Woodturning for Beginners with Finn Valley Cottages

At Finn Valley Cottages, we love nothing more than providing unique experiences for our guests. Tom Campbell’s woodturning for beginners experience is a firm favourite with locals and visitors alike.

Visitors flock to our area to escape the busy stresses of modern life, and enjoy a slower pace, in the beautiful open countryside. Woodturning is the ideal, meditative activity to relax, and gain a new perspective on the world around you.

You’ll learn new skills, enjoy time working with your hands, and get a chance to try out one of the oldest crafts in the world, all under the expert eye of master woodturner, Tom.

Here’s why we think woodturning for beginners is the perfect activity for Finn Valley guests.

What is Woodturning?

Woodturning is the craft of creating furniture, ornaments and other objects using hand tools and a lathe. Unlike other woodworking methods, hand tools are held still, while the lathe spins the wood, creating an even and symmetrical effect.

As one of the oldest crafts in the world, woodturning dates back thousands of years. On our woodturning for beginners experience, you’ll have the chance to try your hand at the same traditional techniques that locals have used to create furniture and tools for centuries.

It’s also one of the most accessible forms of woodworking, and one of the easiest to pick up. 

Unlike modern methods, using traditional hand tools and a manual pole lathe is incredibly safe. Since you work slowly, there is little risk of injury, or damaging your project and having to start over.

This makes woodturning for beginners ideal for anyone who’d like to try their hand at woodwork, even if they have no previous experience.

Tom Campbell only works with recently felled, sustainable woods. This means that his woodturning experiences are highly sustainable, while also utilising soft woods which are easy for beginners to work with.

Things to do woodturning for beginners

Who Can Try Woodturning for beginners?

Our woodturning for beginners experience is popular with guests of all ages, from a variety of backgrounds. No prior experience or knowledge is needed, with Tom giving all guests a flavour of the traditional methods used in woodturning.

The woodturning for beginners experience is particularly popular with history buffs, professionals who want to try a more hands-on craft, and international guests who’d like to experience traditional Irish country crafts.

As a slow and meditative process, woodturning is an excellent option for anyone who wants to escape the fast past of modern life, and harken back to a simpler time. Against the backdrop of the Irish countryside, our guests find woodturning to be highly relaxing and therapeutic.

What Can I Make with Woodturning?

Over the centuries, woodturning has been used to make a wide variety of items, including furniture, ornaments, plates and bowls, and even parts for viking long ships. As a master craftsman, Tom’s work is highly sought after, and furnishes country houses around Ireland.

What you can make depends on how many sessions you’d like to book with Tom. Many of our guests choose two to three full-day sessions, allowing them to construct their own sawhorse and pole lathe, before working on their projects.

Others prefer to come for a shorter half-day taster session, where they’ll get to experience the key techniques involved in green woodturning.

As a true master woodturner, Tom offers courses for all abilities and levels of expertise. Whether you’re an experienced woodturner, or you’d simply like to try your hand at a new craft, you’ll find working with Tom an incredibly rewarding experience.

4 Reasons to Try Woodturning for Beginners

Woodturning is by far one of the most popular activities for guests at Finn Valley Cottages. Of course, everyone is different, and guests choose woodturning for a wide variety of reasons.

Some have a deep interest in local history, or prior experience of different woodworking methods. Others simply want to try their hand at a methodical and relaxing outdoor activity. 

Here are four incredible reasons to book a woodturning for beginners experience during your stay with us.

Enjoy a Sense of Achievement

These days, not everyone gets to have the experience of creating something with their own two hands. The modern age has brought many advantages, but nothing can beat the sense of joy which comes from carving something out of wood with hand tools and ancient techniques.

Many children today have never had this privilege. Getting the chance to build something from scratch can give children and young people an enormous sense of accomplishment, which helps to build their self-confidence.

Who knows, Tom’s experience might even be the beginning of a life-long love of woodturning.

Experience Local Heritage

Our guests also love the chance to reconnect with their heritage, and experience life from a different age. With over 40 years of experience of his craft, Tom is the perfect guide to the rich heritage of local woodturning in the North-West region.

Generations have used the same techniques to create vital wares, including furniture and tools. We’re proud to give our guests an opportunity to take part in this rich local heritage, and gain a better understanding of local life over the centuries.

Spend Time in the Great Outdoors

We’re blessed to be based in one of the most scenic and tranquil locations in the world. The rolling hills, forests and streams of counties Donegal and Derry are famed around the world for their natural beauty.

A woodturning experience is the perfect opportunity to get into the outdoors, and work directly with locally sourced, natural materials. You’ll love getting the time to unwind and enjoy the local landscape, while you work.

woodturning for beginners example image

10% Discount for Finn Valley Guests

Best of all, we have developed a great relationship with Tom over the years.

Based just a few minutes drive from us, outside the town of Sion Mills, he’s practically our neighbour. This means that guests at Finn Valley Cottages can enjoy a 10% discount on his woodturning experiences.

We’re committed to supporting the local economy, by working with other like minded tourism businesses. Speak to our proprietor, Ann, or contact us today to find out more about what to do during your stay at Finn Valley Cottages.

Embrace a Giant Spirit Logo

Strule Cottage exterior

Strule Cottage


  • Guests: 6
  • View: Outdoor sink and bench for fish prep and Large storage area suitable for Canoes
  • Bed Type: 3x En-Suite Twin Bedroom

View Details

DERG cottage

Derg Cottage


  • Guests: 2
  • View: Open plan studio apartment
  • Bed Type: 2x Single Beds

View Details