Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hand Cut Mortice & Tenons - Fall 2011

By hand....
Developing this class formalized our (or rather Jim's) thinking on cutting mortices by hand. The notion of tool slaving (using sets of hand tools of the same dimension together - 1/4 mortice chisel with a 1/4 plough plane) can quickly form strong and accurate joinery is compelling. 

Mortice chisels really do a good job of chopping a mortice quickly - may be just three end to end passes. Tenon saws do a great job of creating the tenon. The router plane and the shoulder planes make quick work of clean up. 

Need to make your own pins? A batoning chisel and a dowel plate work remarkably well.

Beginning Furniture Making - Fall 2011

Happy graduates
We're coming to realize that Beginning Furniture Making is our most comprehensive single introduction to woodworking and that any graduate of this class is ready, with a little practice, to participate in any other of our classes. 

In this most recent class we began to explore more of Jim's proportional design techniques more and you can see the results in the above image. Simple whole number rations of dimensions just look good.

This was also pretty hand tool intensive - even though we went through a full introduction to machine dimensioning!

The biggest request from the three students - "Can you make the class longer?"

Laura Tayne's Tea Box

Laura Tayne's Tea Box
It's somewhere between awe-inspiring and gob-smacking (a fine anglicism) what our students manage to make after our classes. (We're not going to claim full credit because Laura has been working hard on her own to learn woodworking.) This is an elegant tea box that Laura finished after taking Jim's Hand Tool Heaven last summer.

I'm really stuck by the gorgeous handles/legs and hand made hinges. Congratulations Laura!

Some more views of the Tea Box:

Hand Cut Dovetails - Fall 2011

Jim Tolpin's Demo Dovetails
We've been further developing our ideas about hand tool woodworking - every time we teach a class we learn more about the techniques. The questions students ask force us to clarify our thinking and understanding of the theory and practice. Dovetails are a case in point - Jim's exploration of the artisanal techniques of design and layout lead quick ways of using dividers to figure out the spacing of dovetails - no need for maths here.

We've also been looking at the difference a sharp saw makes - Jim spends time before these classes making sure that the saws are really sharp. Sharpness and quick layout - both factors significantly increase the efficiency of working with hand tools.

Now the slideshow:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Bentwood Boxes with Steve Brown - Fall 2011

John Vonpronssen's Carved Box

I've always been amazed by the traditional bentwood boxes used by the First Nation's people of the Pacific NW both for the way they are constructed and the gorgeous carved and painted exteriors.

This class was two masterclasses in one. First, in making a bentwood box from some beautiful clear tight grained yellow cedar. John Vonpronssen demonstrated a router based jig and bought along a magnificent steaming box. Second, was Steve's tutorial in form line and design. Just look at the slideshow to get an idea of how the Thunderbird design evolved as Steve drew it on the board.

We'll consider offering this class in a longer form in the future - it was clear that the students  also wanted to carve the surfaces under Steve's guidance and there is not enough time in the weekend. Watch this space.

Incredible Generosity!

Sometimes you just get knocked sideways! During a class, this summer, one of the students (who prefers to remain anonymous) asked us if we could use some hand planes. He had a collection that he'd like to donate.

Last week we got a call and the donor arrived at the School on Saturday. It took about 10 minutes to unload the van. We received a total of 55 hand planes all in amazing condition. We now have almost a full set of hand planes for each workbench and can consider how to help out intensive students to build up a tool kit.

Our hats off and deep gratitude. Thank you sir!

We are keen to build a reference collection of old tools. With the School's 501(c)3 status we can recognize gifts in kind at a realistic market rate. Please contact if you have some interesting old tools in great condition - we'll make sure they have a great home.

Port Townsend Woodworker's Show - November 2011

Ron Talbert's Rocking Crib
The Port Townsend School of Woodworking is a sponsor and co-organizer of the Port Townsend Woodworker's Show every November. This year's show was the 7th since we revived the show in 2005 and got a great turnout. A little lower than last year but, I think, a higher level of engagement - more people had heard of the school and came to check us out. It was great to see many alumni there and  hear their stories and answer their great questions about the 2012 schedule.

We reduced the number of exhibitors this year to give everyone more space to display. I was very encouraged by Jaap Romijn's new designs for for built from local harvested and dried wood. The pieces are at the beginning of the slideshow below.

For the 2012 show we're asking all exhibitors to include a piece made of local wood. My personal interpretation of local is within 25 miles but the rest of the Splintergroup are happier with an "abutting counties" definition of local.

Click on the slideshow for high resolution images.

Heck of a Halloween Sunset

On Halloween I stepped out of out Office into the most amazing evening light. And since I keep the camera at hand.....

Enjoy the slide show. We're so lucky to be based at Fort Worden where nature blends with the beauty of the old buildings. Don't forget to bring your camera when you visit the School - sunrises are pretty spectacular too!

Carving Bowls and Ladles with Steve Brown - Fall 2011

Another great carving class from Steve Brown. There was a lot of enthusiasm in this class and, how shall we put this politely, borrowing of work for the class photo. Mike Cable (at right) is holding a magnificemt serving bowl carved by Steve.

This group is keen to organize a carving group to work together on projects for a day or so each quarter. The School will host the first of these events in March - watch the school's website for details.

Bowl Turning with Bonnie Klein - Fall 2011

Bonnie Klein made her annual pilgrimage to Port Townsend in the middle of October. The classes are well attended and great fun. We're having Bonnie back in September 2012 for her first intermediate class and another round of bowl turning. Inspired by folks, in this class, bringing along freshly felled Holly we invite the next round of students to explore using local wood for turning.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Another take on Garrett Hack's Side Table Class

It's humbling to have gifted photographer capture the atmosphere in the bench room during a class. Eric Vance has done a phenomenal job and we're incredibly grateful to him for sharing these images.

These are the best pictures I've seen of Garrett Hack and they really do give you a idea of his wonderful  sense of humour. Plus in Eric's words:
"All the masters I've been privileged to know have a common trait - No secrets. It takes a secure person to give freely of hard won knowledge. And it did start to look like Garrett is a bit of an imp."
 Thanks Eric! (That's Eric at the right in the class picture at the end of the slideshow)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Design and Build a Side Table - Garrett Hack

Garrett Hack breaks down and uses a pocket hole jig. Disaster declared in the world of hand tool woodworking!

Not really Garrett is demonstrating how a properly set up pocket hole and screw can be used to hold on the top. He promptly goes on to show how to use a drill and gouge to achieve the same effect.

As ever it is a delight to have Garrett and his wife Carolyn visit Port Townsend. Lots of fun and good conversation. A big hand to Dick Preston for providing them a home for their visit.

We're negotiating Garrett's return in 2012 and we're hoping to offer his Demilune Table class in either July or September 2012. Watch the website for details.

Now the slideshow:
Click through on the slideshow to download images

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Jim Tolpin, Drawknives and Port Townsend

One of our perennial jokes about living in Port Townsend is that "Life is tough in Port Townsend , but somebody has to do it!".

Jim Tolpin follows up his article on Drawknives in a recent edition of  Wooden Boat Magazine with a series of demonstrations at the 2011 Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend. We're sharing some pictures of the demonstation and some general pictures of the Wooden Boat Festival. For me this was the best year ever.

Jim Tolpin's presentation:

Some real teaser pictures of the festival:

Dave Jeske and Steve Brown at the Wooden Boat Festival 2011

Dave Jeske of BlueSpruce Toolworks drove up from Oregon City to join us for the show. I was stunned by the quality of his chisels and marking knives.

Steve Brown presented on "Making and Using Adzes" and "Traditional NW Canoes - here are some pix from his canoe presentation:

Chris Schwarz at the Wooden Boat Festival 2011

The Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend this year was spectacular. Summer arrive for the week and the weekend. Clear blue skies, toasty sun and afternoon breezes. The Port Townsend School of Woodworking had a large booth next door to the Lee Valley booth. Lie Nielsen were in the Boat Shop on the other side of the marine. Handtool Haven!

Chris Schwarz gave great demo on Foreplanes and a keynote presentation on "Craftsmanship, Joinery and Anarchy" - both to rapt audiences.

Build a Sawbench with Chris Schwarz

We were very privileged to have Chris Schwarz be with us at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking for the first week in September and to join us at the Wooden Boat Festival.

These pictures will give you a great sense of what it is like to be in the class. I'm pretty sure that everybody finished their benches and most of the class stayed on the Handplane Essentials class too.

Darcy McNamara's Carved Mask

Steve Brown's classes on NW Coast Arts and toolmaking are a wonderful introduction to the traditional crafts of the NW Tribes / First Peoples. We've had a wide array of folks join us to take the courses at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking.

Darcy McNamara joined us for the first of Steve's classes at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking and helps out as a teaching assistant and is now helping us work on a fundraising plan. So I'm even more delighted to share these pictures of the mask she started in Steve's Carving a Nuu Chah Nualth Mask class. I think it is just gorgeous. These pictures don't quite do it justice as I got too close with the wide angle lense.

Thanks Darcy for allowing us to display the mask at the Wooden Boat Festival and for helping out at the booth!

New Benches

We've been planning to add more workbenches at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. Upping the class size for Chris Schwarz's and Garret Hack's classes was the incentive. We got the benches with the help of Ron and Michelle Hall of Woodcraft in Seattle.

Our thanks also to Gee Heckscher - board member extraordinaire for collecting them and bringing them back to Port Townsend. Now he wants them to stay in the back of his truck to improve the handling!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Weekend with George Walker

What a delight - we've had the pleasure of George Walker's company this week.

George and Jim Tolpin have spent a lot of time deep in discussion about their new book. From the hints and conversations I've had with them both - its clear that the book will provoke the woodworker to look hard at design as a skill (not an innate talent) that can be learnt, practiced and developed.

And then the class happened.....

These folks are converted (see slideshow below))! My thanks to them all for the enthusiasm, great ideas, great conversation!

(Click through on the slideshow to go to the Gallery and download full size pix)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

My boomerang won't come back!

Only if you haven't made it properly!

Last weekend six enthusiastic students took Matthew Hirsch'sWooden Boomerang Class - part of our Youth Woodworking Program for 2011.

The students glued up the "L" shaped blanks and drew on the patterns. We helped by bandsawing out the shapes. They carefully shaped the cross section of the boomerangs to aerofoils. Steam bending alllowed them to change the flight behaviour of the thrown boomerang. Not all boomerangs come back! Some are designed to knock the prey out of the tree.

Many thanks for Matthew for running such a great class.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Coopering Class - Another view

We love it when somebody other than us writes up a course at the School.

Sandra Carr and Joe Gelinas from Gelinas Carr Furniture in the Cowichan Valley, just north of Duncan on Vancouver Island, attended Steve Habersetzer's course on Coopering in late July.

Sandra made time in her busy schedule to write this wonderful article on their experience in the the class.

I love the coopered yellow cedar bath tub they made for a neighbour - and how they delivered it!

Sandra and Joe encourage visitors to drop by and visit. Giving them a call in advance helps.

Monday, August 1, 2011

30th Anniversary of the NW School of Wooden Boat Building

We relish the success of other local crafts schools and hope to emulate their long history!

Join the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding Saturday, August 6th, as we celebrate our 30th anniversary!
Our waterfront campus in Port Hadlock on Washington's beautiful Olympic Peninsula will be open all day from 9am to 6pm. To add to the festivities, the Puget Sound Chapter of the Traditional Small Craft Association is co-sponsoring this event with their 6th Annual Sail-In. Come on down and enjoy a day of boats, food and fun.
This very informal gathering is for people of all ages - everyone is invited. No need to RSVP, just show up and enjoy the day down by the water. To learn more, please click here.

Wildlife Habitat Boxes - July 2011

Birdhouses, bathouses, bee houses. Luxury condos for the birds!
An amazing array of avifaunal (h)abitation came from three extra-ordinary young men and a gifted teacher. Our deepest thanks to John Edwards for his sheer persistence and devotion to getting our youth program off the perch!

Coopering - July 2011

Another great coopering class from Steve Habersetzer. Two class pictures - with and with out headwear:

Click through to the Gallery to download printable versions.

Sandra (lower left) has promised a blog posting with her pix from the class. I'll post it when we receive it.
8/8/2011 - here's the link to Sandra's blog entry. Very many thanks Sandra!

Hand Tool Heaven - June 2011

This was the first Handtool Heaven to run since the publication of Jim Tolpin's "The New Traditional Woodworker". Jim wrote the book as he developed the course and redefined his relationship to woodworking.

As ever it is a joy to watch Jim's insight and influence affect the folks on the course.

Woodworking 101 for the WCC

We were honoured to be asked to teach members of the Washington Conservation Corps some basic and not-so  basic woodworking skills when they had their Spring Retreat at Fort Worden in the Middle of June.

John Marckworth and local master craftsman Greg Kossow put them through the paces.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Build a Handsaw with Mike Wenzloff - June 2011

This post should really be titled "I came, I sawed, I conquered."

From 2011-06-12 Build a Handsaw

It is always a joy to have Mike Wenzloff come and share his knowledge of handsaws at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking.

Mike will be back in Port Townsend for the Wooden Boat Festival in September 2011. He'll be joining us as one of the presenters at the Woodworking Stages during the Festival. We'll be posting more details soon.

Greene and Greene Details II with Darrell Peart - June 2011

Darrell inspires and encourages his students. I knew this was going to be a good class - more than half the students had arrived by 8:45 and there was a real buzz in the room before the class started.

From 2011-06-05 Greene & Greene Details II

We'll not be offering these Details classes in 2012 - but we're working with Darrel to offer a week long project class in the spring along with a weekend design class in the Fall - watch this space.

Woodworking for Women - June 2011

Matha Collins, yet again, inspires and enthuses a diverse crowd of women from around the country.

From 2011-06-04 Woodworking for Women

From Florida, Texas and Alaska - three of these women traveled to Port Townsend to take Martha's Woodworking for Women class. We're deeply honoured that they chose Martha and the Port Townsend School of Woodworking to take the class. It is also a great tribute to Martha's abilities as teacher that they gave us comments like:
"I was thinking about the class as I drove home and decided I did not add enough adjectives to my paper response. Actually Martha was terrific, wonderful, funny and great! Besides just learning the basics, she gave us tons of tips on how to make things easier or better. It was well worth the money.
I was so impressed at how your benches were set up, tools available, etc. 
It was a great experience and I will certainly be back for more."
Thanks for the encouragement Debbie.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Chairmaking with Tom Dolese - May 2011

These guys had a great week with Tom Dolese at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. This may look staged but watch the slideshow below - these guys got on well and had a lot of fun together. 

Plus they put on the best potluck lunch we've had so far. Russ's wife Nun is Thai and she prepared some amazing curries which, combined with great bread from Pane d'Amore, stunning cookies and good salads from the local Coop, created a wonderful array. And it was sunny during the meal!

Tom's energy and enthusiasm are contagious, The quality of the finished chairs was impressive. They decided that black for upholstery is the new cool.

Tom's shop assistant Abe joined them for a couple of days in the middle of the course. Thanks Abe!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dale Brotherton - Sensei

Dale Brotherton
Since Teresa and I acquired the Azumaya built in Dale's Japanese Woodworking class at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking - it became obvious that we need to put a floor in it. We had to go to Seattle this week so I arranged to pick up some Port Orford Cedar from Dale.

Dale has a large warehouse where he keeps his stock of wood and prepares the packages for the buildings he creates. Some of the lumber there was truly impressive. I also admired his Japanese built planer which has an infinitely variable feed speed! (Why don't other planer manufacturers pick up on that?). Really low speed for for those squirelly woods and high speed for initial rough milling.

However what most impressed me was Dale's workshop - in a mezzanine above the doors into the shop. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out what was different. Literally there were no machines in there. Just handtools - and all exquisitely maintained.

During his class Dale quoted  (more accurately paraphrased) Paul Discoe:
"To think of Zen in terms of woodworking, true concentration. Takes a deep knowledge of the materials, highly refined technical skills and speed achieved through dedicated practice.... and yet the concentration driving the practice is not "goal oriented". The aim instead is to be fully present in the act of working with wood."
 Dale lives those thoughts to the full. Hence my accolade of Sensei in the post title. Thank you Dale for the inspiration and the great wood!

Dale's Shop:

Greene and Greene Details I with Darrell Peart - May 2011

From 2011-05-20 Greene & Greene Details II
Another great class with Darrell Peart at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. A lot of happy faces!

Darrell is teaching his Details II class on June 3-4. There is still room in the class - you don't need to have taken Details I first. These are standalone classes.

Students - if you can a copy of the photo click on the link above and you can download a full size image.

Out of Square with Seth Rolland - May 2011

From 2011-05-20 Out of Square
Seth never fails to impress or inspire his students. All these guys achieved some impressive work in class and they know how to complete their projects when they get home. The slide show below will give you some idea of what they were trying to achieve. We also need to buy a bunch more clamps - even with Seth bring two large buckets of clamps - they ran short. Anybody got a bunch of clamps (in good condition) thay want to donate?

There was a clear request from the class for a two week version of Seth's Class at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. We're seriously considering it for next year.

Thanks to Phyllis Marckworth!

The School has marked several major transitions in the last month. We've moved into an office! We're hired a new bookkeeper and we got our 501(c)3 status - making us an official non-profit.

This was cause for a celebration and a big thank you to Phyllis Marckworth. Phyllis has worked as the unpaid bookkeeper through the last two years and had been tireless at keeping us in financial order. With the growth of the organization it made sense for us to hire a bookkeeper to work at the new office and let Phyllis get back to her  first love - Gardening. We're looking forward to seeing the new plants from Far Reaches Farm .

The Board deserves a big round of thanks too. A lot of hard work went into the 501(c)3 application and into setting up the board. This board really enjoys each others company as you can see:

Friday, May 20, 2011

Building an Azumaya with Dale Brotherton

Close to it's final resting place

In the five days, leading up to the Timberframer's Guild Western Conference, Dale Brotherton has been teaching a course on building an Azumaya (a "garden watching structure") at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking.

The course was attended by a mixture of timberframers, contractors and enthusiasts. The class has been a revelation to everybody. The students have been working hard and learning through creating the structure. Dale had spent much of the previous week preparing the package. At the beginning of the class the students helped Dale unload the Port Orford Cedar, used for the beams and rafters and Red Cedar boards used for the roofing.

It's a real tribute to Dale's skill that the students produced good tight joinery and that the structure went together smoothly Plus all the wooden members of the board were planed smooth - never has a timberframed building felt so good!.

As you'll see from the slide show Mother Nature turned fickle and started raining during the assembly session this afternoon. Our good friends at Centrum helped out by lending us some large poles used to support scenery - and delivering them to the School - I think we owe them a beer or two. These poles allowed Dale and the students to sling a tarp over the structure and keep working.

The Azumaya will be auctioned off at the Timberframer's Guild Auction on Saturday April 14th at the Fort Worden Commons. They worked with Dale to supply all the timber. My thanks to Joel McCarty and all the folks at the Guild for their help.

Update and clarification:
Pacific NW Timbers (based in Port Townsend) donated the lumber for the Azumaya to the Timber Framers Guild. The Guild in turn gave it to us for the course. We in turn donated the completed Azumaya back to the Timber Framers Guild for their auction on the Saturday Night of the Western Conference. At the Auction I was the only bidder for the Azumaya. My wife Teresa got a wonderful birthday present. My thanks to the 14 or so members of the Guild who help carry the Azumaya into our front yard. We hope to have it installed soon!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Final Few Days of the Foundation Class

(How did it take me so long to get around to posting these pix?)

The Foundation Class finished up on the first of April, 2011. The students were working hard to make the most of their access to the Port Townsend School of Woodworking to get their projects to the point where they could finish them at home.

Dianne finished her chair in the week after the course ended. Mark hauled his table home in a rental trailer - planning to make and fir the top at home. Justin's chest just needed to have the hinges installed. Melanya's roll top desk was close to structurally complete and we're looking forward to seeing pictures of the finished item. Alex finished the carcass of his tool chest and has been working on the trim. Kia's altar (I think of it as a Tokonoma) had it's base added two weeks after the end of the course.

All of the students on the course achieved levels of skill and tackled problems with aplomb and grace. Kia's single minded drive to use steam bent Madrona was inspirational - we're grateful to Charlie Smith of Marrowstone Island for coming up with a wonderful board out of his stash of stunning wood.

I'd like to thank all the students for putting their trust in us and making this first course such a positive stepp for the School. WE'll be offering the Foundation course Fall and Winter going forwards.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cabinetmaking April - May 2011

John Marckworth just finished up teaching two weeks of cabinetmaking at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. The students spent the first week learning the basics of cabinetmaking and the second week building and installing some kitchen cabinets for the dorm accommodation at Fort Worden.

The kitchen in 225 Down East (in Fort jargon) has been adopted by several of the partner organizations  at the Fort as preferred accommodation for some of their courses.In particular Madrona Mindbody Institute has spent a lot of time refurnishing, hanging new curtains and painting to make the space comfortable and welcoming. Out contribution is to let students get real world experience designing and installing cabinets as more than a workshop exercise. Everybody benefits.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mike Wenzloff is Teaching in June

I just got off the phone with Mike Wenzloff - he's in good spirits, much improved health and he's within a week of getting his backlog under control! Mike confirmed that he'll be teaching at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking on June 11-12, 2011.

Mike is one of the best saw makers in the country. In Mike's Build a Handsaw course you get to customize one of Mike's amazing saws (you get to choose what type and the type of wood for the handle) to fit your hand. Plus you get a master class in sharpening, metallurgy and the history of saw making. Jim Tolpin will be around to join in the discussions of saws and sawing.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sneak Peek into Jim Tolpin's New Book

To my great surprise Google Books has a pretty extensive preview of Jim's new book - "The New Traditional Woodworker" (see further below in this post).

If you are quick off the mark and can get over to the Port Townsend School of Woodworking tomorrow (Sat 16th April). Between 10-4pm we are holding an Open House with book signing by Jim. We'll have about 60 copies available and will take orders for more. The book is not available through Amazon or in the stores yet!

There are many other events and demos taking place at the School. Hope you can join us.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Carving a Nuu Chah Nulth Style Mask - Steve Brown

Steve Brown & Makah tyle Mask
Nuu Chah Nulth is a relatively new name for a group of First People's tribes who lived along the west coast of Vancouver Island and on the very North West of the Olympic Peninsula - the Makah. This grouping was formerly known as Nootkan - which name Steve believes is based on a misunderstanding by Captain James Cook.

Steve worked with the Makah People on the excavation at the buried village at Lake Ozette and the recreation of traditional canoes. In the picture above he is holding a picture of a Makah mask for which he carved a replica. The replica continues to be used in ceremonies while the original is carefully preserved.

This weekend Steve is teaching a class in mask carving at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. Many of the students are using adzes and bent knives they made in Steve's tool making class in March 2011.

Studio Visit: Tim Celeski - High End Outdoor Furniture

Tim Celeski's Small Outdoor Bench (this is a class project)

Tim Celeski generously opened up his studio as part of the Foundation Class's Bainbridge Island Studio Tour. Tim's shop, as is his work, is planned in incredible detail. Workflow and airflow were major factors in the layout of the shop. You'll see major extractor fans in the sanding area - that sawdust is headed for the great outside! Tim's inspiration comes from Greene and Greene - square plugs and other subtle details.

Tim selected, and has done an incredible job of filling, the niche of high end outdoor furniture. Furniture that is amazingly comfortable, functional and exists happily out of doors from Seattle to Southernmost California. See Tim's work on his website.

Tim's other passion is workbenches - he has run the WorkBenchDesign.net for many years. Read, enjoy, drool. We're still working on getting him to teach a workbench building class at the School. 2012?

Studio Visit: Cecil Ross, Bainbridge Island

Cecil Ross
Two things struck me as execeptional about our visit to Cecil's shop during the Foundation Class's tour to woodworkers on Bainbridge Island in March 2011. First: Cecil's work, that he builds in a small (two car garage) shop, is completely variable in scale from something you can hold in one hand to a 70' long conference table! Second: his work is driven by the wood - the character, patterns and shape of a piece of wood determine what the piece will be. Cecil will live with a piece of wood until it finally reveals what it has to become.

Cecil hails from South Africa and spent many years working as a boat builder in California and Port Townsend before scaling to making beautiful wood sculpture and furniture. I strongly encourage to visit his website or his shop and gallery.

Studio Visit: David Kotz - Coyote Woodshop

David's Bandsaw Mill
Next in our sequence of studio tour for the 2011 Woodworking Foundation Course students was another look at the process of getting boards from a tree with David Kotz at the Coyote Woodshop on Bainbridge Island.

David's love of the wood and his devotion to making sure that the trees he collects are recovered from his community. The more I see of his collection of wood the more I appreciate his commitment - there are some elm boards to die for in his showroom.

Studio Visit: Robert Spangler

Robert Spangler

As part of the Woodworking Foundation course we've been visiting local(ish) furniture makers. Bob and Birgit Spangler were incredibly welcoming to us. Bob's work and his shop were both inspirational.

Bob's shop is on the south of Bainbridge Island - one of the most spacious and comfortable I've seen.

The slide show will give you a sense of Bob's work - check it out in more detail at his website or at the NW Fine Woodworking gallery in Pioneer Square, Seattle.

Making Adzes and Bent Knives with Steve Brown

Adze-actly which one did you mean?

Steve Brown returned to the Port Townsend School of Woodworking to teach his tool making class. This was a full class of enthusiasts! Our thanks to Greg Blomberg of Kestrel Tools for sharing an announcement of the class with his mailing list.

Steve's teaching is inspirational and fun. There was instant community in the shop and a constant hum of enthusiasm.

Foundation Course - March Images

Neo waits for his dust mask before going into the machine room

March is the third month of the Twelve Week Woodworking Foundation Class at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. We bought in furniture makers and craftsmen from the community to share their experience with the students. Seth Rolland, Dan Packard and Tom Dolese (all are already on the School's Faculty) provoked and challenged as usual!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Alumni Notes: MXC in the Graphite World

Matthew Curry “MXC in the Graphite World” Opens at Northwest Fine Woodworking Gallery Thursday April 7th, 2011

Northwest Fine Woodworking proudly presents the fine art of Matthew Curry.   Matthew Curry’s detailed drawings in graphite and charcoal invite us to explore between the lines and experience other dimensions in fragments within the artist’s compositional cohesion. 
“My drawings are meant to evoke a sort of 4th dimension connecting the physical, spiritual and intellectual worlds.  My art is inspired by nature, malleable time, the sciences, geometry, laws of physics, and a healthy dose of jazz, fused with the joy of creating - a heady place to reside and dream.”
Matthew X. Curry studied at the Pratt Institute School of Architecture in New York.  His architectural training informs all areas of his multi-faceted career including interior and furniture design, as well as fine art drawings, woodworking and sculpture.  Prior to forming MXC Design in 1998, Matthew worked at Sony Pictures Entertainment and Orsini Design Associates in both NYC and later in Los Angeles.
Northwest Fine Woodworking is a cooperative gallery owned by Northwest-based studio furniture artists. Serving a national clientele this local cooperative opened its doors in 1980 and features the finest artisan woodwork available today.  For more information contact Northwest Fine Woodworking Gallery at 206-625-0542 or www.nwfinewoodworking.com.

(Matthew has attended several courses at the School and we're delighted to share his success)

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Second Life of Trees - Northwest Fine Woodworking

The Second Life of Trees
opens May 2011 

Seattle, WA
March 22nd, 2011-

Northwest Fine Woodworking presents The Second Life of Trees, a showcase of sculptural woodwork, studio furniture, and wearable wood fashion.

Wood has been resourced and restructured by humankind for as long as there has been a humankind. No other material can claim such an elemental relationship with our species. Northwest Fine Woodworking wishes to honor the gentle giants who give their lives for our higher purposes in The Second Life of Trees which opens May 5th, 2011 in conjunction with First Thursday Artwalk in Pioneer Square. The show will feature 14 new studio furniture designs from Northwest Fine Woodworking members as well as wood vessels, sculpture and wearable fashion from our regions acclaimed artisans.

Noteworthy studio furniture pieces in The Second Life of Trees showcase:

A low tansu made from a salvaged, "murdered" Oregon walnut tree. According to Bainbridge Island artist Robert Spangler, "it looked like the tree had been shot and also stabbed by some kid who nailed steps into it to climb up". An extruded beam typically used in commercial construction is repurposed into a distinctive base for Hank Holzer's Akira Coffee Table with a cantilevered elm burl top. Natural planks and spalted maple highlight the inevitable exposure to elements all trees endure in Rich Soborowicz' "Live Edge Credenza". Furniture maker and master wood carver John Thoe makes use of the leftovers with "Table Scraps" - carved wood spoons and other vessels.

Wood turning - making bowls and vessels - has a long history of practice and Jerry Kermode has influenced a whole new generation of lathe-work enthusiasts in his 40 years of perfecting the craft. Using reclaimed clear cut forest stumps from 150+ year old redwood trees, Jerry's wood vessels draw attention to the relationship man has with his natural surroundings, including the harsh reality of our forest management history.

Jo Marsh treks the trails of our regional forests in search of treasure where others would find only debris. Her driftwood sculpture designs convey ghost images of ancient natural spirits. Voids within the gnarled, whorled wood are moved to the foreground of each design after many months of cautious scraping, carving and buffing to reveal the magnificently grained soul within. Jo sees her work as a collaborative, "kismet-induced", endeavor with nature.

Mathew Curry's multidimensional wall hangings and free-standing sculptures utilize found objects and natural treasures to convey ideas personal to the artist. By playing with texture, light, material and meaning Curry's works engage visually and prompt greater exploration by touch.

Who would have thought...high fashion constructed of exotic wood? The Bustier de Bois by renowned marquetry artist Paul Schurch is an exciting move for the Santa Barbara-based furniture maker. The outfit is made with Zebrawood veneer with the lining, skirt and ties made from Silk-Hemp cloth and fasteners in brass and recycled Rosewood. The shoes are altered wedges, clad in Zebrawood veneer, secured by a handmade bead of brass and wood. Surprisingly flexible and comfortable, the dress bends easily for putting on and taking off. Bustier de Bois will be on display only for the month of May at Northwest Fine Woodworking before heading to Del Mar, CA for another exhibition.

Holzer Akira Coffee Table
Akira Coffee Table by Hank Holzer
made from extruded bean and elm

Equinox by Mathew Curry
"Equinox" by Mathew Curry
Jo Marsh in the shop
driftwood artist, Jo Marsh
Northwest Fine Woodworking is a cooperative gallery owned by Northwest-based studio furniture artisans. Serving a national clientele this beloved wood gallery opened its doors in 1980 and is one of the largest and longest running organizations of its kind in North America.

For more information contact Gallery Director, Sharon Ricci at 206-625-0542 or director@nwfinewoodworking.com

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Richard Inman - Vardo in Progress

Richard Inman is a graduate of the Port Townsend School of Woodworking's Build a Gypsy Wagon class and he started building this Vardo late last year (2010). Richard took trees from his property had them milled and is using a simple solar kiln to dry the wood.

Richard graciously showed the Foundation students round his shop and the Gypsy Wagon in th emiddle of March 2011.

There are two slide show here - the first show is of our vist and puts Richard's shop in context. Richard is also a metalworker and he made his own stove to go into the Vardo!

The second slideshow is Richard's log of progress on the Vardo. Enjoy them both.

Richard's Vardo Progress Gallery

(coming soon)

Steve Habersetzer - Gentleman Woodworker

We are truly fortunate to have Steve Habersetzer in our community and on the Faculty of the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. Steve is both a woodworker and organic farmer. His woodworking is deeply rooted in the belief that all work should be sustainable and non-toxic. He does not use plywood or complex finishes.

As part of the foundation course we take the students to visit various woodworkers in Port Townsend, Bainbridge Island and Seattle. Steve was the first place we visited in our second tour. Steve has long collected wood and. as part of a small group, salvaged wood from local trees in the Port Townsend area.

Steve's shop is perfect, the octagonal shape, the layout of tools and the wonderful collection of hand tools invite questions and conversations. Steve also solved the question of how to make handle for the draws on the side tables by offering the class sections of Madrone that can be sawn to length and scribed to fit!

Steve teaches coopering at the School in the Summer and gave us a quick demo - as you'll see in the video.

Steve's Shop and Farm

Steve Habersetzer Demonstrating a Cooper's Plane

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Double Sided Tape - getting it right

Product recommendation or shop tip? We hesitate to do product recommendations but sometimes we just need to share something that works really well for us in the shop.

Double sided or Double stick tape is an essential shop supply. A good double stick tape should be easy to use - tear or cut easily, grip well and be easy to remove, leaving no residue. Most hardware stores only stock carpet tape or double sided foam tapes - these have to be cut, the backing tape fought off and then the residue scraped off or scrubbed off with a solvent. No fun!

When I was at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship (back in 2001) I was introduced to Intertape's  591 Double Coated Paper Tape. You can easily tear it with your fingers, strip off the backing tape with a thumbnail and it peels off easily - leaving no residue. I've found it to be very reliable in the shop for holding temporary jig fixtures in place, making mockups or maquettes, putting up posters in the shop. The pressure sensitive adhesive is just that if you use a clamp to press down the two pieces you're joining you'll have a tough time prying them apart.

If you can share a case of tapes with your friends you can get it for about $4.80 a roll. Otherwise Google or Amazon are your friends.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Project roundup (or is that herding?)

At the beginning of week 8 the students have wrapped up their first couple of projects and it time for them to migrate home. So we herded the various pieces outside the Port Townsend School of Woodworking for a photo shoot. The weather barely cooperated we had just a couple of minutes before it started showering.

Steve Habersetzer inspired many of the students to use bends or crooks of madrone for the draw pulls.

You can click through on the gallery for larger images.

January & February Images from the Woodworking Foundation Course

It has been an absolute delight to have the Woodworking Foundation Course running at the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. The twelve week class started on January 11th and will run through April 1.

These images should give you a pretty good idea of what it is like being in the class. The first few weeks really focussed on building hand tool skills. In a subsequent post we'll show pix of the students with their projects.

Hopefully the pix of the potluck Friday lunches will encourage you to come along and join 12-1 on a Friday through April 1, 2011.

Also you should check out Dianne Robert's Blog about her experiences on the course - WoodWorkWoman.