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Our 2018 course schedule will be posted by December 1st. Please fill out our Request Form or call our office to get our latest brochure and updates as they occur.
The Heartwood School for the Homebuilding Crafts
The Heartwood
Apprenticeship Program

The Heartwood School has a long tradition of summer apprenticeships. Each year since its inception in 1978, special individuals have been invited to share in the experience of living in a community of craftspeople. Over half of our Apprentices have gone on to interesting and rewarding careers in homebuilding, timber framing and other areas of construction.

The main purpose of the Apprentice shop is to train individuals who are interested in timber framing as a career. We seek people who will not only commit to at least six weeks of residency in courses here at Heartwood but who are also going to actively seek employment in timber framing upon completion of the program or in the near future. Apprentices will maintain a Journal of their work here, which can later serve as their résumé of Heartwood experience.

We are looking for people who will put the skills learned here to the best use. While a good carpentry background is helpful, it must be accompanied by enthusiasm to learn, to teach others and work as part of a team. Through this program we offer you not only a comprehensive knowledge of house building and timber framing, but also a clear, concise methodology of problem solving and training your eyes and hands for quality and beauty. This is our definition of craftsmanship.

Up to four apprenticeships will be offered each year. The starting date and length of the apprenticeship will depend on the program developed for each individual. This program will be the result of the candidate's interview with our directors, the time available and the interests and motivations expressed through the candidate's application letter and resume. Apprenticeships could start as early as May and run as late as October, and must include a minimum of six weeks of participation in Heartwood workshops. Additional work/study, tours or Timber Framers Guild events may fill in open weeks (if any) between courses. The six weeks of coursework at Heartwood will not be continuous, so some flexibility is required of the apprentices. During the time between courses some go home (if they live close enough), do work or study here or nearby, or tour the region. Some travel may be required to attend Guild functions. Apprentices may elect to attend various combinations of courses depending on their experience and goals; these could include our Housebuilding course and our Timber Framing Curriculum, which covers Design and Joinery Decisions, Compound Joinery, Basic Timber Framing, Converting Trees to Timbers, Scribing, and other workshops. Guild events include conferences, workshops, tours and raisings led by Guild members. All of our instructors are members of the Timber Framers Guild, and attending Guild events is a wonderful way to learn more about timber framing and find out about employment opportunities in the field. Many timber framing companies and professionals recognize the Heartwood Apprentice shop program as a good source for future employees.

The tuition fee for the apprenticeship averages varies each year, and includes housing, lunch and attendance at all Heartwood courses and Guild events. There is a significant reduction in the tuition fees a regular student would pay; exact costs will be determined once the applicant’s program has been established, usually soon after the interview. Applicants do not have to commit to the program until these costs are agreed upon. Housing consists of use of a kitchen and bath and one of four sleeping areas: one loft in the Schoolhouse and three cabins behind it. While weekday lunches are included during Heartwood courses, apprentices are responsible for purchasing and preparing their other meals and for other living and travel expenses.

As an apprentice you will be responsible for maintaining the Schoolhouse (cleaning and mowing the lawn). This will be a 6-person/hour weekend job, and can be split up among the Apprentices. You will also help maintain the shop, library and supervise the building on nights it’s open to students. Another task will be to help set and run the on-site sessions, with the occasional run to the lumberyard for materials. You will attend Heartwood courses in the program as a regular student, with weekends free to do as you wish (outside of the above mentioned maintenance jobs). In addition, there may be open weeks during the apprentices’ stay when they will be asked to work on special projects either related to Heartwood Schoolhouse construction/maintenance or timber frame projects at other shops.

Please refer to the individual listings for complete descriptions of the courses. Timber Framers Guild events and workshops can be viewed at Throughout the program we will have many more opportunities to learn than those scheduled. In the past we have been able to include many weekend frame raisings, visits to nearby shops and other impromptu field trips and demonstrations. During the weeks when there are no courses scheduled we may work on special timber framing projects and travel to other shops to get exposure to other techniques and methods of work. Some camping (you must provide your own gear) and overnight travel for a number of days will be required. If you’re eager to learn and get a job as a timber framer, the Heartwood apprenticeship will give you the most concise and intensive experience available anywhere.


To apply for the apprenticeship, please submit a resumé of woodworking or construction experience (if any; it’s not required but preferred). Include any photos or illustrations of your work you may have (these materials will be returned upon request) and a letter explaining your interest in the program and short- and long-term goals, which this training may facilitate. Include on a cover sheet your name, address, age, sex, current occupation, day and night phone number, fax number and e-mail address. Please include at least three references that we may contact, and your educational background.

A personal interview is highly recommended before we decide on your application, so let us know if you would be able to visit the School sometime soon. The application deadline is January 1st; applications will be considered after that date on a space available basis. Apprentices will be notified of their acceptance into the program by February 1st at the latest.

Apprentices will be required to submit a 50% deposit upon acceptance into the program, with the balance due upon arrival. All fees are fully refundable up to six weeks prior to the beginning of their program, after which a $250 cancellation fee will be charged if we can't find another applicant to take your place. Should you have to leave during the program, tuition fees will be refunded on a pro-rated basis after deducting the $250 cancellation fee.

Apprentices will be required to carry accident/health insurance during their tenure at Heartwood. An insurance certificate should be submitted upon acceptance into the program, or a short-term policy can be obtained here at a cost of about $2 per day.

Thanks for your interest in the Heartwood Apprentice shop, and we look forward to hearing from you.

"The carefully planned and lovingly executed Heartwood experience...infected us with the high spirits and high standards that seem to characterize timber framing in the U.S. The activities - planned and spontaneous - which filled most of our remaining wakeful moments were as valuable and wide-ranging as the formal course element." — Isobel, apprentice '99, Britain

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Heartwood School

Johnson Hill Road

Washington, MA 01223

Phone: 413 623-6677


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Heartwood, Inc. All rights reserved.