Woodworking lessons?

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akirk

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I am slightly stuck looking for how I progress...

Lockdown hasn't been helpful in that so many courses and tutors closed down - so over the last year or so, I have spent my time learning as much as I can, but always conscious that I have huge amounts to learn and am as much in danger of learning badly as not learning at all. I have a fairly good workshop but would love to learn more...

When I look at courses that are advertised online - there seem to be some common issues:
- too basic (4 days to nail together a pine magazine holder ;))
- too complicated - results look stunning, but I am not at the right level yet
- too remote - I am in Bristol, but it doesn't seem to be a good location for woodworking courses!
- too big a block of commitment - while it would be a privilege to spend a week or a month, or a year! studying woodworking, I can't make those kinds of commitments - even weekends can be tricky to find.

I have played with tuition on youtube, but actually work best with someone else showing me what to do / instructing me - instant feedback, where on youtube there is no feedback until the chair collapses under you!

What I would like would be the equivalent of music lessons - if I want to play the piano, learn to sing, or study the ukulele, I can find a tutor who would come to me for an hour a week and teach me - but it doesn't appear to be a thing in the woodworking world -my ideal would be someone who came to me so that I can learn using the tools I have and who can teach me the core skills and then on from that (probably step 1 - build a workbench, and then learn traditional joints and then build lovely stuff!) - ideally at a time that works for both (I am flexible but sadly not yet retired!)

How do I find someone who would do that?! All ideas welcome...
 

peter-harrison

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I'm a self-employed furniture maker (in Cambridge, sorry!). I've taught a few people over the years. Mainly they were people who just turned up at the workshop and asked. I rarely charged, but instead swapped their labour for my knowledge and kit. I would say that they could come over for an afternoon per week or whatever, and help with whatever I was making at the time, to the level of their skill. I lost a bit of time through instruction, but gained a bit through whatever they did. If you are a solo maker, it's often good to have a bit of company, and help with heavy lifting or complicated gluing up operations.
You could try the same- I don't know if you have Open Studios in Bristol, but I get a few visitors every year who are looking for some kind of tuition.
Just make sure that they have the right liability insurance- you might have to offer to pay a small amount if they need to upgrade. And make sure that they or you have the right PPE and that they give you proper instruction before using machinery.
Good luck!
 

Jacob

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Just to get training in perspective - my own was a condensed C&G Carpentry & Joinery under a training for work scheme. 26 weeks, 8 til 4, half hour for lunch, penalties for being late and more for missing days - 3 days and you were off the course, or deferred. That was just a beginners course! Start of a lifetimes learning, or a bit less in my case - being a late starter.
But on the other hand some absolutely key things can be learned very quickly; sharpening, rods, marking and setting out etc. I guess a short course devoted to"key things" would be good, as long as you have a workshop and kit with which to practice them.
 
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MikeK

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- too remote - I am in Bristol, but it doesn't seem to be a good location for woodworking courses!

I am a bit more distant than Bristol, but I attended each of the four one-week courses offered by David Charlesworth in north Devon. I looked for similar courses in Germany, but did not find any that suited me or were accepting students who not part of a multi-year apprenticeship program. There are sometimes a couple of one to five day specialist courses with Dictum in Germany, but these are infrequent and don't appeal to me.

I realized the only realistic opportunity I had to attend a quality woodworking course on this side of the Atlantic was to find someone in the UK. At the time, there were a few short courses at other places, but the round trip airfare to attend was a bit too much. I hope @David C will resume teaching when conditions allow because I've recommended him to several of my friends here.
 

akirk

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Thank you all - it would be good to find that kind of option that you mention Peter, not quite sure that I have the courage to simply go and ask someone! I would always feel that I was an inconvenience to them, but there should be someone in the area who loves teaching and has the requisite woodworking skills... Maybe I could entice you / Cabinetman to the wonders of living in Bristol?! :)

Jacob - thank you, an interesting perspective... I think that part of my difficulty is that there are a few things I know and don't wish to re-learn, but because I am basically self-taught, it means that I am better in some bits than others, and don't fit easily in to a standard course... hence the desire for 1:1 which can be tailored around what I already know / want to learn...

Mike - interesting perspective, and am glad therefore that Bristol is a little better than Germany! I will look at David's courses if they restart...
 

paulrbarnard

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I am slightly stuck looking for how I progress...

Lockdown hasn't been helpful in that so many courses and tutors closed down - so over the last year or so, I have spent my time learning as much as I can, but always conscious that I have huge amounts to learn and am as much in danger of learning badly as not learning at all. I have a fairly good workshop but would love to learn more...

When I look at courses that are advertised online - there seem to be some common issues:
- too basic (4 days to nail together a pine magazine holder ;))
- too complicated - results look stunning, but I am not at the right level yet
- too remote - I am in Bristol, but it doesn't seem to be a good location for woodworking courses!
- too big a block of commitment - while it would be a privilege to spend a week or a month, or a year! studying woodworking, I can't make those kinds of commitments - even weekends can be tricky to find.

I have played with tuition on youtube, but actually work best with someone else showing me what to do / instructing me - instant feedback, where on youtube there is no feedback until the chair collapses under you!

What I would like would be the equivalent of music lessons - if I want to play the piano, learn to sing, or study the ukulele, I can find a tutor who would come to me for an hour a week and teach me - but it doesn't appear to be a thing in the woodworking world -my ideal would be someone who came to me so that I can learn using the tools I have and who can teach me the core skills and then on from that (probably step 1 - build a workbench, and then learn traditional joints and then build lovely stuff!) - ideally at a time that works for both (I am flexible but sadly not yet retired!)

How do I find someone who would do that?! All ideas welcome...
Bristol used to have a communal workshop and there were teaching courses going on there and might have people willing to come to your workshop. I remember it from a number of years ago but will see if I can find a link to it.

I thion this might have been it https://www.bristolcreatives.co.uk/resources/bristol-studios
 

Ollie78

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Just keep making stuff, well mistakes and stuff.
Make more difficult things each time. Or if you want to learn a particular thing try and make something requiring that skill. There is unfortunately no substitute for practice.
Depending on what you want to make there are great resources available. Get the city and guilds books, stuff like furniture making by Joyce, Carpentry and joinery by Bayliss, Tage Frid etc etc. and of course youtube.

I understand what you mean at not fitting into any particular course.
I looked into one at Bridgewater college and went to an open day there to try it out.
Never panned out, mainly for travel and time reasons.
There was a mix of school leavers, some retirees and people re training but I was already doing it full time by that point and had a workshop set up.
Not sure what it's like these days but it had nice workshops and proper machinery it's just down the M5 from you. Maybe they do a part time one.

Ollie
 

Ttrees

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What I would like would be the equivalent of music lessons - if I want to play the piano, learn to sing, or study the ukulele, I can find a tutor who would come to me for an hour a week and teach me - but it doesn't appear to be a thing in the woodworking world -my ideal would be someone who came to me so that I can learn using the tools I have and who can teach me the core skills and then on from that (probably step 1 - build a workbench, and then learn traditional joints and then build lovely stuff!) - ideally at a time that works for both (I am flexible but sadly not yet retired!)

How do I find someone who would do that?! All ideas welcome...

I'm always an advocate on doing things as cheaply as possible, and in this case seems a reasonable
presumption to guess that you don't have much in the way of hand tools, since you don't have a bench.
I can't see the benefit of having knowledge coming back from a course without tools, when you could likely gain much of this knowledge using them.

What I'm reading from your music lessons comment, is someone that could visit your workshop
and point out your mistakes...
Or in this case, point out a lack of some fundamental tools.

This may be particular to you depending on what you wish to do, but from the sounds of things, you want to make nice things with joinery like dovetails and whatnot.

Sounds to me like you don't have any hand planes.
I see hand planes as the one tool which can teach you the most, and are the introduction into woodworking.
After breaking the material down into rough components, it's the first tool to be used,
One could acquire lot of skills just by hand planing alone, and since it's the first of the tools on the job, the use of them will likely keep you going if saving up pennies for the next tool.

Get one of these angle poise /long reach/articulated lamps, not the cheap ones from ebay which give similar dimensions the larger one beside it, you can't use those wee ones on the bench, and you need see either side of the line if you wish to do fine work. 7.5" or 8" shade is also necessary, and is also why the wee ones are no good.

Might be worth posting a piccy or two or mentioning something about which "lessons" you wish to learn, before you even venture to a DVD course or online workshop, as there could be some key parts missing from the equation by the sounds of things.
And depending on what you wish to make, you might get a better idea of what you wish to achieve, i.e Charlesworth would be up there at the top concerning some stuff
Shouldn't be too hard to find some tutor folks on youtube who's work you like the look of?
I could write a big list of some good ones, and not the ones what one might call at best for entertainment purposes.
There was a few threads on here before, something like best youtube channels or something like that, might be worth a look.

Phil Lowe's little series is pretty good watch


Lots to be learned when you have the tool in your hand, you will be asking the right questions then, the ones you need at the time.


SAM_4866.JPG


All the best

Tom
 
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Blackswanwood

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I did a short course a few years ago :


I rang them up, spoke to the late (great) David Savage and did a week making a dovetailed box with them pretty much with 1:1 tuition.

I’d recommend making a few calls or sending a few emails to course providers and asking them how they might help with something that fits with what you want.
 

AJB Temple

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There is rarely a simple solution for this, as all training is a compromise and there will be some things you already know and probably some things a bit beyond you. For example, I have attended two knife making courses in Japan and one short one in Wales. Learnt a lot. In Japan especially, despite their tendency to step in and correct my mistakes! I have also done two one week violin making courses in Cremona - on the second of those the skill level needed was above my capability at the time (I was slow), so the tutor hollowing a back could do about four in the time it took me to do one, so I didn't cover as much as I hoped.

I also did an antique restoration course in the Cotswolds. I left this part way through as to my mind the teacher was a bodger.

Mike recommends David Charlsworth in Devon. He's in Bideford so not very far from Bristol. I spent some time there (5 days as a recall) a few years ago and it was excellent. I was very focussed on particular jointing techniques (hidden dovetails and tapered hidden dovetails) and the course was valuable to improve my skills in a narrow area.
 

Jacob

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Just keep making stuff, well mistakes and stuff.
Make more difficult things each time. .....
Hmm dunno I always think making repeats of the same thing is best learning practice. By the time you've made 10 off you should be getting good at it and much faster. If you just make one it's a prototype in development.
This is the secret of the superlative quality of traditional products - continual incremental improvement of the same thing.
For instance - I'm getting back into turning and turning a nice knob is no prob. But turning 8 identical knobs is another level altogether. :oops:
 
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akirk

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Again, thank you for the kind comments and ideas... to answer some of the points raised... Tom - I actually do have a number of hand planes - and even used one the other day :) however owning them doesn't of itself equate to any expertise in either sharpening or using them - I have a range of hand tools from japanese saws to tenon saws, hand planes to frestsaws and jigsaws... I also have machinery - planer / thicknesser / router table / mitre saw / lathe / bandsaw (though too small and needs upgrading!) / sander / Sorby Pro Edge - and then lots of more normal tools - power drills to dremels / pin guns to air compressors etc. - so the workshop is fairly well equipped - lack of achievement is definitely about lack of skill, not lack of equipment!

I am quite self-aware in terms of how I learn, and I don't find it as easy to learn from a youtube video as someone showing me / my trying / someone correcting me etc. so I do think that having that 1:1 basis is important to me... equally I think it is perhaps a luxury, (but why not) to consider doing it at my workshop - I appreciate that I would have to pay someone for their time, but I can see it accelerating the learning - plus making it logisitically much easier to do 'homework' rather than having two locations in which to work...

Paul - that In Bristol Studio looks interesting - I will see if I can get in contact... maybe just find some local people and ask!
 

johnnyb

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I reckon id be laughed out of most joiners shops if I made stuff like I do. making modern windows and doors etc has little in the way of hand tools. more useful would be cnc...stuff. setting up large machines. planning production etc etc. these courses are non existant but get a job and someone will show you how to get on.
many times in my life I've learned hopelessly out of date/niche skills its something I'm really adept at. like the time I spent years gilding. or blacksmithing. when I left school I spent 4 years learning lathes and millers(it was mostly useless but I liked it) it never made me any money but I loved being immersed in old skills
if you think perfecting secret mitred dog tooth dovetails over 12 months is useful.......join the club.
ps the best archaic skills are never taught in courses only by crazy tedious devotion damhikt
 

Jameshow

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I am a bit more distant than Bristol, but I attended each of the four one-week courses offered by David Charlesworth in north Devon. I looked for similar courses in Germany, but did not find any that suited me or were accepting students who not part of a multi-year apprenticeship program. There are sometimes a couple of one to five day specialist courses with Dictum in Germany, but these are infrequent and don't appeal to me.

I realized the only realistic opportunity I had to attend a quality woodworking course on this side of the Atlantic was to find someone in the UK. At the time, there were a few short courses at other places, but the round trip airfare to attend was a bit too much. I hope @David C will resume teaching when conditions allow because I've recommended him to several of my friends here.
Defo on the birthday wish list.....!


Cheers James
 
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Ollie78

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Hmm dunno I always think making repeats of the same thing is best learning practice. By the time you've made 10 off you should be getting good at it and much faster. If you just make one it's a prototype in development.
This is the secret of the superlative quality of traditional products - continual incremental improvement of the same thing.
For instance - I'm getting back into turning and turning a nice knob is no prob. But turning 8 identical knobs is another level altogether. :oops:
I see your point and agree in a way.
Especially about the incremental nature of improvement.
I think there is skills overlap with most projects. You always need to start by selecting, dimensioning and preparing the wood no matter the project, so this will be easy to practice as you must do it every time.
What you do with the prepared material is where you can add new skills to the list. Do a couple of things with mitres then try a dovetail etc.
Soon you find the things you couldn't do to be second nature.

Ollie
 

Ttrees

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This recent thread might be of interest

As well as this one, which I'm guessing is the one I've been searching for

Especially taking hand planes into account, the majority of part one if you will, in any series...
I strongly think anyone who hasn't got the results they've wanted, then they haven't found the right tutor, and seemingly have picked up bad habits.
Over 90% of the hand plane tutor-age videos on youtube leaves very much to be desired.
Try Charlesworth's methods, or at least compare to most, night and day.

The way I see it is start as you mean to go on, and don't expect the results you want if you can't see what you're doing, again get a good lamp which can cast shadows and movable either side of the cut.
Most youtubes are missing that, and for anything precision it's pure ridiculous most of the time not having one, big panels of LED's won't help you here.

Have a look at this video which excellently demonstrates casting shadows and the use of a proper lamp, not just for curves or facets though, a must for everything from the get go.



All the best
Tom
 

Craig22

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I learnt from a guy in Ross on Wye. He's alas moved away and retired. Because of (self-employed) work commitments, I could only do two or three days every few weeks. But that accrued a couple in months in total. I would drive from near Abingdon in Oxfordshire to Ross each day, which involved setting off at about 6:30am and getting back about 8pm.

He worked on the basis of (a) tool sharpening and tuning and (b) what do you want to make? So under his tutelage I made a classic oak chest of drawers - frame and panel, hand cut dovetailed drawers, dust panels etc. Still a source of joy with drawers moving with silky accuracy.

Then at home I built my own Klausz bench, tool racks, and acquired power and hand tools. Currently building an oak frame and sapele panel headboard for the bed.

Anyway - it is worth looking around. Although an opportunity to learn from David Charlesworth is something not something to pass up.
 
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