29 June 2008

Horses for Courses

What a fantastic day we all had yesterday with the MiniBash. Paul Chapman had just taken delivery in the last couple of weeks of a pair of rather tasty Wenzloff saws and was anxious to learn how use them to best effect, so he came down to Salisbury fairly early and we had a one-to-one fairly intensive session on cutting and making dovetail joints, then it was over to Pete's for a scrumptious lunch laid on by Pam, with some more 'shop activity in the afternoon...fabulous!
One of the things that came out of the day was a suggestion from Paul following on from our very successful morning...why didn't I open up this sort of tuition to one and all? The logic behind the idea is very straight forward in that there are loads of places that will offer workshop courses (you only need to have a quick flick through the back end of Furniture & Cabinetmaking to see them) but they all last for several days and can be prohibitivly expensive which might put them out of the financial reach of many keen woodworkers. In addition, Paul pointed out that in the 'good old days' years ago, woodwork was taught to pupils at school and unfortunatly, that don't happen any more, with the result that someone wishing to learn has either got to do a lot of reading and make pretty slow progress (and lots of mistakes) or they can circumvent the process and go on a course. So what could I offer?
My background is that I was one of the last of the old fashioned woodwork teachers in main stream education ( I was at the 'chalk face for 20 years) and I have a large (20x12') fully equiped 'shop and would be able to offer intensive tailor made, one day courses (on a Saturday) to suit the needs of the individual. I also spent some time in a couple of professional cabinet shops so know the ropes from a full-time makers perspective. I've been making stuff now (mostly cabinet making) since the early 70's so I've got few years experience tucked away. The days activities would out of neccessity be based on the correct and safe use of hand tools at the bench for planing, joint cutting, tool maintenance and tuning, veneering, laminating, in fact almost anything that the student wanted and a programme could be designed to suit the individual's requirements. Although I've got most, if not all the power tools in the 'shop, anyone visiting for the day wouldn't be allowed to use them but the correct use and procedures for each could be taught...I've been using a table saw for over 30 years now and still have all my digits! Anyone coming from further afield is welcome to stay overnight (at a small aditional charge) on Friday in our spare bedroom so that a complete days 'shop activity can be undertaken on Saturday, say from 8.30 to about 5.00pm. Meals, teas and coffees, of course would be included on the day starting off with a decent cooked breakfast for anyone staying overnight.
When we discussed the idea at the MiniBash, all thought it was a pretty interesting idea and one worth pursuing, so if anyone is interested, either leave a comment here on the Blog or PM me on UKW.


Anonymous said...

The dovetail session was excellent, Rob. I thought I knew how to cut dovetails but you taught me so much! Your methodology really is very sound - it taught me why you are able to get it right first time, every time and why, for many of us, it's rather hit and miss!

A great day.


Paul Chapman

archiphile said...

Sounds Like a wonderful idea. I wish that I lived a little closer to you guys, Boston is quite a ways away from you, and since air fair is so expensive, I think that I will hop the train into town and look into some tuition at one of the local schools here.