Back to School, Again

In a few days, I'll be headed to North Carolina for five days of woodworking at The Woodwright's School. The class will be taught by the legendary Roy Underhill, host of PBS' The Woodwrights Shop, and I can't wait. Anyone who's seen the show, or had a chance to meet him in person, has testified that Roy is a grade-A, larger than life, character, and is as passionate as he is knowledgeable about traditional woodworking. Everyone who has met him has countless stories of Roy's humor and good nature, and I'm looking to have a few of my own.

I actually met him once, by chance, when on a driving vacation in the spring of 2012. My wife and were headed down to Charleston, SC, and along the way (I) thought we'd drop in see Roy's school in Pittsboro, NC. I'd wanted to check out the goods in the hand tool store that is above the school as well. While meeting up with Ed Lebetkin who runs the store, in walked Roy, and I got to shake hands. It was too sudden, and al little too awkward, to whip out a camera, so I had to settle for posing next to the cardboard cut out in the stairwell (right). 

This time, I'm going for five days of "Benchwork Week - Joinery & Cabinetry with Roy Underhill" . Lots of great content there, and I'll be drinking in every bit of it. This is the second chance in a month to learn directly from a master craftsmen. As I proceed on my journey of learning woodworking, having this chance to learn from one of the masters is a dream come true. I'm glad I was able to get the time and money to make this happen

And I'll be sure to get a picture or two as well.

Back To School

Last week I got a chance to attend my first formal woodworking class. And by "formal", I mean casual and relaxed. Also by "formal", I mean a class taught by a real master, Jeff Miller. To further my learning, I had decided that I would try to learn from as many teachers as possible, time and money allowing. With Jeff Miller just a few miles away, that makes the time and money part pretty bearable. 

Over the last few years, I had read articles by Jeff Miller in the various woodworking magazines, but only recently figured out that he is located in Chicago, just a few miles away. I saw from his site that he offers furniture making workshops. While an internet connection and some woodworking magazine subscriptions lets a self-taught woodworker like me see or read about fifty ways to do anything, being able to be taught in person, from a master craftsman, is priceless. Even better, "priceless" meant $100 for a one day class.

So I jumped at the chance.

I signed up for the "Dovetail Workshop", a class on, surprise, cutting dovetails, using both hand tool methods, and a table saw jig/bandsaw method. And just to nerd out even more, I bought his recently released book, The Foundations of Better Woodworking, which was a great read that really helped me prepare for what Jeff might be teaching. It wasn't any sort of requirement, but I wanted to make sure I would get the most out of the experience. It turns out, the book is well worth it by itself.

The class itself was a blast. There were about five students in all, most of whom had been students of Jeff's before. We met in Jeff's shop, and each had a bench to work on. Jeff was clear, detailed, and a great teacher. In the 5 or so hours of the class, we had ample time to work on the various exercises he had us do,  and receive critiques on our technique and progress. I was able to pepper him with questions which he graciously answered. I really got great value out of the experience, and can't wait to go back for more.