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JD Lohr School of Woodworking -- Woodworking 101

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Review by ben posted 02-13-2008 06:43 AM 5730 views 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
JD Lohr School of Woodworking -- Woodworking 101 No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

Short version: this was the best money I’ve spent on anything related to wood, period. Jeff and his apprentice Rob were fantastic—knowledgeable, organized and enthusiastic.

Details

I have not taken a wood course of any sort since high school… I can’t imagine this being any more hands-on. The first day began with a primer on wood—grain, growth, selection, and even how ‘non-professionals’ can be most successful at the local hardwood dealer. But after that, it was constant learning, seeing and doing. Jeff organizes the course around a hall table project, but as he frequently reminded us, the course is not about the project—it’s about the techniques and knowledge needed to complete the project.

Throughout the instruction, Jeff delivers lessons that clearly come from his decades of experience, focusing on

  1. Safety,
  2. Quality, and
  3. Efficiency

I’m sure those sound obvious, but every lesson is filled with the kind of detail that only comes with experience. The course spends a lot of time up front on how to use the most important tools in his shop: table saw, planer, jointer, router and finishing tools, with attention given to hand planes, scrapers, the band saw and lots of other things in smaller quantity. Jeff also sets up a fair number of brilliantly designed jigs, many of which have gone through 3 or 4 iterations of improvements. In addition to teaching basic “how to cut” types of things, he spends time on calibration and maintenance, focusing on practical ways for home woodworkers to achieve the nirvana of “square”. Of course all of this tool work is useless without understanding joinery, so all of the joinery required for the table is covered, as well as many things outside the scope of the project. Jeff does his best to give the (literal) 3-hour tour of finishing, saying that finishing deserves at least a week of its own, so he’s only giving an introduction. (Note that the table leaves unfinished.)

Honestly, the only complaint that I have about the class is that it’s over. If he offered a second course, I would be there in a heartbeat. All-in-all, it was top notch across the board. I felt engaged and educated throughout the class, and feel like I got a sweet deal at that price (around $1100 for weekend warrior, $900 for week long version).

If interested, check out:

http://www.jdlohrwood.com/services.htm

Don’t be fooled by the presentation on web site (I was concerned, too). Check out his work, and I think you’ll get a better idea of the quality:

http://www.jdlohrwood.com/prod07.htm

The shop is located in Limerick, PA, which is about 40 minutes north of Philly. From what the other students said, I got lucky to get in. These classes apparently sell out within minutes of opening, and I was lucky to be looking at the site after somebody had to cancel.

Feel free to message me if you have more specific questions.




View ben's profile

ben

158 posts in 2521 days



9 comments so far

View Karson's profile

Karson

34874 posts in 3051 days


#1 posted 02-13-2008 06:49 AM

Great review. nice job.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware karson_morrison@bigfoot.com †

View rikkor's profile

rikkor

11295 posts in 2525 days


#2 posted 02-13-2008 11:59 AM

Where is this located?

View ben's profile

ben

158 posts in 2521 days


#3 posted 02-13-2008 03:09 PM

Rikkor,

It’s in Limerick, PA, about 40 mins north of philly. (I put that, and a link to some of his work in the review, too.)

View JerryS's profile

JerryS

221 posts in 2261 days


#4 posted 07-09-2008 04:08 AM

Great review ,this place isn’t very far from me . Classes do full up fast , in fact the Basics 101 classes are filled until next year . I wish some of these courses were also geared to working people. I would love to take some but don’t have the free time during the day .

View ben's profile

ben

158 posts in 2521 days


#5 posted 07-09-2008 05:21 AM

Jerry,

Jeff does offer one weekend based course, but it fills quickly. However, at least 2 of the 12 slots in my class ended up being “replacements”, since people’s plans change, so you can always get on the list and see what happens. It’ll be worth it :)

-b

View Jim's profile

Jim

29 posts in 2441 days


#6 posted 05-25-2009 09:20 PM

I just returned from attending Jeff’s school. BEST darn woodoworking experience I’ve ever had. The class is offered to all levels: beginner, intermediate and advanced. I’ve been woodworking for a number of years and considered myself intermediate. I was basically self-taught with an occassional class at the local Woodcraft store.

The amount of info was impressive: from the fundamentals of wood, wood movement, preparation of rough stock, joinery, gluing, tablesaw safety, tool maintenance…the list goes on. 6 days, 8-430, 1/2 hour for lunch. No fluff, no tool promotions, just a great instructor with a burning desire to pass his knowledge on to others who love the craft.

For those thinking about getting more serious about woodworking, I’d strongly recommend this class.

-- Jim, Boise ID - Attitude is everything

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a1Jim

112068 posts in 2228 days


#7 posted 05-25-2009 10:14 PM

Thanks for the review . Glad you had a positive experience.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

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MontyC

1 post in 1131 days


#8 posted 10-24-2011 10:56 AM

I attended Jeff’s basic class in August, and recommend it highly.

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twollin

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#9 posted 09-15-2014 09:07 PM

I just finished Jeff’s basic class (he also has an advanced joinery class and a veneering class) and I was so impressed. As a raw beginner, I had a lot of concerns about safety and skills (as others have noted here) and Jeff and his other three teachers (it’s four teachers for 11 students) emphasize safety and working safely and efficiently. The amount of sheer personalized attention that we all got (no matter what level of skill and experience we had) was truly mind-boggling to me. Other people have detailed what is taught and how terrific the teaching is. Looking around and seeing the teachers working with the students at all levels, it was very apparent that besides the issues of general woodworking skills building, the teachers took a very personalized approach. I was a complete beginner – with a lot of fear of working with the machines. The teachers were patient but very firm with me in terms of teaching me to be deliberate about everything I was doing, having the various items like push sticks and so on right within reach, getting a box or platform to stand on (I’m short and have short arms) to work in a safe position. I needed that. It took all the fear out of it for me. On the other side, I saw them working with people who had a lot of experience and who obviously were looking for very specific help in particular question areas. There were folks there with lots of experience but who’d had an machine accident or injury and were trying to get back into the swing of doing things safely to get back to doing what they loved. We all left with a table (though one student from California took his home as a flat-pack to get it on the plane), but everyone’s was a little bit different and reflected people’s skills and growth. It was a great class, worth every penny. Before I left, I talked to them about ‘next steps’ and we came up with basically some ideas for the next 12 months so that I can get ready to take the next class.

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