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Forum topic by AKSteve posted 08-04-2012 04:34 PM 2898 views 1 time favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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475 posts in 3312 days

08-04-2012 04:34 PM

Topic tags/keywords: talent education craftsmanship school

Since I am such a newbie to the wood working world I am pretty envious of those who have been doing this all of there lives. I wish I had a third of the talent that most on here have. I noticed that there seems to be some pretty good schools on this. One in particular I like is the “Center for Furniture Craftsmanship” out in Maine. I subscribe to the newsletter and love to see all of the projects that the students make.

How did everyone get there skills ? did you learn from a school, your Dad or other sources or just on your own? Also if you did go to a school which one did you attend? and how did you like it? and did you get what you wanted out of it? I would be interested to know.

One Day I hope to go to one of those schools I think it would be fun and very educational. Although I don’t know if they would allow an old fart like me in LOL.

Thanks in Advance for your answers !

-- Steve - Wasilla, Alaska

20 replies so far

View smokey1945's profile


75 posts in 4391 days

#1 posted 08-04-2012 05:25 PM

I’m going to listen in on this one Steve if you don’t mind! We are pretty much in the same boat! Good ww to you!

-- TheShadeTreeWW If God wanted me to touch my toes, he'd have put them on my knees

View Loren's profile


11019 posts in 4657 days

#2 posted 08-04-2012 05:27 PM

I learned from reading books and practicing the methods
in them. I never watched woodworking TV shows more
than a couple of times.

Get some good stones and learn to sharpen your tools
well. You don’t need heirloom quality tools to build
heirloom quality work.

I did go to luthiery school at a community college for
a semester. I didn’t get much done during the session
but I talked to the advanced students a lot and observed.
There was a bottleneck in the class because everyone
was waiting for a turn to use the side bending jigs and
the brace gluing jigs.

I just went home after the class, built my own jigs
to make my guitar and did it on my own.

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5341 posts in 4969 days

#3 posted 08-04-2012 05:33 PM

I learned by screwing up a BUNCH. Sometimes experience with the tools at hand is more valuable than a classroom environ.

-- [email protected]

View jacob34's profile


465 posts in 3273 days

#4 posted 08-04-2012 05:38 PM

Man I am in your boat, my projects are nothing like some of these gems the ol salty dogs are creating. I will say that for me anyways I learn from seeing it done, I noticed on Saturdays they have rough cut a turning show and I think woodsmith on in the morning and have started watching do the groaning of my children and wife. I watch a lot of internet as well, and must say while I am not in the class that most of these guys are I have gotten better and have learn more what will not work and saved myself a lot of heart ache. I never have taken classes or school for wood working but man it can not hurt. The main thing that I have been told is best way to learn is to do. I have built three boxes now with finger joints with are way better now than they were at the beginning. I would say think about trying all the processes by hand if you can I find if helps me slow down and understand better what I am doing which in turn helps me with my power tools. Good luck man

-- so a bear and a rabbit are sitting on a log

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 4007 days

#5 posted 08-04-2012 11:02 PM

There is what appears to be a really nice school here not too far from where I live that gives classes (Homestead Heritage) that I would enjoy going to but I really don’t want to to pay to sit through classes on skills I already have. It would be great if I were just starting out but with a mixed level of skills, I know I would be bored most of the time in the first classes you have to take in their sequence.

Most of the skills are pretty simple and can be learned from reading and videos. But when you do it on your own, it will take more practice and failed projects since you won’t have someone over your shoulder steering you away from the mistakes.

Unless you are in a position to take off the time from life (fresh out of school or retired) I think it is easier to look at how much a class would cost including not just the cost of the class but also the travel and other related expenses and put that into a set of learning materials and wood and get to it. You are going to make a thousand mistakes. The sooner you get them out of the way, the sooner you will be making projects you are happy with.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View a1Jim's profile


118161 posts in 4586 days

#6 posted 08-04-2012 11:06 PM

This explains where I got my woodworking know how came from.


View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 3197 days

#7 posted 08-05-2012 03:05 AM

The trouble, as I see it, with a lot of the ww schools is that the experience will really cost you a bundle. Even fairly short courses from the big names are expensive. For some people it is probably the way to go, but I think most of us have learned by reading good books and magazines and more recently forums and the like on the Internet. Some are lucky enough to also know others who have developed a lot of skills, so-called mentors. Lucky them ! But there is no substitute for “getting your hands dirty” so to speak. Many of the guys on LJs who do terrific work are self-taught but it didn’t happen overnight !

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30597 posts in 3347 days

#8 posted 08-05-2012 03:51 AM

My early learning was trial &error, school of hard knocks. Quite honestly, I have learned more talking to the people on this website for the past few months than anything else I have ever done.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 3645 days

#9 posted 08-05-2012 04:17 AM

I started out self taught and bought tools as I needed. It was all and good but I had a lot of limitations. I took some woodworking classes when I went to college and it opened a world of possibilities. Having all the tools to do anything possible gives you tremendous freedom. Im assuming most people don’t have access to a 16” jointer and 4’ wide belt sander in even a well set up shop. You also learn from seeing others work and having a teacher to ask questions. My guess is that any woodworking school is better than no woodworking school.

View Alster's profile


102 posts in 4223 days

#10 posted 08-05-2012 04:25 AM

I attended Lonnie Bird’s school, and it was a tremendous experience. Here’s why a school can be such a good thing:

1) Lots of us struggle to find shop time. At a school, I had a week of uninterrupted time to focus on woodworking without worrying about work or family or anything else.

2) Where I lived, there was not a big woodworking community, so there weren’t many people around to learn from. At a school, there is at least one expert around to help you with things that beginners just don’t understand, like “what is a genuinely sharp, correctly set-up tool?” You can read about these things in magazines, but having someone around to demonstrate is worth a lot.

3) At the end of your week (or three days, or whatever) you WILL have a project completed. I think a lot of us get depressed by unfinished work, and feel bad about starting the next thing before the first one gets done. You learn a lot at a school, but one of the biggest, best advantages to going to a school is that you develop the confidence you’ll need to finish things, and to finish them right.

My school cost me about a hundred bucks a day for six days. I gained way more than that in confidence and the subsequent enjoyment of woodworking.

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 3645 days

#11 posted 08-05-2012 06:11 AM

You might want to consider looking into a bigger liberal arts or tech school if there is one in your area. You can talk to the teacher and see if you could take a course with only 1 credit, as you pay by the credit. That way you can make the class a whole semester and can often use the shop for your own projects during open shop hours.

View Gerald6279's profile


18 posts in 3787 days

#12 posted 08-06-2012 03:32 PM

I learned my skills in 8th grade and high school shop classes. I added to these by wood working books and sites lie lumberjocks. My projects in school classes were terrible! Ha Ha Other skills were learned in the school of hard knocks by trial and error till I found what worked and what didn’t.

-- Gary, Indianapolis

View Kookaburra's profile


748 posts in 3233 days

#13 posted 08-06-2012 04:47 PM

I am not nearly the expert in wood that many folks here are but I do have a couple of thoughts – these do not apply just to woodworking but to anything where you use your hands to create something.

1. You can learn a tremendous amount from books, videos, forums and the like.
2. Having a skilled instructor actually watch you work cannot be matched by watching a video. He can correct those little bad habits that you are probably not aware of; he can give you hints you did not even know you needed.
3. Exposure to just one teacher (via any method of delivery) narrows your horizons. You need to try as many approaches as you can to see what works best for you and your style of working.

As I have said in other places, I am primarily a glass artist. Once a year I take an intensive class – not always the same place or instructor. I never fail to learn something new that totally justifies the cost of the on-site class. But I also read and watch demos whenever I can. There is so much to learn and I am excited about learning new things every day.

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

View AKSteve's profile


475 posts in 3312 days

#14 posted 08-06-2012 08:44 PM

At my Age by the time I have learned all of the mistakes I need to make from “The School of hard Knocks” I would probably be dead ! LOL. I think it is pretty awesome what alot of people have done to learn there craft. I wished I had, had the time in that alot of folks do here. But as some have expressed here, there is alot to be said for having an instructor, especially to get you past alot of mistakes one would make in learning the Craft. thanks a million for all of your answers, it’s a very interesting mix for sure.

-- Steve - Wasilla, Alaska

View Loren's profile


11019 posts in 4657 days

#15 posted 08-06-2012 08:58 PM

I was looking around at timber framing workshops and the problem
I saw was that I’d be investing money in learning how to sharpen
tools and cut joints, which I already know how to do, in order
to get the experience in assembly and engineering.

I will say that if you want to learn a specialized skill and you lack the
time or initiative to do it on your own, taking classes can be a
good choice.

One thing to be aware of is that in woodworking training there’s
a real difference between preparing able bodied young people
for professional trades work and the classes which cater to older
people who are learning skills for reasons other than livelihood.

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