Dovetail Woodworking was set up in 2019 by Steve Barlow, to offer a range of courses with the aim of imparting knowledge and skills to the keen amateur ‘leisure’ woodworker.

The traditional workshop is based in the beautiful Staffordshire countryside within an old canal boat maintenance building at Norbury Wharf, 10 miles west of Stafford and easily accessible from the M6 motorway.



The emphasis will be on the use of hand tools, traditional methods of construction and the fundamentals of woodworking, to equip participants with sufficient ability and confidence to continue to develop their woodworking skills at home without the need for large and expensive machinery. 

All tools and equipment required for the courses will be provided, together with the timber and any other materials for the project.

There will be no more than four participants per course to enable maximum individual attention.

For those intending to stay overnight whilst attending one of the courses or maybe including it as part of a longer break/holiday, please take a look at the Local Amenities page that includes nearby accommodation and places to eat. Also listed is a selection of local attractions that may be of interest whilst in the area.


Workshop/Taster Days

Workshop/Taster Days are great for absolute beginners who would just like to try their hand at woodworking for a day.

Unlike the full tuition courses, that include more detailed instruction and use of a wider range of tools and techniques, the Workshop/Taster Days are all about having a go at making a small wooden item and to have the opportunity to see if working with wood might be for them.

Take a look at the Projects page to see the items that can be undertaken.



After leaving secondary school, I joined a family run firm in Newcastle-under-Lyme where I worked as a cabinet maker for 39 years. In that time I had the opportunity to work alongside many talented and skilled craftsmen to a position of teaching apprentices myself and becoming the workshop manager.

Over the years I have been very fortunate to gain a wealth of knowledge and experience in many aspects of woodworking, including: antique repair, the making of free-standing and fitted furniture (both traditional and contemporary) and numerous commercial projects - such as the box office desk at the New Vic Theatre in Newcastle-under-Lyme.

In 2018 I decided to pursue my desire to pass on the knowledge I have gained to a wider audience wishing to develop their woodworking skills.

I had the pleasure of working with Steve for 13 years at Lancaster & Tomkinson. I would say that Steve is an ‘old school’ cabinet maker with a wealth of knowledge and abilities. If you can learn half of what Steve knows you will become a well rounded craftsman.
— Andrew Humphreys

Norbury Wharf

Norbury Wharf is on the Shropshire Union Canal at its junction with the former Shrewsbury and Newport Canal branch which now sadly extends only 100 yards to the first lock from Norbury Junction basin.

The wharf is owned and operated by Norbury Wharf Ltd who offer full boatyard facilities, hire boats, boat trips, canal-side tearoom and even a holiday cottage.

The wharf buildings include the Grade II listed, mid 19th century, boat maintenance workshop where the Dovetail Woodworking workshop is located.


Shelmore Timber

The English Oak you will use at Dovetail is locally sourced - very local - in fact it has been grown, felled and milled not more than half a mile away on the neighbouring Norbury Park Estate and supplied by Shelmore Timber.

The timber has an unequivocal provenance coming from woodland once owned by the Earls of Lichfield.

Norbury Park recently received a Royal Forestry Society award for 'Planting Woodlands for Climate Change.'

We love our trees, all half million of them:
— Shelmore Timber