Philadelphia Furniture Workshop, founded by Alan Turner in 2006, began as a woodworking school, offering a variety of project based and skill-based courses. Its first class, taught by renowned wood finishing expert Jeff Jewitt, ran in March 2006. Noted author and woodworker Mario Rodriguez joined the school in mid-2006 and taught here until his retirement in mid 2017.
Over the years the course offerings expanded, so that PFW taught not only basic furniture making skills, but also operated at the other end of the spectrum, teaching highly sophisticated pieces, ranging from a Hepplewhite butler’s chest with fitted gallery to an appropriately decorated Federal period card table to a Chippendale corner chair with hand carved ball and claw feet.
In 2014, in order to assure that PFW would continue beyond Alan’s association with it, the school was transformed to a nonprofit, and was granted tax exempt status as a 501-c-3 by the IRS, effective October 2014.
Craig Vandall Stevens joined PFW in July 2017 as its first Executive Director. Craig is a 1993 graduate of the College of the Redwoods where he studied under the legendary James Krenov. He brought with him enormous woodworking skills, together with the experience of having taught furniture making at most of this country’s most prominent woodworking schools for over 25 years, as well as having taught in Japan.
PFW looks to always expand its course offerings so that woodworkers of all skill levels may learn the skills needed for the design and building of furniture, the successful completion of which is its own reward. Our Mission Statement can be seen below.
Woodworking skills exist on a continuum, from the first grader nailing together a bird house to a master furniture maker finishing up a solid mahogany bombe chest. PFW is a teaching shop, offering instruction at all points along that continuum, with safety always the first concern.
We teach high school students practical applications of what they have learned in mathematics, geometry, physics, botany and art. We teach those of all ages who have never been exposed to woodworking. And we teach the intermediate and experienced woodworkers the skills needed to elevate their work. At all levels of woodworking, the successful completion of a project should bring the maker its own reward, whether approached as a craft or a vocation.
PFW is committed to insuring that woodworking as a practical art form remains viable for all who are interested, regardless of age, gender, race, wealth or experience.