|Review by ben||posted 02-13-2008 06:43 AM||8118 views||0 times favorited||9 comments|
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.
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
- Quality, and
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:
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:
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.