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Hard to imagine a better formula for learning woodworking

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Review by cutndried posted 02-22-2016 01:32 PM 3629 views 3 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Hard to imagine a better formula for learning woodworking Hard to imagine a better formula for learning woodworking No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I have been puttering away at woodworking for several years on my own, but wanted to get a better grounding in the craft and accelerate the curve of my learning. My preferred method of learning is intensive immersion in the subject, so the 12 week intensive furniture-making course at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Rockport, Maine was appealing.

All my hopes were met by the course. It was expensive, at $7450, but that is on a par with similar duration training at other top locations. The facility is top-notch, with plenty of space, loads of hand and power tools, and a wonderful policy of allowing access to the facility around the clock (no machine work 9 PM to 5 AM however). It is in a somewhat rural setting, but that is a benefit, as there is less distraction from the work at hand, and living expenses are not as bad as in some urban areas.

The course focuses on hand tool skills initially, then “powers” through some projects utilizing power tools also, and ends with a project incorporating curved work, via bent laminations, or steam bending, or veneer work. You end up making several pieces of furniture in the course, but I always felt the focus was more on process, technique, and learning rather than cranking out a requisite amount of projects. I was particularly pleased that the projects all involved coming up with designs of our on, which I had not done in the past. One is forced to expand and deepen one’s understanding of furniture by the design process. Besides the instruction and project work there were field trips to large and small shops and discussions of the commercial side of woodworking and how to approach creating a career in the craft.

I have spent 20 years of my life in school, and would rate these teachers among the best I have ever had (particular kudos to Tim Rousseau, the prinicpal instructor in the course). They were very knowledgeable, gave time and attention to all the students, working with each at his/her own level, and were fun and easy to get along with. The other outstanding feature about the Center was the great atmosphere and attitude of everyone there. Everyone was happy, focused on their work, and happy to help in any way they could. There may be better woodworking schools out there, but it is hard for me to imagine what they would do to be better than this place.




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cutndried

4 posts in 1425 days



9 comments so far

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

8489 posts in 2499 days


#1 posted 02-22-2016 02:03 PM

We’ve driven by the school several times while on vacation in Maine and I have always wanted to stop in and see the exhibitions of student work, but couldn’t coordinate it. I’ve heard several good reports about the school.

Good luck on your furniture making adventures.

-- I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam

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ellen35

2738 posts in 3603 days


#2 posted 02-22-2016 02:18 PM

Took a 2 week course there last spring and it was a great experience. I learned so much and corrected a bunch of things I was doing incorrectly. This little gem of a woodworking school is well worth a trip.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View NormG's profile

NormG

6260 posts in 3175 days


#3 posted 02-23-2016 05:10 AM

I am glad you had such a positive experience wile there. I have heard of and seen some of the students work.

-- Norman - I never never make a mistake, I just change the design.

View BigMig's profile

BigMig

467 posts in 2784 days


#4 posted 02-24-2016 09:04 PM

Thanks for your in-depth review. I’m curious: is it your intention to forge a career in wood, or was it to develop and hone skills, etc.

I too have been puttering with wood projects, but I am frustrated with the pace of my progress. And so I’m looking for a school opportunity that’ll help me hone/improve my basic skills and learn how to make better joinery, etc.

-- Mike from Lansdowne, PA

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ellen35

2738 posts in 3603 days


#5 posted 02-24-2016 11:43 PM

BigMig,
This is the place to go. They have a “basic woodworking” course that is top notch. You really learn. It should be called “basic furniture making and woodworking”. It is 2 weeks of learning at a fast pace and practicing on your own. the school is open 24/7 to students.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

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cutndried

4 posts in 1425 days


#6 posted 02-26-2016 02:04 AM

BigMig,
I am not going to be pursuing a career in woodworking, but most of the students in the course were headed in that direction. I am not sure a 2 week course would be long enough to give you a solid footing to pursue high-end furniture making. The 12 week course is a fair beginning in that direction, but the 9 month course they offer would be even better for preparation for a career path. Not that one couldn’t get there other ways over time. Obviously the money is an issue, as is the time. Also keep in mind that a career in furniture making is not a high probability pathway to lots of money.

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ellen35

2738 posts in 3603 days


#7 posted 02-26-2016 12:41 PM

The 2 week course is often a pre-requisite for the 9 month course. It is also the first 2 weeks of the 12 week course.

-- "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." Voltaire

View iminmyshop's profile

iminmyshop

287 posts in 2165 days


#8 posted 03-03-2016 12:45 AM

We look forward to seeing your projects. Can you post the projects you did while there? I took the 3 month intensive class a couple of years ago. It changed my game. With just 12 students and 2 teachers always there, everyone in the class progressed amazingly. They teach you how wood moves and to make traditional joinery so your pieces will last generations. They teach a bit of design too. Doing things with curves, something I never touched for lack of knowledge before the course is par for the course now and literally adds a whole new dimension to your woodworking. I too highly recommend the school.

-- http://www.alansfinewoodworking.com/

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Jake965

2 posts in 557 days


#9 posted 05-16-2017 05:23 AM

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