Yeah, but what would a neophyte do with that stuff? Turn out
junk? Let the tools rust? Would s/he buy the "right" tools and
the "right" lumber in the first place?
There are schools one can attend that teach you how to build
a NASCAR racer from the ground up. There are places you
can go to learn the art/science of timber framing. There's a
guy in Uvalde, Texas, that will teach you how to make a rocking
chair ("THE" rocking chair, to be sure). "Fantasy camps" for
people with the means to attend.
Seems to me that, like the task of building -- or simply knowing
HOW to build -- a fast car, getting instruction in HOW to make
quality furniture has value. Couple of buddies and I, some thirty
four years ago, went to the technical high school in Fort Worth
to take a 12 week (two nights a week) course in "mill and cabinet."
Not quite 10K, but it's simply a matter of degree. You can get
OTJ training in "short order cook" at IHOP or Denny's, or attend
the Culinary Institute of America in Poughkeepsie, 'eh?
I guess you're right and wrong at the same time (this is opinion, ok?). What
I mean is, yes, attending a course is a great way to be shown (1) the
intricacies of cabinetmaking. But would a neophyte be able to effectively
choose the right course for them, without the benefit of having first tried
their hand to determine what types of woodworking they most enjoy, or even
if they enjoy it at all?
I'll allow that when you say "neophyte" you must mean someone that has
*some* exposure, some awareness of their shortcomings and where they need to
develop. I include myself here; I know enough to know that I don't know
enough. However, that said, when do I cease to be a neophyte? It's difficult
to say because it's a relative term that changes from each users
After finishing the $10K course, most of the knowledge learned would
dissipate within a year, therefore the value for money is diminished. I
would personally prefer to attend a workshop on the specific things I need
help with, close to the time when I am going to use that knowledge to
maximise the benefits and to consolidate the training received.
With reference to the learning of the "HOW" to make something, in todays
world I think a lot of that information is readily available through the
internet. What is missing is the "WHY" part of construction and design. The
golden mean, the selection of timber types and the orientation of grain,
backgrounding in finishes and surface preparation are what I would look for.
As to the cooking analogy, if I were cooking for my family at home, I'd have
serious problems justifying a $10K course at the Culinary Institute of
America in Poughkeepsie. :-)
I suspect that we are both on the same track, but different positions can
give varying perspectives. To me, $10K is serious bucks, I would spend this
over a long period of time perhaps, or to assist with a change in vocation,
but it is beyond the realm of this weekend-warrior woodie, hence my comment.
(1) learning doesn't necessarily follow.
wrote in message
I think that learning something like furnituremaking involves jumping
into the hermeneutic circle.
It almost doesn't matter where you start because you will come back to
the same point with a deeper understanding, once you have gone through
that circle a few times.
Most courses and books are linear in their presentation. That is not
a bad thing, there must be some organizational hierarchy in presenting
But, can you really understand the fine points of stock preparation by
itself, or must you go through the process and see what paying
attention to stock prep will mean when you get to the joinery and
Courses may be something that are experienced only once but they
provide the groundwork for the "Aha!" experiences ("So, that's what
they were talking about!) that will continue throughout your working
I still find myself getting those little "Aha!" moments during my
work, that reference back to things I thought that I had absorbed from
reading Krenov, or some such.
Learning ain't linear - even though we are often presented material in
a linear fashion.
Thomas J. Watson - Cabinetmaker
Gulph Mills, Pennsylvania
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Tom, I have a guy running a business near me that I feel meets my needs
almost perfectly. He has a factory style shopfront where you can enter and
buy your woodworking goods and tools. Should you need a place to build a
project, he has plenty of space out the back and lets you use his tools to
construct your project. If you only need a specific tool for a one-off job,
you can bring it in and do that too.
But the real beauty of his setup (to me) is, I can take my project to him
and say "this is what I am trying to do - how the heck do I do it?". For a
price (quite reasonable) I can get everything I need in the quantities
needed and in the timeframes that I need them. A 12-week course is too much
at once and not necessarily specific to my needs at the time. Roy is a
ready-to-hand mentor and provides a host of other information on timber
stores, functions, local tool sales/repair and parts availability etc.
Whilst I would dearly love to attend such a course as was advertised, I am
afraid I cannot justify it within my budget, nor, I suspect, can most
hobbyists. For those that can afford it, best of luck to them - I envy them.
For me though, I enjoy books, an occasional instructional video and, when I
need to, I drop in to Roy's Woodshop on the way home from work and get some
extra tutelage. This way I get to control the outgoings a little better, and
can get information targeted specifically at what I am doing and an
explanation of the "whys" involved, which I mentioned previously are
important to me.
For any Aussies wondering which business I am referring to:
2/239 Kororoit Creek Road
No association, just a satisfied customer, yada, yada,
More to the point, it pays the rent for a while while you go and use
I almost signed up for a local college furnituremaking course a while
back. The cost was entirely negligible, in comparison to the loss of
earnings while doing it. The trouble was that it was two days a week,
for two years, and yet the expected rate of production was pretty
minimal. My reasoning was that I could easily produce the same
amount, and gain the same experience, in a few months of not working
and spending the time in the workshop instead.
Selling the damn stuff is quite another problem though....
Sounds like a great idea...and probably needs just as much of a struggle to
survive as making furniture in Philly.
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