wood-turning classes?

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Blog entry by swirlsandburls posted 12-10-2009 03:05 AM 1566 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi all, I am thinking about offering beginner-to-intermediate turning classes in my workshop. I enjoy teaching, especially to enthusiastic students. I am looking for inputs from the Lumberjocks community about the ins and outs of offering paid classes to a variety of age groups. I am leaning towards very small class sizes, perhaps even one on one apprenticeship approaches for the more serious students. What do you think?

visit my website to see the kinds of work I can teach about:


-- patience is a virtue ... in woodworking, cooking, and life in general

3 comments so far

View Hacksaw007's profile


613 posts in 3185 days

#1 posted 12-10-2009 03:54 AM

John, looked your shop pictures over on your web site. Very nice. Much larger that mine. I taught at the college level for over 10 years in a wood working program and I loved it (Part-time). There is something to be said on the event of passing on your know how to some else who wants to know. I am considering doing some thing like that myself. I have 5 lathes now and have just ordered a Jet 1220vs. I don’t live in a very populated area, and my small shop here at my house is small. I was leaning on maybe setting up a turning club on a small scale, on my smaller lathes. I noticed that you showed two lathes, a Nova(?) and a Jet, you would need a few more lathes I would guess, and the thought process of what the cost of your time would be. Set up what those classes would and could be. So that you can structure what needs to be taught, what tools they would need, and what you would need, wood costs, tools. And how long the classes should take and cost. Or, you could set up a small turning club, see how that goes, stucture the costs to the member(s). Out of that you might be able to offer classes that those members and non members could take. This might be an easier route to take to work out the bugs, and to get your sea legs under you. Hope that helps! Nice work you do.

-- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

View Ken Waller's profile

Ken Waller

91 posts in 3166 days

#2 posted 12-13-2009 05:21 PM

Hi John,
Teaching is a very rewarding thing from a feel-good perspective and can also provide financial benefits (but you probably won’t retire early on the income). I taught an Introduction to Woodturning course for the (Ottawa) Valley Woodturners for 10 years and introduced about 250 folks to this great passtime. Since I retired out to the country, I have frequently looked at establishing similar courses. So far, I’ve kept it to free, low key, drop-ins. A couple of points you may want to consider:
1. Liability. Your liability increases significantly when you bring people into your shop for money. Check with your insurance company about liability coverage. If you weren’t considered a business befopre, you will be now. New insurance coverage could cost $1000 a year or more. That means you need several courses just to cover insurance.
2. Planning. Set up lesson plans. These will allow you to stay on track, proceed in an orderly fashion and provide consistancy.
3. Class size. If just you will be teaching, you need to be able to keep an eye on all students to ensure safety and technique are being followed. Again this can be a liability issue as, in a learning environment, the teacher is always responsible for the actions and outcomes of his students. Class size also links to how many lathes you need. From the size of your shop, I’d keep class size down to 2-3.
4. Motivation. What’s driving you. If it’s money, that’s one thing. If it’s the desire to help and pass on your knowledge, there are less risky but equally fulfilling options. You could offer courses through a local club or high school. Organize learning days in your shop or form a club yourself (if one does not exist in your area).
5. Time. Teaching is a lot more than the 3-4 hours of actual teaching. Planning and preparation will double or sometimes triple) your commitment.

You do very nice workand could pass along a lot of knowledge. Good luck.


-- Ken in Sharbot Lake, Ontario

View Jordan's profile


1400 posts in 3121 days

#3 posted 12-28-2009 06:17 AM

I’d sign up if I lived closer!


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