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Off to Ashford I go

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ByronBlack

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Well today is the day that I finally get to learn from the experts. I'm going on a 9 day course with Mr. Bruce Luckhurst in his workshops in Ashford. I have a couple of rusty boat anchors ready to salvage and sharpen, and a nice shiny new dovetail saw to practice with.

The only downside is that i'll be staying in a B&B for the duration and will be away from my family for a while, but it should be a good experience.

I thought I would start a thread now, so when I get back I can answer anyones questions and give a little mini-review of the course so that it might help others if they are thinking of going on and not sure its worth the cost.

So, The course is: Cabinet making Stages 1 & 2 - Cost = £550
Accomodation at a near by B&B is £200 (for the duration)

Anyone who is interested or is thinking of going on this course, feel free to post questions, and when I get back i'll be in a position to answer (aswell as others here who may have already been on the course).
 

Barry Burgess

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Brave of you Byron let us know how you go. The last time I had formal wood work training was at school aged 12 and our teacher was about 70 and a retired cabinet maker and a very good teacher to boot.
 

Waka

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Good for you Byron, I'm sure you'll enjoy
 

Gill

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Have fun, Byron. I'm looking forward to to hearing how you get on.

Gill
 

Chris Knight

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Byron,
I am sure you will enjoy his dry humour but the late evenings catching up with where you are supposed to be can be a killer!
 

The Restorer

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I've done several of Bruce's short courses (cab. 1 + 2, wood buying and drying) as well as his one year intensive restoration course (no longer available).
Great way of brushing up on skills and learning do things right first time around.
The short courses are very well presented, by a very knowledgeable man and backed up by good quality notes.

You'll spend a lot of time, as Waterhead says, catching up on where you should be, this is certainly not a 9 to 5 course with an hours lunch etc. Watch out for the first attempt at veneering, keep calm and read the notes thoroughly. Mr Luckhurst normally disapears just as you start your veneering (something about not wanting to see grown men crying!! :shock: )

Enjoy your course and keep on practising.

Steve.
 

ByronBlack

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So, I got back from my course on friday evening (Cabinet Making 1 & 2) and here are my brief findings:

Bruce - at first he can come across arrogant, and a little sarcastic, happy to put down any tool maker (lie-nielsen espeically) that he doesn't use himself and generally seems a bit 'above' everything and everyone. BUT over time you get to realise that he isn't really like this, and has a good sense of humour - albeit a bit dry.

Cab 1 (Tool Technology) - The first two days are stage 1, where the bulk of the experience is flattening the backs of the blades (chisels, planes etc) and then honing the bevel and finally sharpening. We didn't use honing-guides, everything had to be done by hand, and we had the oppurtunity to use oilstones, diamond stones, and wet-n-dry methods. (I prefered the oilstones).

This was a good experience, and in little time I had my planes razor sharp, and my chisels (the kirschens, which bruce really liked) were amazingly sharp, I now have no hair on my left arm, and many small nicks and cuts, these first two days were a minor revelation. We then spent the weekend finishing the tuning of the toolkit in preperation for monday. I and three other students decided to visit near-by Godinton house where bruce has done some restoration work, a very inspirational place, and well worth a visit.

Stage 2 (Cabinet Making). On this course which lasts 5 days (mon-fri) we make a drawer. We have to hand-plane the wood to thickness, create face edge and sides (using the shooting board and the fabulous Record T5 Plane). Once that was done, we then used a scrub plane to get the dimensions of the drawer sides and front right to create a nice tight fit to the test-carcass. We then moved on to create half-lap dovetails on the front, and then through-dovetails on the rear, this took up the bulk of the first three days.

On wednesday we had a short time to do some veneering - I personally really did not enjoy this part, but it was interesting to do nonetheless. We then fitted a lock and escutcheon and then the drawer bottom. We used a scratching stock to create the grooves. (great little tool).

Overall Opinion:
It's a good experience for people like me who need to go right back to the basics to learn how to get stock square, tools sharp, and to learn teh basic techniques in measuring, marking and chiselling. The dovetails were quite difficult to begin with but after doing quite a few they became easier and easier and I was quite pleased with the final result.

Some people might not relate to Bruce too-well (as some of the students didn't), but if you take him with the right attitude he becomes a very knowledgable tutor. However, one of things that I found off putting was the amount of time he spent in the workshop. He would do around 3 or 4 demonstrations during the day for a particular task, and would then often leave us to it, with him not being around that often it was difficult somtimes to complete the task as he was not at hand to ask any questions, however other days he was around more, so this is a minor niggle.

I am now confident of tuning and restoring hand-planes, chisels, marking guages, cutting guages and various other pieces of equipment, I have a wealth of small and useful tips and tricks and a solid understanding of working accuratly (within .1 of a mm) and i'm confident of building dovetail jointed pieces.

I have now signed up for Cab 3 in november where i'll be making a shaker style table that double as a drawing table, here i'll learn motise and tenon joinery, book-matching, joining planks and tapering.

I think it is worth the money aslong as you go into the course with the right frame of mind, it is hard-work, it is sometimes boring and repitiive and you might not come out of the course with a completed product - but that isn't the point of the course, its all about technique, knowledge and giving you the confidence in using your tools in the correct manor.

I apologise for any bad grammer or spelling, as I can't be bothered to re-read this as i'm doing some more dovetails :)
 
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