Teaching woodworking without tools and a shop

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Forum topic by rhett posted 04-30-2010 10:33 PM 2832 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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743 posts in 4062 days

04-30-2010 10:33 PM

Got a call from a lady who runs an adult education center. She was curious if I would be interested in giving some classes on woodworking in the evenings. The issue is that there is no shop and flimsy foldup tables at best in the classrooms. I could give a few classes on wood and basic joinery with pics and examples, but at some point, isn’t a student going to want to actually cut and work wood?
Anyone have examples or ideas that might make this work? I enjoy teaching but don’t want to make a class out of nothing.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

23 replies so far

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 4086 days

#1 posted 04-30-2010 10:54 PM

is this for special needs adults if so one piece of scrape and a plane and hand saw would do the job to show basic joinery

-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

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743 posts in 4062 days

#2 posted 04-30-2010 10:58 PM

No, normal adults looking to learn new things. My wife took a signing class there and I think thats how I got associated.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 4086 days

#3 posted 04-30-2010 11:01 PM

man it hard with no tools what do they think your going to use your fingers

-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 3350 days

#4 posted 04-30-2010 11:45 PM

I’d think that you’ll need some shop time, otherwise the class would have to be called woodworking theory.

If you aren’t willing to bring the students into your own shop, hand tools are compact enough to bring to your classroom, don’t throw dust all over the place, and really (IMHO) are where folks should start their woodworking journey. As far as a bench to work on goes, you could do it Japanese style and work on the floor, you could work off of saw horses, or you could get ambitous and build a bench with your class.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3378 days

#5 posted 05-01-2010 01:03 AM

How right you are, to learn about woodworking without the use of hand tools is useless. Even a kid wants to get their feet wet. Recommend that you would need a work bench and some basic hand tools. This way you could teach the class using hand tools to make the bench and everyone would be able to participate in the project together. Then as the class progress’s they could begin to purchase their own hand tools and the class could start doing small projects. In middle school we made a water pump lamp all with hand tools. Basic coping saw, hammer and nails and chisels and sandpaper. I still have that lamp today. Once they get the feel of woodworking the students won’t mind buying tools they can take home and begin there own projects. Even if you had to start out with your own hand tools to get them started would make a difference. We once had a woodworking class at our church for the youth using hand tools. The pastor brought in his workmate fold up bench to use as a vice, and a lot of the pieces I precut in my shop to save time and keep it simple as well. I brought in my own tools to help out with the kids to have something to work with. Of course I left the good ones in the shop. Being normal adults I’m sure they realize that funding is an issue and that some purchases would need to be made. In fact many hardware stores have bargain bins to buy some tools cheap. Like hammers and screwdrivers and such. Its a start and could even take off more than you might expect.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Stuey's profile


43 posts in 3352 days

#6 posted 05-01-2010 02:20 AM

Here’s an idea – can you work with a local woodworking supplier to set up small starter kits? Perhaps the kits could contain a few essential tools and supplies, maybe with a small gift card ($25) so that the students would be motivated to shop there in the future?

You could then bring in a few additional tools that would be shared amongst the students, such as squares or whatnot.


View Tim Lawson's profile

Tim Lawson

17 posts in 3346 days

#7 posted 05-01-2010 02:59 AM

I suggest that you can teach woodworking – at least the appreciation and love of woodworking. When we started our school (the Port Townsend School of Woodworking) we had to do it in a dust free, shaving free way. We offered a series of seminars/demonstrations on Introduction to Woodworking, Built-In Furniture Design, Sharpening and others. It worked well. Well enough that some 80 people paid us!

I’d be willling on a one-off basis to send you a couple of those presentations for you to try out.

Message me to work out the details.


-- Tim Lawson

View John Steffen's profile

John Steffen

218 posts in 3450 days

#8 posted 05-01-2010 03:13 AM

Stuey has got it right. See if you can get sponsored.

Maybe have a small additional fee associated with the class, similar to having to buy books. Or have a list of required tools. I remember having to drop $100 on a graphing calculator that I used in ONE class.

Most businesses are more than willing to work with you if it means they can gain a number of new customers.

-- Big John's Woodshed - Farmington, IL

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18576 posts in 4071 days

#9 posted 05-01-2010 03:16 AM

You could teach them about woodworking in that situation, not woodworking.

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

View Stuey's profile


43 posts in 3352 days

#10 posted 05-01-2010 04:47 AM

I thinking more along the lines of “required course package”, perhaps at a discount. A local shop might be more willing to help out with the execution of the plan and with a discount if they were sure they would have some repeat customers, hence the addition of a gift card as part of the paid package. Depending on the number of students and sold simple starter packages, the supplier might be convinced to throw in a few group tools.

A list of tools might be too much to ask of newcomers. They might see “hand saw” on the list, and think of a hacksaw.


View John Steffen's profile

John Steffen

218 posts in 3450 days

#11 posted 05-01-2010 05:32 AM

A list of tools might be too much to ask of newcomers. They might see “hand saw” on the list, and think of a hacksaw.

I agree, and I think we’re on the same page here… Having it sponsored through a store might enable the sponsor store to have a package ready for students of a class to come in and purchase the tools at a discounted price (doesn’t even need to be discounted, just put together). That not only benefits the student (getting the tools they need) and the teacher (not having to struggle through a class with students with inadequate gear), but also benefits the store in having the students know where the store is located, and allowing them to see the other products the store offers.

And after writing this out I realize it’s exactly what you wrote… so yes, I agree with you. Go for the class!

-- Big John's Woodshed - Farmington, IL

View patron's profile


13648 posts in 3736 days

#12 posted 05-01-2010 05:45 AM

you might scour the net for third world ,
hand worked tools and methods ,
along with some of the things ,
that have been made this way for generations .

we have all seen some of the chinese hand worked things ,
and turners making bowls ,
using their feet to turn a homemade pit lathe .

the course could then introduce ,
the hand tool packages and their advantages .

this might intrique the students ,
and get them ready to do things with modern hand tools .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View MyFathersSon's profile


180 posts in 3708 days

#13 posted 05-01-2010 07:32 PM

I was literally just in my local Orange box this morning and stopped for a minute to watch the class they do for kids on Saturdays.
Their ‘workbenches’ were piece of plywood across the top of carts.
The only tools I saw or heard were hammers and sandpaper. Im assuming the parts were precut.
But the kids were having a ball making little plant stands and tool boxes.
I was reminded of a dinner tray I built years ago in Vacation Bible School in a church classroom.

OK—so this might be a little juvenile—but I bet you could adapt the idea to something your adults would enjoy.
And then use that as a discussion starter for your presentation on more ‘advanced’ tools and techniques.

Just a thought.

-- Those who insist it can't be done - should politely refrain from interrupting those who are doing it.

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3510 days

#14 posted 05-01-2010 08:50 PM

make a very short list of the most needed tools that you think is realy nessery for them
to start with copy it and bring it with you the first day , say to them this is what you need
to have with you next time , and the fist day you introduse all the different handtools
and those from the next step that you recoment them to buy over the next year or so
all of them shuold be unplugged handtools
that list you give them the last day of the seminar, becourse of the first day of introduction
they will know what/how the tool is on the list so a saw isn´t a hacksaw etc.
you cuold use a lot of those small vidioclips from youtube/E-magazines/ there is allso the
sites where woodworkes demostrate handtool teknik you cuold benefit from
depending on how long each sesion takes you cuold divide it 1/3 teori/teknik and 2/3 practic
find a project they all should make so you know they will come thrugh most of the importen
basic skill .
but the first day will allways bee an introduction to woodworld
and when you find out how much they want to learn at what speed you can always
at the last day give them a paper with all the sites where unplugged woodworkers
share there knowlege and if they are more to powertools there is a bunch of them
as well

just a newbees humble opinion


View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 4128 days

#15 posted 05-01-2010 09:33 PM

I once took a computer class with no computers. To say the least, it was pretty boring and I don’t think I retained a thing I supposedly learned. But you could teach a lot about types of wood, tool usage and the tools they would need to begin woodworking, different types of joinery and they why and when for each. You might be surprised at the number of people who don’t even have a clue what a combination square is (or a chisel, bevel gauge, etc….).


-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

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