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View mnorman's profile

Classes vs. tools

by mnorman
posted 02-08-2017 08:54 PM


43 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile

chrisstef

17935 posts in 3426 days


#1 posted 02-08-2017 08:59 PM

I think there’s a lot of avenues out there to learn from but, with that said, we all learn differently. Some need that hands on experience, others can watch a couple videos and create the Mona Lisa. My fear is without repetition and usage of the tools, whatever you learn in class may be lost until you can get some tools of your own. If it were me, id spend the money on tools and park my fat butt in front of the computer and watch Paul Sellers, Peter Follansbee and St. Roy until my eyes bled. But that’s just me.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View mnorman's profile

mnorman

6 posts in 1386 days


#2 posted 02-08-2017 09:02 PM

Thanks chrisstef. That’s kind of how I’m leaning. I already watch a ton of videos online and am eager to start cutting some dovetails.

View KelleyCrafts's profile

KelleyCrafts

3736 posts in 1158 days


#3 posted 02-08-2017 09:33 PM

Chrisstef brings up a really good point. You can learn this stuff but it really takes practice to be good at it. I second his hand tool guru list. I spend almost every night in bed before sleep watching a few YouTube videos or a Seller’s masterclass video. The Seller’s masterclass is like $15 a month. That’s like having a teacher right there and a slew of projects to watch. Each project is hours long broken into parts.

So yeah, that’s my revised recommendation. $15 a month with Seller’s and some hand tools.

-- Dave - http://kelleycrafts.com/ - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

View boatz's profile

boatz

92 posts in 2070 days


#4 posted 02-08-2017 10:25 PM

I did the school first route and it helped me prioritize what tools to get. But as Christef said there is no substitute for practice and repetition

-- You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find, you'll get what you need

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2359 posts in 2409 days


#5 posted 02-08-2017 10:46 PM

Depends on you. I do fine learning from reading as well as videos. Some need the instructor right there. If books work, find an old textbook for wood shop class, high school or vo tech. Covers all the basic tools and methods, hand and power. One advantage of these books is they arent trying to sell you something, a problem with a lot of web content these days.

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

609 posts in 1889 days


#6 posted 02-08-2017 11:29 PM

Woodworking is mostly an art and everyone will do-over a project at some point. I would make sure to divert some of your funds towards purchasing cheap kiln dried framing lumber or pine 1-by material at your local home improvement store. It’s typically cheap enough that you can “waste” it by building something just to learn how to do it.

There was a thread a few weeks ago about someone who had no experience, but had spent several thousand dollars on walnut boards so that he could build a table instead of buying the table from Pottery Barn. I cringed so badly reading that thread because it was a perfect example of what not to do.

On the other hand, if you buy $20 of cheap lumber at home depot, build a table, and even if it falls apart, you’ve learned a lot and hopefully had fun and you probably spent less than one evening at the bar.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

8297 posts in 3795 days


#7 posted 02-08-2017 11:33 PM

It really depends on you. I’m hands on and generally learn well on my own, so $750 would seem extremely expensive for a class. If you’re a reader, maybe some books for a lot less money would help….videos are a good idea too. $750 buys some nice tools!

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

2335 posts in 3363 days


#8 posted 02-08-2017 11:52 PM

Having that school near you is gold. However, I know people who took computer classes and didn’t have one to use at home and it really compromised their computer talents. As such, I’m with Chris.

I’ve been doing woodwork going into five decades. During that time, I’ve never worked for anyone else or taken a class. Until the Net, I relied on books and experimentation. After the Net, YouTube and other sources proved invaluable. For example, I’d never so much as touched a wood lathe, but was able to figure out how to turn a lot of fire wood into keepables and do it safely.

In short, I’d vote for tools. You can perfect your techniques with time and for free. Too, if the class is any good, it will still be around on down the road.

One more parting thought: If you have a school near you, it is likely you also have a lot of hobbyist woodworkers. Consider running a craigslist ad.

If you were to start a woodworking hobbyist association, many publications allow you to post announcements for free. You can hold the first few meetings at the library or other places that allow associations to meet there for free.

View JCamp's profile

JCamp

986 posts in 970 days


#9 posted 02-09-2017 12:13 AM

I’d go with the tools first. I’m new to hand tools too. I just started by buying a tool An cleaning it up and learning to use it then buying another. My order was a old hand saw (I try to get the ones that are still in good shape) then a dovetail saw (It was new) then chisels (cheap set) then a few hand planes. I’m still learning an restoring the handplanes. I did also bug a few crank drills but that’s just cause they were to good a deal to pass up

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View Loren's profile

Loren

10477 posts in 4067 days


#10 posted 02-09-2017 12:51 AM

well, if you had $750 in sharpening equipment
and nice hand tools sitting on your bench,
you might be motivated to read an article
or two about sharpening and so forth.

btw, I’m a fan of the bow saw for dovetailing.
Never had a real western saw set up for
dovetailing but I do cut little ones with
a dozuki (it gets annoying with the larger
dovetails).

View mnorman's profile

mnorman

6 posts in 1386 days


#11 posted 02-09-2017 12:56 AM

Great feedback. Thanks everyone.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile

TopamaxSurvivor

18600 posts in 4095 days


#12 posted 02-09-2017 06:19 PM



Thanks chrisstef. That s kind of how I m leaning. I already watch a ton of videos online and am eager to start cutting some dovetails.

- mnorman


That is how I learned to cut them. Roy said tails first and I took it from there. But, I was raised on a farm without many power tools. Just depends on your experience and confidence level with them. Good luck.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View corelz125's profile

corelz125

752 posts in 1395 days


#13 posted 02-11-2017 01:14 AM

Go for the tools, figuring it out on your own teaches more than a class can. Also then you will learn how to fix your mistakes.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

8674 posts in 2996 days


#14 posted 02-11-2017 01:29 AM

I’d take the class first and absorb everything you can which will shorten the learning curve and you’ll start off

with good habits, knowledge, and a list of tools to get and in the proper order for things you want to make.

Have fun and good luck on your endeavors.

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

10858 posts in 1905 days


#15 posted 02-11-2017 01:49 AM



I think there s a lot of avenues out there to learn from but, with that said, we all learn differently. Some need that hands on experience, others can watch a couple videos and create the Mona Lisa. My fear is without repetition and usage of the tools, whatever you learn in class may be lost until you can get some tools of your own. If it were me, id spend the money on tools and park my fat butt in front of the computer and watch Paul Sellers, Peter Follansbee and St. Roy until my eyes bled. But that s just me.

- chrisstef

Ditto

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View isotope's profile

isotope

177 posts in 2043 days


#16 posted 02-11-2017 02:18 AM

Personally, I’d buy tools first, with a particular focus on sharpening supplies. You have to be able to sharpen your tools.

View AUswimKC's profile

AUswimKC

42 posts in 2367 days


#17 posted 02-11-2017 02:29 PM

I would buy tools first as well. And then I would wait for a popular woodworking sale and buy some DVDs for 50% off. One good video I have heard about is Schwarz making the tool chest. I think it’s like 4 hours.

I was lucky enough to take a Schwarz class, and while I learned an immense amount of information over the week, I am not sure a true beginner would get much from it. I think there is a baseline knowledge that comes from trying yourself first.

View Andre's profile

Andre

2669 posts in 2225 days


#18 posted 02-11-2017 09:36 PM

My 2 cents would be depending on your interest in either hand or power tools take a class to try and figure out what you like or want to do? I’ve built house, and all types of desks tables bookshelves an stuff but until I actually took
a real course i had no real direction. Even now I do not only do one thing, always something new to learn or try which means different tools!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View GlenintheNorth's profile

GlenintheNorth

244 posts in 955 days


#19 posted 02-12-2017 01:12 AM

I was leaning toward class first, but the practice part trumps the formal bits. The online stuff from Sellers, Richard Maguire, and others is gold.

Spend the bux on the tools this year, do the class next year. You will probably get much more out of the class that way, too.

-- MFia-made man. But that doesn't mean I don't dig my 45. Minneapolis/St. Paul, burbs.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile

OggieOglethorpe

1276 posts in 2529 days


#20 posted 02-12-2017 04:57 AM

As an early beginner, I’d take the class sooner than later…

You’ll save more than $750 in poor tool purchases in early years. I’ll bet most recommending tools haven’t actually taken a well regarded class themselves.

View Kelly's profile

Kelly

2335 posts in 3363 days


#21 posted 02-12-2017 05:42 AM

My near on fifty years of converting lumber and such to sawdust and other things says different. You just need to start with the basic tools, whether power or hand. Once you have them, you can learn to use them. All the training in the world will not make you an expert on what you don’t have.


As an early beginner, I d take the class sooner than later…

You ll save more than $750 in poor tool purchases in early years. I ll bet most recommending tools haven t actually taken a well regarded class themselves.

- OggieOglethorpe


View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

10858 posts in 1905 days


#22 posted 02-12-2017 05:44 AM

Well. Just saying. You take the classes. Then you come home and practice with crap tools because you spent your money on classes and you can’t afford to put anything you learn to the test even if you can understand it.

Just throwing out a point. That’s all.

And the internet is a wonderful wonderful thing for is woodworkers nowadays.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View WhoMe's profile

WhoMe

1568 posts in 3663 days


#23 posted 02-12-2017 06:04 AM

A slightly different point of view. That is also a kind of compromise.
Here in so cal, cerritos college has a real good woodworking program. Every semester, i see several students come in with a list of required tools for a semester long hand tool class.. From what i can tell, that list costs each student between $250 and upwards of $1k in tools. It is an extensive list and can vary not just in what tools the student already has but also what quality of tools they are looking for. This doesn’t seem to take into account what experience the student has. This is also assuming that the student will use these tools after the class and not go in another direction in woodworking. A bit expensive to start, IMO.

Is there some kind of syllabus and tool list for that class that you can obtain? This would give you a good idea of what tools you would need and what you would learn.

Then if you then buy some of the tools needed for the class and do like others recommended, buy cheap practice wood, watch videos and start to learn some of the topics from the syllabus, you might be better prepared for the class.

And when you get around to taking the class, you are concentrating more on learning new skills and improving your current skill set / techniques and not concentrating on learning much of it from scratch. I would think that would be a good course of action.

-- I'm not clumsy.. It's just the floor hates me, the tables and chairs are bullies, the wall gets in the way AAANNNDDD table saws BITE my fingers!!!.. - Mike -

View realcowtown_eric's profile

realcowtown_eric

617 posts in 2356 days


#24 posted 02-12-2017 06:11 AM

750 is ok if you can afford it, but it would also buy you a whack of user tools .

My life circumstances (bylaw officer visit) had me looking for access to cabinet saw, and I found the local manifestation of the maker movement so I joined it. Cost 50 bucks (cdn (-about 35us$/month)

and what did that get me? access to woodbutchery shop, welding shop, 3d printers, laser engravers, welding shop, and a whole bunch of really pleasant geeks from teenagers building robots to retired welders and everything in between. And I forgot to mention the machine shop. Lathe/milling machine courses on the agenda /cost 10 bucks

Yep thee were a few hoops to jump through and that is taking time.

So lets see….a saw moves back and forth and cuts
a Chisel you either push genly or pound
a sharp plane (scareey sharp mthodology on youtube for free)
A barace and bit is self explanatory
a good square and marking gaugeare inexpensive and also self explanitory

If the maker movement had been around in my earlier days, I woulda bin there

So for me, 750 bucks buys 16 months of membership in this amazing group, access to facilities 24/7 abd courses cost 10-20 bucks if not free

or I could spend in on a handtool course that would undoubtedly be flogging the instructors favorite expensive tools.

To me .the Calgary Protospace membership was a no-brainier, so I’m gonna suggest you scope out local maker=movement co-ops around you. You might be pleasantly supersized. I wish I had done so sooner

Eric
in Calgary

-- Real_cowtown_eric

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

12842 posts in 2799 days


#25 posted 02-12-2017 08:45 AM

Two things you get from classes, they answer questions you didn’t know to ask; and you get live feedback on your technique.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View example's profile

example

1 post in 888 days


#26 posted 02-12-2017 11:05 AM

I did the school first route and it helped me prioritize what tools to get. But as Christef said there is no substitute for practice and repetition

http://waterdamagerestorationtips.com/

View RandyinFlorida's profile

RandyinFlorida

257 posts in 2487 days


#27 posted 02-12-2017 12:42 PM

Living five hours from any place to take classes I envy you. I would love to take a simple one day class on using a hand plane or cutting dovetails. Let alone a five day course.

-- Randy in Crestview Florida, Wood Rocks!

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

117655 posts in 3996 days


#28 posted 02-12-2017 12:58 PM

As a woodworking instructor, I see the value in investing in the class first, the Port Townsend Wood School has a great reputation and one of its owners/ teachers is Jim Tolpin a writer ,instructor and teacher that has experience dating back to the 70s.Given that hand tools cost far less than tons of power equipment you should be able to stock up on the hand working essentials much quicker than outfitting a shop where just a decent table saw will cost 4 times what a quality set of hand tools will cost. If you want you could split the difference and take a shorter class “BY HAND AND EYE” which is a two day class @$250 and still have funds left over for some tools.this would help with your selection of what tools will be used the most plus taking a class from one of the best in the business.

View Logan Windram's profile

Logan Windram

347 posts in 2881 days


#29 posted 02-12-2017 03:05 PM

You will get a ton out of a class. You’ll spend a day or two just getting your planes and chisels into ideal working order. To me, having someone teach you how to have tools tuned, flat and sharp is a step many on their own don’t get right for a long time. Without the mere basics of sharp everything else is an frustrating mess.

My 2 cents on beginners tools: Low Angle Jack (LN 62) or Jack #5, LA Block Plane, Quality 5 Set Bench chisels, Good quality dovetail saw….. those get you almost anywhere, but almost basic honing guide, basic marking knife, basic marking gauge, good quality double square, bevel gauge, 4K/8k combo stone.

Get this stuff in order with a bench and good vice, your on your way…

View leafherder's profile

leafherder

1798 posts in 2371 days


#30 posted 02-12-2017 03:21 PM

In my opinion, hit the videos first, also do some research to identify the tools you want and need. Then hit the garage and estate sales – if you have a woodworking school in your area you probably have a lot of people who got excited to learn, took the classes, bought the tools, then gave up. If you know what you are looking for you can probably find some good bargains.

-- Leafherder

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Andre

2669 posts in 2225 days


#31 posted 02-12-2017 03:54 PM

Forgot one of the most important thing from my time in a class, new friends who share the same interests?
Also found this group which Could be either Good or Bad?

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View LNguy's profile

LNguy

2 posts in 888 days


#32 posted 02-12-2017 04:21 PM

I’m in a similar position as you are. Tho’ I have a complete woodworking shop of power tools, I’ve only had the time to dabble until I retired. Now I have a strong desire to learn hand tools. If it is going to be a year between the class and buying tools, I would get tools and head to YouTube, otherwise, I would forget everything the class taught me. Maybe your school offers weekend classes that would be a lot cheaper than a week long class. I took a 6-hour sharpening class before getting my tools just to get a bit f experience. Then I found that Lie-Nielsen also has an excellent YouTube series with Deneb Pulchaski that continue to help me. I wish I had saved my money, as, for my needs, the videos do a great job. There are obviously many similar videos also available. My next class is 90 minutes away on Monday nights for the next 6 weeks on Intro to Hand Tool Joinery. It’s only $280 and there I hope having a live instructor vs video will really help me establish my technique. A bit more money, though a night of classes with a week to practice what I’ve learned before moving on will hopefully cut my time to actual projects vs. just watching videos. I hope you enjoy learning this as much as I am!

John

-- The memories of a man in his old age, are the deeds of a man in his prime. - Roger Waters

View GlenD's profile

GlenD

7 posts in 888 days


#33 posted 02-12-2017 04:37 PM

Overwhelmed yet?

I think most, if not all of us, could start over we’d different approaches. Self included.

Admittedly I did not read all the posts.

But here’s 40+ yrs worth.

Take classes. Any school worth a salt has a logical succession of skill level building courses.
Buy the recommended tools for the class. Tools are useless unless you know how to prepare and use them.
After the basics usually follows a project.
With more advanced classes comes the tools and skills to achieve the objective.
While most would agree to buy the best you can afford when it comes to tools. Even if you can’t afford gold plated planes and the like. You will learn how to get the most out of what you do have.

I believe the classes will cost you less in the end, on all fronts.

Cheers
glen

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Marcial

169 posts in 965 days


#34 posted 02-12-2017 04:49 PM



Forgot one of the most important thing from my time in a class, new friends who share the same interests?
Also found this group which Could be either Good or Bad?

- Andre


Marker spaces/groups and community colleges are great ideas. I haven’t taken any woodworking classes, but I also had the great fortune to have a proficient wood worker friend/mentor when I was starting out. I also worked c another friend on many remodeling projects over the years and picked up a lot from being around him. Even something as short as an hour at a local tool show (the Lie Nielsen rep at Northwest Woodworking Studio) was very instructional. Most humans- even the more introverted ones like me- benefit and need to be part of a common interest tribe. In the end though, quality tools and getting your hands dirty is the main thing.

View Dwain's profile

Dwain

596 posts in 4278 days


#35 posted 02-12-2017 05:11 PM

My two cents:

1) Get a tool list for the class you intend to take
2) Get the best possible tools from that list with the money you have
3) Learn to sharpen, care for and use those tools by use of the internet, magazines, books, what have you
4) Register for the class

You will have the tools, you will have a good idea how to sharpen and use them, and you will be ready to push that knowledge much much further than if you just attended the class first. You will get the most out of your tools and the class.

Seems like the best way to go.

-- When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there is no end to what you CAN'T do

View mnorman's profile

mnorman

6 posts in 1386 days


#36 posted 02-12-2017 05:42 PM

Thanks for the feedback everyone. At this point I’m leaning towards buying a few tools just to get started. I’ll search for instruction online or from DVDs as well as some shorter duration classes.

Based on what I’ve read/watched online as well as some feedback I’ve recieved from my local woodworking shops and from the Lie Nielsen hand tool event last summer, I think I’m going to go with a low angle jack and block plane and some quality stones. I already picked up a 4 piece set of Stanley Sweeheart chisels this last Christmas.

For the block plane, it seems pretty uninimous that the Lie Nielsen 60 1/2 is the way to go.

For the low angle jack plane, the Lie Nielsen seems to be the most traditional recommendation while the Veritas adds a few modern tweaks which a lot of people say make it the better plane to start out with. I’ll have to get my hands on both to see which one I prefer.

View mnorman's profile

mnorman

6 posts in 1386 days


#37 posted 02-12-2017 05:49 PM

Regarding my power tools, everything I have is used. I’ve kept an eye on craigslist for the last couple years and ended up with the following:
Saw Stop table saw 3hp professional
Grizzly 14” band saw
Grizzly 6” jointer
Grizzly 2hp dust collector
Dwalt 735 13” planer with mobile base
Porter Cable 2 1/4 hp router with BenchDog table
Dewalt 12” compound miter saw with mobile stand (bought new with my dad)

With these power tools combined with the hand tools mentioned above, I should be in good shape for a while.

View JohnChung's profile

JohnChung

419 posts in 2494 days


#38 posted 02-13-2017 04:13 AM

@mnorman – Before buying I suggest you check derek cohen web-site. Talks a lot about the tools as it is in-depth. Will save you a lot of money in the long run.

http://www.inthewoodshop.com/ToolReviews/index.html

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

10858 posts in 1905 days


#39 posted 02-13-2017 04:28 AM

I would suggest a #5 instead of LAJ. I am a believer in chipbreaker helping to control tearout. On a low angle plane there isn’t anything to help that except a blade with a higher angle (50-55 degrees). To me a LAJ is for endgrain. Just my opinion and limited experience.

This study convinced me.

https://youtu.be/56DpxEOpxz0

From wkfinetools.com

They have all kinds of interesting and useful articles on there

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View realcowtown_eric's profile

realcowtown_eric

617 posts in 2356 days


#40 posted 02-13-2017 07:44 AM

glad to hear my little rant about maker spaces didn’t fall on deaf ears

Back in the 80’s I thought that laser engravers were great, but couldn’t afford to invest. Today i took a course at the Calgary Protospace that let me use the device rs. Cost——10 bucks CDN (7.50 us $) Oh and there’s a whack of donated materials from soup to nuts to experiment and learn on. software is free!

Oh ya, courses are important to meet new and interested folks, I met a lot for my 50 bucks/month. And most of them were not neophytes, they had expertise in many other fields On the other hand, for old guys, there’s teenagerss making robots that you can help out too!

The economics aside, I am lovin it !!! Ain’t sure, but I’m thinkin most maker spaces have free open houses

Eric in Calgary

-- Real_cowtown_eric

View OSU55's profile

OSU55

2359 posts in 2409 days


#41 posted 02-13-2017 12:39 PM


Thanks for the feedback everyone. At this point I m leaning towards buying a few tools just to get started. I ll search for instruction online or from DVDs as well as some shorter duration classes.

Based on what I ve read/watched online as well as some feedback I ve recieved from my local woodworking shops and from the Lie Nielsen hand tool event last summer, I think I m going to go with a low angle jack and block plane and some quality stones. I already picked up a 4 piece set of Stanley Sweeheart chisels this last Christmas.

For the block plane, it seems pretty uninimous that the Lie Nielsen 60 1/2 is the way to go.

For the low angle jack plane, the Lie Nielsen seems to be the most traditional recommendation while the Veritas adds a few modern tweaks which a lot of people say make it the better plane to start out with. I ll have to get my hands on both to see which one I prefer.

- mnorman

Here are 2 series of blogs on handplanes that you might find helpful - tuning” and handplane choices

I’m a big fan of Paul Sellers for most all hand tool things. His online Master classes are very good and cheap (many are free). After seeing what he can do with a Stanley Bailey #4, you just have to have one.

View dbray45's profile

dbray45

3320 posts in 3196 days


#42 posted 02-13-2017 01:03 PM

I have bought DVDs and a few online courses to see what I was doing – right or wrong. Didn’t cost much but learned a lot – and have those courses saved so I can review them it I haven’t done it much – like the upholstery courses.

Classes are great and you learn a lot – and you forget a lot during the course. If you are a youngster and are actively doing a lot of woodworking, classes are great.

My 2 cents.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View corelz125's profile

corelz125

752 posts in 1395 days


#43 posted 02-14-2017 08:36 PM

If you don’t have to tools to practice with once you get home you might forget over time what you learn in class.

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