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LBCarpentry

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Got my first apprentice starting next week. Very excited to be teaching someone from scratch. He’s an older lad who is much more mature than your standard twerp. Just starting to think about a training schedule.

How long is long enough training on a machine? For example a rip saw. It has a sliding fence, on off button and that’s about it. Obviously there’s a number of safety points But do you stand over them for a week? A month??

4 sided planer - possibly the safest machine going. Bow down and shove it in. I’m teasing a little bit looking for opinions.
 

topchippyles

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Got my first apprentice starting next week. Very excited to be teaching someone from scratch. He’s an older lad who is much more mature than your standard twerp. Just starting to think about a training schedule.

How long is long enough training on a machine? For example a rip saw. It has a sliding fence, on off button and that’s about it. Obviously there’s a number of safety points But do you stand over them for a week? A month??

4 sided planer - possibly the safest machine going. Bow down and shove it in. I’m teasing a little bit looking for opinions.
To ask that question shows its your first but good on you.Only you and the lad can decide on that one and when you feel safe you will know (good luck)
 

Eshmiel

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A feature of old-fashioned 5 or 6 year apprenticeships used to be that "the lad" was tasked with a very limited set of jobs at the start, often of the rather tedious and repetitive kind. One motive was to allow more skilled workers to do the skilled rather than the grunt work. But another motive was to ensure that the apprentice had a large practice at the basics, the large scope of which (in the form of many iterations of the task) would inevitably reveal those outlier glitches, difficulties and dangers. The lad would soon be an expert at that one task. Then the next and perhaps slightly more complex task type would be given to his attentions for a few weeks. ....

Although such an approach can be a bit boring for the apprentice, and seem limiting to both the employer and the apprentice, it has its merits. One learns the whole scope of the task, not just the variety of operations of that kind that are unproblematic.

For example, tasked with all the pre-marked ripping and cross-cutting of various parts would give the apprentice a wide experience of all sorts of sizes, shapes and qualities of wood for table sawing - including the naughty pieces with reaction wood, shakes and similar features. Giving him 5 pieces of nice timber to cut then assuming he understands "everything" because you added a chart and demo-ed safe procedures is not really a thorough education in tablesawing.

Eshmiel
 

sunnybob

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If he's using hand tools, then constant repetition is required. My first week as an apprentice was spent measuring 1" pieces of half inch gas pipe, and then hacksawing them square.
Only when you had cut four consecutive pieces square that when set next to each other on a flat plate were perfectly level, did you move on.
Then you had to pick 4 odd scrap pieces and file them until they too were square and the same height.
There was an awful lot of scrap pipe in that classroom. :p
Measuring, marking, and cutting.
If its machinery, then safety talks, followed by safety talks, followed by questions that need the correct answers, followed by another safety talk.
If you really want to scare him, show him some injury videos on the machines he will be working on.:oops:
 

Bod

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I'm tempted to add, 1st job, sweeping the floor, when he can do that properly, he makes the tea, as you get to know him, then you access what he's capable of doing.
Slow I know, but letting him loose with a hand saw, is a lot less dangerous than a table saw.

Bod.
 

Mike Jordan

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It depends on the individual. Some people have what I call "machine sense" others may never be safe to work unsupervised. The chap who originally showed me how to do it had bits missing from both hands and never did seem to have a grip on safety.
He was however capable of turning out good work swiftly.
If you are an experienced machinist I think you will teach slowly and carefully, one task at a time and cover,all the safety aspects. All the guards all of the time is a good maxim. If you can't offer proof of your abilities ( no I'm not trying to offend you ) any injury to the student could have serious consequences in these days of " where there's blame there's a claim"
Machinery suppliers like Daltons run courses for machinists together with safety courses and refresher type training, these might be worth considering.
 

Trevanion

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Haha! I remember my first couple days as an apprentice and I was dropped properly in the deep-end because the boss was a right sod with an "If you can't keep up, you don't belong here" kind of attitude! Day one running a Wadkin PBR by myself just shown what does what and which way to push timber in about two minutes! Day two running all the timber through the four-cutter learning which way to place timber on the beds with again, only a couple of minutes of explanation, then cutting all the timber to length with a radial arm saw. Day three was morticing and tenoning with basically "Don't put your hands here or here" as instructions with some seriously sketchy, unguarded machines. Day four was running everything through the spindle moulder and then day five and onwards was assembly bearing in mind up to this point I had only really had maybe fifteen minutes tuition on all the machines in total :ROFLMAO: . Within the span of a couple of months, I began working on more and more complex stuff and they just kept throwing it at me progressively getting further into the deep end up until the point I was doing a lot of curved and angular work, as a first-year apprentice!

Sadly that company closed down after the year I was there, I've always been thankful for the very intense first-year apprenticeship I had though, it taught me more in the span of a year than most apprentices would get in five or more! Without a doubt that was what made me.

It all depends on the lad or lass though, if they can't keep up perhaps a slower approach is needed but don't baby them otherwise you'll be wasting your own time as well as theirs. When explaining set-ups, run them through it and ask them whether they understood, take it all apart again and make them do it to show you that they've understood, if they stumble and cannot do it they've not understood and show them again and they will be more attentive the second time around. Pick up a couple of books and let them borrow them if they're keen, Machine Woodworking by Nick Rudkin is an excellent primer for new machinists and Joinery and Carpentry Volume 2 by Richard Greenhalgh is an excellent resource on joinery and geometry.
 

sunnybob

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Agreed, its all about the man (or boy) I try each year to show my grandson how to make stuff. But I cant ever trust him. He will be standing nicely by my side apparently listening then suddenly his hand shoots out, picks something up, and only THEN, asks me what it is.
He's bright mind, understands ideas and processes quickly, but in a machine shop he would be a double amputee in months. His mum wasnt best pleased when I said he should become a project manager.
 

Trevanion

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Spindle moulder on day 4!! I'm in decade 4 and the thought of using a spindle moulder still scares me.
It was a very traditional workshop but the moulders were pretty modern and the absolute best ones you could get, Martins, a couple of T12s and a T27. I was properly spoilt 😁

What used to scare the pants off me was trenching boxed sash cills with the radial arm saw and a 20mm groover fitted, cills were pre-moulded so you had to hold onto it for dear life because only the very bottom edge of the 9-degree bevel was bearing against the fence and you were taking off the housings for the inner and outer linings 20mm at a time, 6" high off the table, so it would want to pull the cill backwards against the fence right into the cutter and the cutter would want to pull the cill in so you were in a lot of tension doing the job. I don't miss that bit!



I was doing that job maybe a couple of weeks in.
 

stuartpaul

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Congratulations on taking on an apprentice.

Consider contacting your local collage or one of the other training organisations (CITB?) and see what advice they can provide. It needs to be structured and I would suggest you find a way of recording what he's been told as you may need to consider the repeatability later (for the next one!) or, if unfortunately there's an accident, show what he was told.

Also have a look at the HSE web site (for example Managing woodworking safely – Training and supervision) and see if that helps.
 

Mike Jordan

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Spindle moulders have always had a well deserved nasty reputation. I once worked with cracking good joiner who disappeared overnight together with his tools when the boss told him he would be working the spindle moulder the following day.
 

LBCarpentry

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The guys just finished his masters with a first in computer systems and web design. I don’t believe in teaching someone the ropes by having them sweep up all day.
In at the deep end! (But In a responsible manner). Get the boy earning, burning, learning and yearning.
 

Stanleymonkey

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Same as above - well done for taking this on and I like your approach of thinking it through.

I can't share any scary apprenticeship stories but I can share some teaching stuff!

There's an old adage about teaching that says 'if the kids aren't getting it - you've probably not explained it very well!' That's not some lovely child centred approach. It's meant to be read as: teacher do your job properly! It's worth keeping in mind especially as we all have our own weird ways and routines and do a lot on autopilot or without really knowing why.

To give an example - I can still remember a driving lesson about pulling away and parking at the kerb. It was all about accelerator DOWN to speed UP and vice versa. It descended into 15 minutes of farce and him shouting 'down' and 'up' at me. I was pushing the pedal down or up, but he had switched and was now talking about my speed going down or up. Should have been simplest thing ever - but I hated him afterwards and he thought I was a complete silly person!

I think you already have the right approach - just think ahead - if you're introducing a new machine. Think it through standing at the machine on your tea break and run through the stages in your head while you drink your tea. You have the advantage of working in a logical trade that involves step by planning for everything.

As for that first few days. Surely pillar drills, sanders and the like could be a good start? They must be among the 'safer' tools. I reckon you can get some tool racks drilled and made up, or the corners rounded off on a new batch of workshop shelves on that empty patch of wall. With some supervised time on the mitre saw and some instruction with a router he could knock up a simple toolbox. Have him doing some worthwhile stuff from the start.

Best of luck. Stock up on tea, coffee and biscuits for his first day and tell him it's his job keep the biccies replenished!
 

Linwoodjoinery

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I spent 5 years teaching and assessing apprentices. If you need any help or advice feel free to drop me a message. I still stick by the same theory. If they turn up on time. Don’t spend all day on their phone, are keen to learn and polite then anything else is a bonus in the first 6 months. If he’s an official apprentice then obviously there are criteria they need to hit. This will be on an online portfolio for his NVQ side of things to which you can also access. It also details how often they log on and complete work. Hope he turns out a good lad for you and like I say feel free to drop me a message if you want any help.
 

custard

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How long is long enough training on a machine?
I trained at the Edward Barnsley Workshops. You weren't allowed near machines for about 6-8 months, but I suspect that was more about their particular syllabus than safety issues. After that you had to be signed off on each individual machine.

We were given an introduction to each machine, taken through the HSE guidelines for safe operation of that machine, then we had the machine demonstrated to us, and finally we had to demonstrate both the set up and operation of each machine.

At that point we were signed off...but only for the specific operations that had been covered. From memory it took from 90 minutes to half a day per machine, shorter with say a bandsaw or a disc sander, longer with a spindle moulder or panel saw. Every time we used new tooling or a new procedure we had to get the workshop foreman or an instructor to supervise.

Bear in mind that the Barnsley workshop doesn't accept trainees with no experience, so everyone there had worked in a woodworking capacity or qualified as say C&G Cabinetmaking. In other words pretty much everyone was used to woodworking machinery. Therefore treat the above guidelines as the absolute minimum. I'd also recommend contacting HSE, they seem to be pretty good in areas like issuing training manuals etc.

Good on you by the way for recruiting an apprentice, hope it all works for you both!
 

LBCarpentry

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Can you see this as his long term career?
Haha interesting question....
Having only met him once I couldn’t say. But I did my apprenticeship at 23 and straight after uni. Needless to say after my 3 year training I wanted more money (in fact I wanted to be paid the equivalent to the other “pro” joiners that had all been sacked by that point, leaving only myself running the workshop) and when I didn’t get what I wanted (deserved), I went and set up my own business.

I want to train him to be a machinist. I have plenty of people who can glue screw and sand but no one who can rapidly and confidently set up the spindle Moulder to match the Tenoner and Morticer in less than about 3 days 🤣. Well, I can, but my available machining time is being spread thinner as the business grows.
 

Trevanion

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The guys just finished his masters with a first in computer systems and web design.
That's an interesting change of heart straight out of university, usually computer guys have that kind of existential crisis when they're in their forties.

What you need to do is buy a big CNC machine and put the boy to task on that and make some real money! 😁 I spent a few months working at a company that had a big CNC machine but it was only the owner (Who was a half-decent joiner, although had a vile temper but that's another story...) that was allowed to operate it and he did not have a clue on computer tech so the machine was only ever really being run to perhaps 10% of its actual potential, £250,000 5 axis machine only ever being used for 3 axis work which frankly could've been done just as easily with routers and jigs.

If spindle moulder set-up is slowing you down one of the best things you can invest in is a moulder with a computer and program memory for setting the fence and shaft dimensions, push a button and the machine does everything for you (once you've set it up once and saved the program of course), all you have to do is plonk the block/s in.

Are you a part of the British Woodworking Federation? They've got some good resources for training, if a bit official and bland.
 
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