Steve Hamlin from UKWorkshop came down to stay for a course over the last weekend, which proved to be very successful. I was initially a bit worried that I hadn't prepared enough work for Steve to do and that the pace of the two days would be too slow...after all, it's a fair lump of money to part with and I wanted to ensure that I gave 'added value' In the end, I needn't have worried as everything and more, that I'd planned, got covered.
Steve has been doing woodwork for about five years and wanted to learn the basics of bench work. He'd attended a week long course with Bruce Luckhurst earlier and found it reasonably good (he was able to learn about sharpening on that one) but as there are loads of students attending, a one-on-one, intensive and personal course is almost impossible to achieve, which is where the sort of course I can offer has to be of benefit as the Woodbloke Mark I eyeball was never very far away!
Working in strange surroundings and with different tools to the ones you're used to is always going to be a mite difficult to start with and Steve was no exception. He was naturally a little 'hesitant' to start with but this rapidly disappeared when he got stuck in and started to 'flow' with the work...difficult to describe, but best thought of as getting into a rhythm.
I'd organised the meals throughout the two days so that we started off with a really good cooked breakfast, sandwich at lunch time and a couple of tea breaks during the day, with a substantial dinner in the evening, after which we retired to the lounge for some serious 'woody talk' and a few bevies.
I got Steve do do several small test exercises on the Saturday, one of which was planing up a rough sawn piece of American Oak. I insisted that this was planed to exact sizes (set with a gauge) and was straight, true and out of wind. The only planes that Steve used for this was my woodie jack and the Norris AI. Sunday was spent in making a panel in American Cherry and again the panel material was planed from a rough board. All the mortise and tenon joints were cut by hand but I did the grooving and rebating on the router table.
I think I can say with some certainty that Steve got a huge amount out of the weekend and was amazed at just what progress he'd made. He's got a couple of decent projects lined up at home so now he'll be able to crack on and put into practice what he learnt at Wilton...an excellent weekend for all concerned.