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Our Courses

Tharwa Valley Forge runs courses every weekend and most days of the week. We provide everyone from novices to experts with the opportunity to experience traditional crafts and to learn new skills. No need to have ever swung a hammer or have used machines before - our courses are for everyone!

Something for everyone

Tharwa Valley Forge runs courses every weekend and most days of the week. We provide everyone from novices to experts with the opportunity to experience traditional crafts and to learn new skills. No need to have ever swung a hammer or have used machines before - our courses are for everyone!

Located 20 minutes south of Canberra we're in a beautiful piece of bushland on the banks of the Murrumbidgee river. Our campus covers ten acres and has onsite accomodation in our heritage listed cottage and homestead.


Our programs and courses are available to eligible people under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. You can read more here.

Current and Former ADF Members

We run Meaningful Engagement programs for current ADF members and Veterans who are receiving assistance to return to work or manage their service related health conditions. Learn more about our Meaningful Engagement Programs.

We understand that things change and sometimes you can’t make a course. Our courses are very popular and are often sold out many months in advance. We have a waiting list of people who’d like to attend, but we need to give those people adequate notice.

If you are unable to attend a course please give us as much notice as possible. We want to avoid disappointment and allow another person the opportunity to attend a course.

There are two options for people who can’t attend a course they have booked: 1. Refund (minus transaction costs) 2. Transfer to another course date

Refund or transfer entitlements depend on the amount of notice you provide.

Course dates don't suit?

Is the course you want booked out? Get a group of friends together and book a course when it suits you. Not only can do any of the courses we offer, you can customise them to learn things that you don't see on our website.

All you need to do is let us know what you'd like to do, when you'd like to do it, and how many people are in your group, and we'll get started.

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Learn the basics of traditional leatherwork through the process of covering a book. You’ll go home with a handcrafted book cover and journal along with the skills to make your own book covers to protect your own cherished books, diaries and notebooks.

Suitable for adults and children age 12+

On this two-and-a-half day course you’ll make a large brisket carving knife, cooking fire pit, and an asado BBQ. Best of all you’ll learn how to use them.

No BBQ or metalwork experience necessary; this course is suitable for anyone age 16 and up.

thing /θɪŋ/ noun

(Old Norse) ▶ An assembly or meeting of the free men and women of a country, province or a clan. At the thing, disputes were solved and political decisions were made. The place for the thing was also the place for rites and for commerce.

(Tharwa Valley Forge) ▶ A five-day Viking festival of making and feasting. Forge your own knives, helmet, axe, shield and other Viking tools. All-inclusive price covers food, classes, and camping in luxury Viking-themed tents.

Build your own English Longbow and learn archery. Experience blacksmithing by making your own decorative piece. Forge hot steel into a set of kitchen knives that will last a lifetime.

Tharwa Valley Forge is proud to provide Innovative Community Participation programs funded by the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Thanks to the NDIS, people may take part in our scheduled courses or attend a custom course designed to achieve a specific goal.

We regularly provide Meaningful Engagement Programs for current and former Australian Defence Force members. These programs are available to Serving Members and Veterans on an ADF or Department of Veterans’ Affairs rehabilitation program.

Learn blacksmithing or bladesmithing and make all the tools and equipment you need to continue at home.

Make your own custom Bowie Knife. This is a course for people who want to make a BIG knife.

Suitable for both beginners with basic workshop skills and experienced knifemakers who want to take their knifemaking to the next level. This course will teach you the pitfalls and secrets to success behind making these iconic outdoor knives.

“That’s not a knife…”

Always wanted to make a knife but didn't know where to begin? This extensive weekend workshop will give you the opportunity not only to learn these skills, but to put them into practice making two hand forged knives of your own. We will show you techniques, tools and hints on how to get started making your own knives.

Creating a folding knife adds a level of complexity and precision to knife making, and our course makes this achievable by anyone. Learn about some of the common mechanisms used in locking and non-locking folding knives before beginning the process of making your own single blade slip joint folder.

This course is taught by Alistair Phillips, the first Australian to ever design a production folding knife for Spyderco.

Make two custom stainless steel full-tang kitchen knives and learn the basics of knife maintenance.

This is a course for anyone who wants to make their own stainless steel knives, regardless of whether they've never touched a tool in their life or they're a seasoned maker looking to learn more about working with stainless steel.

We will explain the techniques, equipment and little tricks (especially for heat treating stainless steel) that will get you started making your own knives from stainless steel. In addition, you'll receive a free professional-grade ceramic honing rod along with the knowledge and skills required to keep your kitchen knives in top condition.

Japanese kitchen knives have distinct elegance in both form and function. In this intensive weekend course you will build two traditional style Japanese kitchen knives. Options include hammer finished or polished blades, chisel grind or V grind and a variety of handles choices. These blades will provide you with years of excellent service in your kitchen.

Make two custom stainless steel full-tang outdoor knives together with two custom fitted Kydex sheaths. Whether you are hunting, camping, fishing or out field in the military, these knives won’t let you down.

The course goes for two and a half days and is over 20 hours long.

Introduction to making knives by stock removal. This one day workshop will help you get started into knifemaking. Knife design, grinding, heat treating, blade finishes, scale making and sharpening are all covered.

We will show you techniques, tools and hints on how to get started making your own knives with minimal equipment, as you make your own knife today.

A one week immersive course in knifemaking for those who want to get a solid start. The course covers the knife making process with extra focus on forging, grinding and heat treatment of carbon steels. You will also make your own forge so you can continue to make and heat treat at home.

This course will show you how to use Kydex to make two basic styles of sheath and makes an excellent add-on for our one or two day knife courses. Kydex is an easy-to-form thermoplastic that molds tightly using minimal equipment and provides excellent protection and retention. Bring two of your favorite knives and walk away with two sheaths and the knowledge of how to make more at home.

This course is ideal for anyone who wants to make Kydex sheaths and holsters at home, wether for their own equipment or to sell to others. Bring two of your favorite knives and walk away with two sheaths, another small project of your own choosing, and the knowledge of how make a wide variety of other Kydex projects as well as how to make your own Kydex manufacturing equipment.

Learn how to make leather sheaths at home using inexpensive tools. During this short one-day course you'll make two leather sheaths for two of your own knives that you bring with you.

The skills you'll learn will not only allow you to make sheaths - they'll also get you started with a broad range of entry-level leatherworking projects. We'll also fill you in on the best places to source leather, fittings, patterns, and tools. Importantly, you'll also have the opportunity to talk to an experienced teacher about setting up to make sheaths at home.

Share the experience of making something beautiful and enduring. Spend quality family time together making a 70cm diameter spherical garden sculpture. This is a sculputure course for kids aged 10-14 accompanied by an adult.

Working in adult / child pairs, you'll learn fundamental metal sculpting techniques by forming and welding patterns of your own choice into a visually striking sphere.

Suitable for people who have never-ever used tools in their life through to people who are comfortable working with metal.

Sculpting with metal is easy to learn and rewarding to master. One you've got the basics down you're on your way - all you need is some inexpensive equipment and an artistic imagination. Suitable for people who have never-ever used tools in their life through to people who are comfortable working with metal.

Learn how to make an axe that excels at bushcraft and woodcraft tasks. On this one-day course you’ll forge a high-quality Canadian Camp Axe while learning the theory and practice of designing and making bush axes.

You’ll go home with a superb axe that can be used for cutting, chopping, splitting, felling, hewing, or hammering. Best of all, you’ll leave with the knowledge and skills to go on and make your own general purpose bush axes.

This course will teach you the essential blacksmithing skills you need to successfully learn by yourself at home.

Access to information about blacksmithing is easy thanks to forums, social media, and video tutorials. Getting hands-on experience under the guidance of an expert is harder to come by.

A lot of people want to get into blacksmithing - only a very small percentage are successful learning on their own.

Our Family Blacksmithing courses are a popular way for families to unplug from the digital world and spend quality time together. Experience the excitement of the traditional art of Blacksmithing and reconnect with the joy of making something with your own hands.

This is a one day holiday class for younger people (12 - 16 years old) interested in reconnecting with their hands and learning some creative skills. This is an especially good course for younger people interested in blacksmithing or metalwork.

It is hard work and you need to be able to follow instructions and concentrate for the day. But it is very rewarding to learn new and exciting skills to make things and bring your creations home.

Want to get started in blacksmithing but not sure where to begin?

Learn everything you need to know and make all the equipment you need to start blacksmithing at home. This week long intensive helps you build your skills as you build your own tools. Learn to make your own hammers and tongs as well as other useful tools. Go home with a gas forge and all the hammers, tongs, and other tools you need to start blacksmithing at home.

From time to time we host Master Artisans from around the world and offer the public the opportunity to attend intimate Masterclasses.

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Never pay for knife sharpening again. This evening course teaches you the secrets of getting and maintaining a fine edge. Protect your investment in quality knives - proper care and maintenance ensures a lifetime of use. Using the correct equipment and techniques, you'll save time and money by keeping your edges sharp using minimal effort.

There's a reason people still go to the barber for a Straight Razor shave. Disposable razors are convenient, but the results can't compare to a Straight Razor.

A Straight Razor will virtually melt the hair off your face, yet despite its keen edge is just as safe as a disposable razor when used with correct technique. Make the last razor you will ever use - a razor that if properly cared for will be handed down across generations.

This course is conducted by Dean Jard, Australia's largest custom razor maker and an expert at restoring heirloom razors. Dean has been teaching razor making and sharpening courses since 2012, and makes his own range of razors and strops that are sold to customers around the world.

Traditional Japanese straight razors, Kamisori, have been used for centuries to provide an outstanding shave. Their off-set hollow ground blade make a very keen edge. This one day course takes you through the process of making two Kamisori, as well as cases and a strop.

All the knowledge and skills you need to make a variety of Damascus pattern welded steel, as well as confidence and competence with heavy machinery like power hammers and hydraulic presses. You’ll develop more ability in one week than you would in a year or two on your own.

There are two types of people who take this course:

  • The first group are those who have bought or are thinking of buying a power hammer and / or press.
  • The second group are smart knifemakers who pay $3,000 to make four billets of Damascus which they turn into knives worth at least twice that much.

This intensive three day weekend course immerses you in the world of Pattern Welded or Damascus steel and kitchen knives. You will learn techniques in welding, folding and patterning beautiful and unique steel. We'll be using a hydraulic power press, power hammer and rolling mill to make the welds and draw down the billets. You will then make two kitchen knives with the steel.

The course goes for a very full three days 8am until 5pm. It is a combination of the Introduction to Damascus and the Japanese Kitchen Knifemaking courses into one packed long weekend.

Damascus - the ancient art of folding iron to make steel, with delicate watermarks like woodgrain. This is a one day introductory course, suitable to beginners, where you will make your own 100 layered billet that you keep for use in future projects.

This course goes great with our other knifemaking courses. Make a billet of Damascus steel and bring it along to one of our Japanese Knifemaking, Kamisori - Japanese razors, or Knifemaking courses.

In this comprehensive weekend long workshop you will fashion a longbow of sustainable Australian hardwood and beautiful bamboo, custom crafted to your own specifications. You will learn the theory, science and art of turning dead timber into dynamic and fearsome longbows. You will also learn how to craft bowstrings, and if you don't already know - be introduced to the rewarding pursuit of shooting a longbow.

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