I decided to take some time out of my schedule and blog about a woodworking school/workshop in Taipei, Taiwan. Before I get to writing this post I decided to let you know that this post is going to be a little long because I feel like the I need to put it in one post as opposed to several parts like I normally do.
Normally, it can be quite difficult when searching for woodworking schools/workshops outside USA, Canada, Australia and England, but finding one that also teaches in English is even more difficult. So, when I was doing research on Taiwan for my upcoming trip, I stumbled across on Facebook woodworking school/workspace in Taipei. To this day, I still do not know how I located this school. At any rate, I was thinking about coming to Taipei and staying for a couple months and going to their school/workspace, so I could blog about my experience with the school. However timing was not on my side, so I opted just to come visit and tell the world about this woodworking school/workspace.
The school/workspace is Contemporary Woodworking Center, and it teaches weekend warriors to build and create.The owner of the school is Thomas Chen, and he has been described as a woodworking aficionado. The school lies in prime real estate for Taipei, so the fact the owner of the place opted to make a woodworking school there, instead of a more profitable business, just shows the level of appreciation he has for woodworkers. The two teachers that man the school are Harrison (left) and Tim(right).
Harrison has 8 years of schooling. He started out in high school and later decided to take it another step further by going to school at the National Taipei University of Technology, where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in woodworking. His main job at CWC is the administration of the website/Facebook. He also assists students with their projects while trying to work on his own projects.
Tim also has a bachelor degree, but in Architecture. Sound familiar? It sounds very familiar to me, because when I was in school there must have been a dozen or more person that had come from the field. Tim’s primary job is teaching the students at the school. He instructs struggling students with their projects, so that they can get completed before their sessions end. Tim can teach anyone in English (or Chinese, of course), and after having a good long conversion with him, I can attest that his comprehension is quite overwhelming considering he does not get an opportunity to do it very often. Tim also teaches Chinese joinery, so if you are wanting to learn about Chinese joinery in English then do not hesitate to contact him on Facebook.
As you can see in the video above, the school has everything from table saws to lathes. They carry a wide range of wood types that are imported from North America. They have ample workspace for any woodworker to utilize, and enough clamps for everyone, so one does not need to beg, barter or steal them from other woodworkers.
Currently the school is using these two books to help them teach (top picture). The rest were pictures I took while visiting several bookstores in Taiwan. Some of them may look familiar :)
The hand tools the school uses is Veritas tools. That is right! Canadian-made Veritas!. Now, those of you who read this blog know my deep-seeded love for their tools. If you do not have hand planes, chisels or any of this sort of stuff, you can rent them from the school. Tim also said that most of the time they lend them to students for no additional cost as long as they do not need to use it all the time.
The school offers up 5 types of classes:
Dovetail – 8 sessions for 8,000 nt (250 usd)
Mortise and Tenon – 12 sessions for 15,000 nt (470 usd)
Lathe – 12 sessions for 15,000 nt (470 usd)
Woodworking Technology – 6 sessions for 10,000 nt (312 usd)
Woodcarving – Ask for costs and sessions.
Each session is from 1:00pm to 7:00pm, Friday to Monday. You can come in on Tuesday, but that day is usually reserved for catch up/cleanup day. The sessions can run consecutively in case you are on vacation or short sabbatical.
In each of the classes, the school just doesn’t teach you the skills. The student picks a project and Tim instructs him or her through the building process, so that after the session the student has something to show to family and friends.
I also discussed with Harrison and Tim, the possibility of just renting shop space, so anyone that already has experience can use the facility. They advised me that the cost of each session is 1250 nt (39 usd). That works out to be $6.50 per hour. Tim did mention to me that they were developing a separate workspace in the back to rent out by the month. Feel free to contact them on Facebook if you have any additional questions.
The CWC hosts from time to time a meetup that allows the students to mingle and discuss their projects. It also hosts events that allow students to feel like they are giving back to the environment by planting trees and conservation.
Where is this wonderful school/workspace?
The picture on the left is the building where the school is. The other pictures are of the entrance to the school located on B1 in the building.
Near Nanjing Sanmin station (Green Line MRT)
This is the only school in Taipei city, there are two just outside of Taipei, go here you would like to know more information.
During my time at the school I got a chance to sit down and I ask Harrison and Tim several questions about the school and woodworking.
The picture above is Harrison and Tim with some of their associated works.
Harrison and Tim Questions
1.What is you favorite wood to work with?
Harrison – Oak
Tim – Maple, Oak, American Walnut and Mahogany
2.What tool is your must have?
Harrison and Tim – Hand tools i.e planes, chisels and Japanese saws
3. Where do you see woodworking going in the next 100 years?
Harrison and Tim – Teaching more about conservation, Information Technology i.e more ebooks and emagazines less paper books, magazines and 3D printers
4. Do you use Sketchup?
Harrison – yes
Tim – no, but uses Autocad
5. Who wins in the movie Batman vs Superman?
Harrison and Tim – Wonderwomen :)
Question about the school.
1. Is there a woodworking website or store in Taipei that I can point people to?
2. Do you host any fairs at the school?
No, but they would like to.
3. Are there any woodworking clubs in Taiwan?
4.Is there an Etsy.com for Taiwan?
No, wait what is etsy? I explain what etsy is, and still the answer is no.
5. I have been to several Asian countries, but they do not have woodworking magazines. Why aren’t there any magazines?
Harrison and Tim – It is culturally different than in North America, England and Australia. Tim did mention that Japan has magazines, but unfortunately I have not seen one yet.
I usually give a hint about what my next post will be about, but this time I really am not sure what I will be writing about, so until then…
-- The Gringo Woodworker, http://www.thegringowoodworker.com