Monday, March 31, 2008

Some updates...

We've been doing fine tuning to some of our classes this session. (I have to remind myself we're a little over two weeks in to the session but......)

Introduction to Furniture Design

We've renamed the "Quick Mockups for Furniture Design" to "Introduction to Furniture Design" - this is a better name for the course and reflects the true intent of the course. We're still going to make mockups - 'cos it's way too much fun. Check it out here

Making S'Klallam Carving Knives

We're rethinking our approach to the Traditional crafts program and are reducing the price point. We want to encourage folks to learn and appreciate these traditional skills.

The knives that Jeff and Jerry make are amazing carving tools. These bent knives are double sided and cut in both directions. You can use them two handed or single handed. The curved back of the knife can ride on the wood adjacent to the cut for silky smooth cuts. And you can shift a lot of material fast!

Learn how to make these knives with Jeff and Jerry and then come back in the Summer to learn how to use them.

Check the website for details

Victorian Millwork: Interior and Exterior

I finally managed to pin Seb Eggert down and we finished planning the Victorian Millwork course.

Wow! We're going introduce you to the anatomy of a Victorian House and then visit three primo examples at the Fort and in town. This will be like the Victorian House Tour but with a real expert! On the second day we'll take a close look the details of assembling the millwork and, hopefully, each student will make a replica Victorian bulkhead.

Plus we're reducing the price to reflect that this is a largely lecture and visit course.

More here

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Summer Schedule 2008 / Course Algebra

I've posted an outline of the Summer 2008 Class and Event Schedule here. We're adding some longer 2 week courses and inviting a number of guest instructors. It looks pretty exciting to us!.

The longer courses (week or more) are pretty much set in concrete and are unlikely to change. The shorter courses and events we're still working on so expect some change there (scribbled in quicksand).

An inevitable question is: "How do the longer courses relate to the one day courses?". Hence the second part of the title "Course Algebra".

A partial solution follows (how could I resist?) to help you differentiate and integrate....

We've started to consider most of our day courses to be skills courses. Our longer courses are project based but integrate many of the skills courses.

For example in our summer schedule we have a two week "Introduction to Woodworking" course. We think of this as including:
  • Basic Woodworking with Handtools class
  • Sharpening Chisels and Planes
  • Router Basics
  • Introduction to the Tablesaw, Bandsaw, Jointer and Planer
  • The poorly named Quick Mockups course (this will be called An Introduction to Furniture Design in the future).
  • Some finishing stuff (which we have yet to define)
  • Assembly and glue ups
  • Some background lectures on how wood gets to the lumberyard - this is covered in our "At the Lumberyard course"
So if you've taken all the above courses in the day long instances we'd consider you qualified to take our "Introduction to Traditional Furniture Course" in September.

What I'm struggling to say is that we're offering a fairly full education in woodworking and the skills required to build basic furniture in two forms: The Algebraic (where you stitch it together over time) or the Integrated two week form.

The two week form requires a greater commitment in time - it'll probably be a wash in tuition costs but I (we) think that the immersion for the two weeks has great value.

Next question: I've taken a couple of the one-day skills courses - won't I lose out if I take the two week course?

Answer: No - we can challenge you to further develop your skills. While other students struggle to master something you've already learnt we'll up the ante extend your skills further.

We're working on a way to acknowledge accomplishment as you take multiple courses at the school and demonstrate your skills. We may ask you to show a piece at a show in the school or work something out where we recognize your accomplishment in some material way (handwave, handwave).

We're looking to do something similar with cabinetmaking. Watch for a future post.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Turning and Turning.....

We've discussed including a turning program in the School since our very first discussions about starting the school. A week or so ago we got a nice letter from the American Association of Woodturners (aka AAW) awarding us a grant that will allow us to get three or four small benchtop lathes. We're planning on getting these after we open the second room at the school.

We're also talking to Bonnie Klein about teaching a course in the Fall. Bonnie is a master turner plus she invented the mini lathe and a threading jig.

We've also been offered a very large lathe and we'll be pursuing that over the next few months.

If you are interested in turning and learning more please let us know. You can use the website to contact us or you can post comment to this post.

I guess somebody likes us....

We found this in our mail boxes this morning:

"Good Morning!
Well, I finally have a few minutes this morning to bang-out a few comments about my very recently completed Router Basics and Quick Joinery classes. John and Tim, you two were indeed outstanding in every respect and are well on your way to major successes in my opinion. I enjoyed every minute of both days experiences which were filled to the brim with everything from safety, tool usage, techniques, abundant world-class advice and expertise, humbled humor, new tools and most of all ~ from two terrific Gentleman Artisans. We students were so fortunate to share such expertise.

As a new weekend woodworking warrior, I was very impressed with your approach to the organization and teaching styles of your classes, the content, presentation and quiet gentlemanly partnership you both displayed in working together on our many hands-on projects. Your hands-on proper tool usage, with both yours and ours, is an absolute must for newby's like me, to insure future retention of those all-important ten digits!

In looking at what I've learned (learnt. . . sorry!) and in seeing the advanced schedule of future classes with Tim, I find it hard to make intelligent new suggestions worthy and valuable to everyone. In that regard however, I suggest some future segments to be oriented to the new woodshop builder. I am a newby who has struggled with the best way to build and set up a woodshop for optimum tool usage, tool selection, dust control, noise, future usage, storage, organization, etc., etc.

Lastly, my humble "Thanks" to John, Tim and Jim for finally bringing this outstanding opportunity to the North Olympic Peninsula. Your teaching styles, location and shop tools and equipment are superb in my opinion, and all with imparted knowledge being consumed like drinking and savoring fine wine! I am excited and enthusiastic about future classes I plan to take. Please keep up your outstanding work Gentlemen, and Thank You!

Dave Munro
PS: If you would like me to share this writing with the media, please let me know."

We're humbled and honoured by Dave's comments. Thank you Dave!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Creating a Cottage Home with Jim Tolpin

Jim Tolpin wrote the book "The New Cottage Home" way back in 1997-8. Jim has developed more insights and had more experience since then. Catch up on his thinking at our evening lecture on Thursday March 27th at the Power House (Building 315) at Fort Worden (directions are here).

The presentation starts at 6:30pm. The Q&A session is expected to finish by 8:30.

Admission is $8 which we'll collect at the door.

This is an expanded version of the presentation Jim made back in the middle of January at the Jefferson County Library in Port Hadlock.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

How to use this blog

Blogging comes pretty naturally to some folks and less so to others.

We're using this blog to communicate less formally than our website. You'll see notices & reminders of events and other news from the School.

You can also respond to the post and start a conversation with Jim, John or myself. All you need to do is click on the Comments Link you'll see beneath this post. This will bring up a web page where you can praise us, nag us or throw a brickbat (all are fair). At the moment I have any posts to the blog moderated. This means that I check the post before it ends up on the blog.

Why? I do this to filter out obscene posts and a lot of spam posts from link farms in China (places that splat links over blogs in the hopes of fooling Google in to giving the site a higher ranking). I generally check email and post notifications early in the morning and in the evening so hopefully any delay in posting will be short. This hasn't been a problem yet but I'd consider switching it off if people want to comment - let me know.

You can also use your browser to automatically get notifications of new posts on the blog. You can subscribe to RSS feeds.

What is RSS you ask? RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. Simply put whenever a blog entry is created the server software updates an RSS file for this blog

This the RSS icon (don't click this - it is only an image).
In Firefox you'll see this icon in the Address Bar. Click on it to add it to your Live Bookmarks.
In Internet Explorer the icon appears in one of the toolbars - click to add it to your Feeds.

When your browser loads it quickly checks the RSS files and updates the bookmarks - so you can see when a post has been made to the blog.

Try it out and be the first to see new news from the Woodschool.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stump the Stooges Tonight (March 13th)

Don't forget to come out to the School tonight and try to Stump the Stooges.

We're looking forward to tangling with those woodworking challenges. Anything wood related is fair game.

See you there. We start at 6:30pm. Directions on the website.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Wow - What a welcome!

The three of us, somewhat exhausted, sat down this morning to take stock of our Grand Opening. We reckon that well north of 200 people attended our Grand Opening. Folks came early and left late. There was real excitement in the air. Lots of interest from potential students and potential tutors (everything from longboard surfboards(!) to turning). The building is ready - now we need to get ready .

We must extend our thanks:
  • Jeff and Jerry Monson (from the Jamestown S'Klallam) for a wonderful display of carving and carving tools. Jeff showed a fully carved mask and was hard at work on an Orca (I think). I know that several woodworkers were buying blades from them. You'll be able to learn knifemaking from them in late March or the middle of April.
  • Greg Kossow (currently baking on a beach in Hawaii) sent some wonderful Windsor chairs and a prototype of a chair that may be the basis for a chair making course in the summer.
  • A very big hand of thanks to Will O'Donnel of the Mt Townsend Creamery for a wonderful donation of cheese which we paired with bread from Pane D'Amore.
  • To our wives and families for keeping the event fuelled ( I think there was only one emergency run for more wine).
  • To our local papers - the Port Townsend Leader and the Peninsula Daily News for wonderful stories and pictures last week. Thanks Patrick and Jennifer.
  • To the Fort Worden Staff and management for helping us through all the hurdles to get ready.
  • Finally to everybody who attended the Grand Opening - your enthusiasm for our venture really made our day.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Grand Opening today....

We're holding an Open House at the Old PowerHouse at Fort Worden to celebrate the (almost) completion of our bench room / class room. Please join us between 4-8:00pm today.

You can see the new space, the work benches and meet us.

We look forward to seeing you there.

See our website for directions.