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Steve Maskery

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I have a friend. There is no need to sound so surprised.

We discussed the C-word. I said no, so she went to her sister's in Jersey on her own. We discussed Presents. I said I don't so C for the sake of C, so I wasn't going to buy her anything just for the sake of it, she needed to tell me exactly what she would like.

Etc, etc.

So she bought me a ticket to the theatre, which we both thoroughly enjoyed, and I agreed to give her some woodworking lessons.....

She'd seen an old battered, weathered, step-stool that my dad made when we were little. Possibly before I was born, actually. I can't remember life without it. Now, it is riddled with worm, covered in lichen and is generally tatty, but it allows easier access to the upper shelves of a kitchen, for example.

She liked it and wanted something similar.

So on Friday I took her to a timber yard to see how one buys timber, and yesterday we started to make this stool.

Planer
Thicknesser
SCMS
Tablesaw
Handplane
Pencil and square
Domino
Biscuit joiner
Glue
Clamps
Etc, etc.


It astonished me to discover how long it takes to teach somebody who is approaching this from Ground Zero. She is not an silly person (Edit: that was written I-D-I-O-T but was censored by the PC Police), by any means, and is quite arty-crafty, but has never held a try square, or measured 310mm ("Is that right?", "No, that is 31").

It takes ten minutes on the SCMS to make one cut - understanding how the machine works, how to switch it on, how to switch it off, where to hold the workpiece, what does the startup actually feel like? It's a scary machine to a novice.

On the TS - "Set the fence to 75mm."
"What's the fence and how do I set it?"
"Don't push it there, push it there instead."

We take so much for granted (well, I do) that it is easy to forget what is is like to be a total beginner.

S
 

Deadeye

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Steve Maskery":1pr5z5rt said:
"Don't push it there, push it there instead."

We take so much for granted (well, I do) that it is easy to forget what is is like to be a total beginner.

S
Oi. That's me. And I've tried really hard now for almost a year
 

Trevanion

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We've all been there, on the "I have no idea what you're talking about" side I mean :lol:

There used to be a poster in my french class (Which also happened to be my form room) in school which read the words "The expert in anything was once a beginner" with a kid with a baseball bat on a pitch in the background. Now, I have no idea why that poster was in the french class at all, but it's stuck with me since. It's a good quote, everyone starts at the bottom rung, it's just some are quicker to climb it than others.
 

Fitzroy

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I’ve previously finished everything I’ve made in Danish oil. The shelves for my boys room are getting something that will keep them lighter. A water based acrylic varnish.

I was advised on here that I need to rub back between coats. This has resulted is hours of research. What grit, how hard, how do I know when I’ve rubbed enough? Also it’s water based so I decided to wipe down first with hot water and sand back. How wet does it need to be? Etc etc

Stuff that will be known next time, but this time it means I’ve barely got started with the finish, when I wanted the shelves done this weekend.

Fitz.
 

Doug B

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I prefer to think of it as a pagan festival celebrating the winter solstice which makes it easier for me to join in :D
 

MikeG.

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Trevanion":3bbqwqtw said:
...... everyone starts at the bottom rung, it's just some are quicker to climb it than others.
Something I learned in teaching my SIL some basics is to try that skill yourself with the wrong hand. However clumsy you feel doing it, you'll still be better with your wrong hand than a beginner will be with their stronger hand. Try cutting neatly to a line with a tenon saw in the wrong hand, and you'll see what I mean!
 

bourbon

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I was a scout leader for 27 years. When teaching knots, I taught myself to tie them right handed, left handed, blindfolded and behind my back. that covers most peoples weaknesses.
 

Phil Pascoe

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As I said on another thread - if any experienced person saw my lad with a tool in his hand - any tool - the first thing they'd think is put that tool down, lad, it obviously doesn't belong to you and you'll either hurt yourself or damage something with it. He struggles to use a screwdriver. :D
 

SammyQ

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I am a thick plonker....CHRISTMAS!!

Steve, having taught 5000 pupils, of varying abilities, over 37 years at the chalk face, I wholly, absolutely agree: take nothing for granted. You can get some real surprises if you do....

Sam
 

AndyT

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It's an interesting perspective, Steve and a good reminder of how different people see the world.

Looking at your list of tools and equipment, there's quite a bit of machinery on it. I certainly don't want to set up a silly "hand tools good, machine tools bad" argument - I don't think that and it's the outcome that matters more than the method.

But if I was making a step stool, I wouldn't be using any of that machinery. I've never used a planer, thicknesser, SCMS, Domino or even a biscuit jointer. So each one would bring its own set of uncertainties about set-up and safety.

Do you think it would have been easier if you prepped the wood and let your pupil just use hand tools? A bit like how most of us were introduced to woodworking at school?
 

Steve Maskery

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There is some hand tool work Andy. I showed her how to use a hand plane, but she couldn't press down hard enough to make it work. My bench is quite high. I am shorter than I used to be and I find it a bit high. She is shorter still and I think that doesn't help.
Next stage is to turn a finial for the handle and there will be some drilling and screwing come assembly time.
I'd like the end result to be as good as if I had made it, and I think that, with only hand tools, it would not be great quality and it would take forever.
 

woodbloke66

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The teaching bit all sounds very familiar Steve. Unlike Sam, I had a twenty year sentence at the 'chalk face' but all my teaching was done in the workshop with kids of eleven and up - Rob
 

SammyQ

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1st to 3rd formers, in their ONE class of the week where they can get up, move around, get rid of some pent-up energy, plus flames, sharp edges, live electricity and corrosive substances...just a normal day for a science teacher!!
The most regular event for me was in the food test practicals, where inexperienced ( or malicious!!) 'volcanic' heating of a tiny liquid extract inevitably led to "flash boiling" and projectile liquid....times 12 groups of excited, heedless, little boys...
I used to get the class wassock to "draw his head outline" on the whiteboard, then have him 'demonstrate' the Benedict's Test, surreptitiously aligning him so that the inevitable spurt of superheated chemicals 'took out' his head outline....Funny how quiet and co-operative they were after that!!

Sam
 

AndyT

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At the time, I used to think Mr Jackson and Mr Vines were too strict in the wood and metal workshops. Looking back, I think anyone willing to supervise 30 adolescent boys all equipped to injure themselves and each other at a moment's notice deserves our respect and gratitude.
 

Phil Pascoe

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When I was sixteen, working at the rear of the 'shop if my woodworker master had a large class of first or second year he used to say I've got the front, you've got the back. I considered it quite a feather in my cap. :D
 

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