner (Australian Turner visiting for the AWGB seminar) and funded in part by the RPT.

A network between the Emerging Turners and Registered Professional Turners has been established as many of these professionals didn’t know of these young turners.

Key Performance Indicators

 KPIs identified as follows:

  1. many more applications than places 
  2. a high level of social media activity both before and after the events, 
  3. post-event feedback from students was comprehensive, positive and constructive
  4. post-event feedback from tutors was highly positive and constructive  
  5. each 3-day workshop fell within budget 
  6. no student left the programme
  7. high levels of motivation to learn – a great many, really thoughtful questions were asked
  8. high level of initiative to develop three fund-raising opportunities
  9. various opportunities of work and learning have arisen for students since being on the programme
  10. lots of videography and photography taken to record for future publicity with student reflections and thoughts documented via short, unedited films –


Sponsorship and Funding

 The workshops would not have been possible were it not for the short-notice funding (2022) and underwriting (2023) from the Worshipful Company of Turners. 

a.    The fundraising organised by the students comprises:

i)   donation page –  https://www.gofundme.com/f/emerging-turners-programme

ii)  selling – https://www.numonday.com/shop/the-emerging-turners-programme/

iii)  raffle organised at the “Chestnut Weekender” 

b.  100% of donations and sales go directly to funding the training programme.

c.   Each piece of work listed has been donated by it’s creator many of whom are Registered Professional Turners.

d.  In 2023, the Register of Professional Turners provided a one-off donation of £1000.00 .

e.   Registered Professional Turners are providing free demonstrations to the Birstall  Woodturning Club to pay for the use of the Birstall workshop.

f.    Registered Professional Turners provided live woodturning demonstrations of pieces of work to be auctioned.

g.  Registered Professional Turners donated lucrative raffle prizes.

h.   Registered Professional Turners donated timber for some of the projects.

j.    One Registered Professional Turner donated fees earned from giving an international presentation.

k.   Registered Professional Turners freely provide the administration of the Programme.

Development of Programme   

Another workshop is in the process of being arranged for 2024, at the Birstall Woodturners Workshop in Mirfield. A high level of returning students have already signed up, with three new students. Tutors are Richard Findley and Colwin Way.

Peter Bradwick from the WCT has been invited (and accepted) as our guest from the WCT, so that he may evaluate and experience the programme first-hand.

The programme has the potential to develop into a three-year cycle, with a three-year timetable to allow for progression of skills in turning, business acumen and design technology. 

A scheme of work should be established to provide a framework from which to work but used only as guidance. Part of the success of these workshops is that there is some freedom to move with the student’s skill-level and requirements without the pressure of needing to ‘complete’ a certain skill-level within a restricted timeline.

More differentiation is required within the projects to account for student’s skill levels.

Future students in the next iteration of the three year cycle should be charged a financial contribution


There is a huge desire and need for more of these workshops within the programme and with generosity, collaboration, forward thinking and an excitement for the future of woodturning and its practitioners we will see great things being achieved. It requires a broad teamwork of effort to ensure that woodturning remains a viable career path and a healthy and energetic craft in the UK.