Home sweet home! We got home last night after spending the rest of the weekend in San Diego. It was a pretty relaxing trip since we didn’t really have anything else planned beyond checking out the college and that was all done by Thursday evening.
First off, thank you to all those who commented on my last entry! There were definitely some good points made. In this entry I will give you an overview of my experience and share some of my thoughts. I think writing it down will help me as I evaluate my experience and decide what I want to do from here.
About a week before I was planning to go out to California I called and left a message for Beverly Scott, the cabinet and furniture technology secretary. She called me back and I told her when I would be in California and that I would like to tour their facility and talk to the department heads. She was very helpful and passed my message along to the full time instructors. I got a call from Russ Filbeck (one of the full time instructors there for over 20 yrs) soon after and we talked for about 30 minutes. I told him what my goals are and he gave me some good information and we set up a time to meet. I also got a voicemail from Chris Feddersohn (currently the instructor that’s pretty much in charge of the program) letting me know that they were expecting me and would be happy to show me around.
When I got to the College last Thursday (3/18/10) I met Beverly at her office and she introduced me to Russ. He walked me through their 3 classrooms and 3 machine rooms. They’ve got some pretty impressive machinery and plenty of space to accommodate whatever project I would want to work on. Here’s a link to their website where they have some pictures of what I saw…
I did see a lot of great machinery while I was there but I did see some students using hand tools at the benches in the classrooms.
Russ took me outside to show me where the students have access to some storage units where they can keep the projects they’re working on while they’re not in class. He walked us by the sawmill that they have there at the school too. They have an urban forestry program that has been up and running for the last few years. The school sells the lumber to the students at a greatly discounted rate. Russ also showed me the “commercial lumber” room where they keep several domestic species on hand for the students to purchase as well (maple, poplar, walnut, etc.).
Over all I think they have a great facility and that they offer a great program to anyone who wants to learn the art of fine furniture (or custom cabinetry as they offer a specific course designed to train people how to work in a cabinet shop). Here's a link to their site where they talk about each program.
The Cabinet and Furniture Tech degrees that they offer don’t give much in the way of any business training. Palomar is a community college though so I will probably continue my education in business by taking appropriate courses outside the furniture program.
I don’t want to commit 100% to it yet but I’m about ninety percent sure that I will be enrolling in their program and starting this fall. Although I would love to be able to make a great living as a furniture designer and craftsman I think that as I pursue my woodworking education I will also get training in a field that offers a bit more financial security. I think that I’ll probably get a job where I can make a good living and then do furniture on the side. If it takes off from there then great, but if not then I will still have received a very fulfilling education in a field that I love. Regardless of what I end up doing as a full time profession, woodworking will always be a big part of my life.
-- Spencer, Gilbert Az (http://www.azwoodshop.com)