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Forum topic by a1Jim posted 01-05-2010 06:16 AM 3533 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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117090 posts in 3572 days

01-05-2010 06:16 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

It’s that time again my woodworking adult classes for my local community collage start again . In my class I teach all ranges of woodworkers it’s only once a week and they pick a project they want to build. Here’s were I can use some help during these classes I have whats called a workshop (a demonstrating and or discussion on a particular subject) I like to start with the subjects in order of things they should know before beginning a woodworking project. I always start with saftey no matter what the subject. So if you would list in order of importance the work shops that can help even the novice. So it would go like this ,Basics, wood.measuring, table saw routers.etc. Of course I’ve done this before but I thought I’d see if I could get a fresh perspective with your help. It will help whether you brand new to woodworking of an old timer.
Thanks for your help.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

24 replies so far

View sandhill's profile


2128 posts in 3919 days

#1 posted 01-05-2010 06:50 AM

Hi Jim, I would think one of the more important items to point out is methods of getting the same results’ for example You don’t need a mortise machine to cut a mortise, a hand bit and brace and a chisel will do the job (maybe better). A lot of new woodworkers are under the impression they need fancy new machines and power tools and they don’t. You may want to cover how to figure out what proportions are when designing or deciding what to build.

View JAGWAH's profile


929 posts in 3079 days

#2 posted 01-05-2010 06:58 AM

I taught Theatre Stagecraft 3 years at our community college .

I always started with safety issues sharing the reasons for guards and push sticks etc. But I would have them qualify their right to use a machine by learning how to tune, adjust, clean, know all the parts and the safety concerns. You get the idea. I followed this with shop organization, material identification and cleaning. Not just cleaning the shop but how to properly clean, check for damage and put away tools.

The kids built most of all the sets and while I built a lot of the more difficult pieces they were involved side by side with me.

My classes were mostly women and frankly they outshown every male I had in the classes. I wish there were more women carpenters than I see nowadays.

I applaude you doing this. I never had a better time I my life than teaching those kids.

-- ~Just A Guy With A Hammer~

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13603 posts in 3336 days

#3 posted 01-05-2010 07:00 AM

sharp pencil , calibrate tape measure to fixed rule , check squares for square ,work areas and floors clean of debris .
check tools for loose nuts bolts and parts , check belts , calibrate tools for square , check that guards functioning properly .clean and wax tool surfaces , check cords and plugs and receptacles , safety gear functional
i.e. dust masks , hearing protection , safety goggles , fire extinguishers , counter brushes , brooms and dust
pans , vacumn system , air pressure set properly , ventilation for dust and finishing chemicals .

good subject jim , we will all get something from this !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View rcs47's profile


190 posts in 3124 days

#4 posted 01-05-2010 08:37 AM


It’s great that you are sharing your talent with others. The idea of going over a list of safety items for every machine at the start sounds great, but I think you will loose many of them, and they will not retain what you have told them. Maybe a just-in-time training approach might hold them a little more.

You could start from the design. If they have a plan, then what materials do they want to use? If they are thinking of using one material, maybe you know of another that will be better, and why. What should they look for when they buy their material? What is the assembly plan, i.e., materials needed or cut list, and equipment that will be used to machine the materials. This could even be one of your class topics, giving you a chance to go over what each machine does. Then each student can begin thinking about how they will build their project.

Once you have an assembly plan for each student, you will quickly see that almost every, if not every, student will be using the table saw, along with miter saw, radial arm (if available), router, sanders, various hand tools, etc.

The assembly plans will also let you see, and possible direct some students to other machines that will simplify or improve their work. Maybe a planer so they are not using standard available lumber, or a shaper for a different edge treatment. These changes will add to these student’s safety and skills training needs.

For an example, I have to think of the process (sorry, it’s the engineer in me):

Handling and cutting sheet goods. How are they going to move the sheet goods to the saw assuming they are at the shop? Is there equipment involved (fork lift) that requires special skills? Should they carry the sheets any special way so they don’t get hurt? What safety concerns/skills and equipment should they have/know before they start using the table saw or panel saw? Is it OK to run it by yourself when you are cutting a full sheet?

Good luck!

-- Doug - As my Dad taught me, you're not a cabinet maker until you can hide your mistakes.

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18267 posts in 3671 days

#5 posted 01-05-2010 09:09 AM

No wonder you are so good on here!! You are a pro teacher too!

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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Bob Kollman

1798 posts in 3186 days

#6 posted 01-05-2010 09:41 AM

I have been a machinist for 30 years I am used to working with tools spinning at high rpm, but the table saw was still very intimidating to me because I was so opened and exposed. What had the greatest impact on me was watching a saw stop commercial where the guy tells the story of how he lost his fingers at work, then a doctor explains how the hand is drawn into the blade. That video is downloadable from saw stop, and it would be the perfect introduction to shop safety. Wood working can change your life, but a woodworking accident can also change your life…

-- Bob Kenosha Wi.

View JasonIndy's profile


187 posts in 3430 days

#7 posted 01-05-2010 11:58 AM

This is a really good thread. I took my first two classes (introductory, of course) last year, my observations:

1. There is a logical order to machining wood, so we learned to use tools in the following order: jointer, planer, jointer, then table saw. I liked this because it was a logical flow and it was easy to remember the order because that’s the order we learned them in. Particularly with the jointer and the table saw, graphic examples of exactly what happens to your hands and fingers should you not follow proper safety protocol punctuated the lectures well. Also, when you understand how a tool works and what it’s intended to do, the safety issue becomes a simpler concept, IMHO.
2. Initially, all we did was learn how to dimension stock, measure correctly, find center on a board, etc. This was nice because it teaches the importance of precision, and how precision and repeatability are often more important than accuracy.
3. The first class was just about wood. How it grows, how it’s milled, how and why it moves, the different kinds of sawing, etc.
4. My biggest regret was trying so hard to listen and NOT writing anything down. I would find myself making a mistake around week 6 or 7 because it was explained in week 2 and I had already forgotten. I was always a scrupulous note-taker in school but it’s been a while so I was rusty.

View McLeanVA's profile


491 posts in 3429 days

#8 posted 01-05-2010 02:50 PM

I think joints in general are very important to woodworking. How do you join any two pieces of wood together? In one of my favorite Woodworking books, they cover all of the possibilities using a piece of walnut and a piece of maple for contrast. It really opens a student’s mind and makes them think beyond just nailing stuff together. Some joints are concealed, same are displayed and others are showcased.

Anyways, good luck on the class Jim.

-- Measure, cut, curse, repeat.

View 8iowa's profile


1580 posts in 3756 days

#9 posted 01-05-2010 03:03 PM

It’s been many years since my Jr. High shop classes, but our instructor, Mike Rodich (see, I remember it well) drilled into us the fundmentals of hand tools. We had to learn how to use the hand plane. I believe the first project was to square a block.

Today I have some great power tools, but the hand tools are used as well on every project.

-- "Heaven is North of the Bridge"

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3320 days

#10 posted 01-05-2010 03:20 PM

Speaking from experience, beginners want to get in there and “do” and make something.

If you are able to make a class where you start with a plan which will guide them to use one or two different tools each time, then you start the class with safety rules, then demo, then supervision. What you are going for is being able to “certify” the individual to use a bandsaw on their own (for example). For each tool, after they have accomplished the task you can then show them different ways they could have accomplished the same thing.

Theory – do – theory for each class.

Also, show people how to properly sharpen hand tools… And how to use a scraper.

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3329 days

#11 posted 01-05-2010 05:51 PM

Hi Jim. I just wrote out some ideas for you and lost my connection and everything I wrote. I guess it’s one of those days. Some call it a “Kverk” day here in Norway. I’ll get back to you on this later after my wife has be placated.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View a1Jim's profile


117090 posts in 3572 days

#12 posted 01-05-2010 06:12 PM

Hey every one thanks for the great input I’ve got some new perspective and a number of changes I think I’ll add.
Remember this is an adult class and it’s only once a week for 2 1/2 hours.
How it’s been done in previously is at the first class we review each machine and it’s safe use plus find a project for students who don’t have one, Then in all of the rest of the classes the first 1/2 hour will be the
work shop(the place I’m looking for suggestions for) then on to each students projects.
Thanks again for you help and suggestions.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Mark's profile


1807 posts in 3269 days

#13 posted 01-05-2010 06:19 PM

Depends which shop teacher we talk about…my college carpentry teacher was great…he knows what hes talking about. As for my high school shop teacher, I taught him. When i showed up in grade 10 he thought I was just going to grab a plan and builld a small 2 second project. Nah I sat in the desk, designed my project, and the next day showed up with a huge stock of wood to mill out. I asked him eventually for the buscuit jointer and he says “what is that”. So I got him to open the tool storage and way ducked down deep covered with a thick layer of dust was the buscuit joiner. I had to show him how to use it, tune it, etc. After that class was done, down the road I had him asking me to build projects he had on the side for him and he wanted me in the shop to help teach the class and tune up his tools. He was pretty funny.

-- M.K.

View BillyJ's profile


622 posts in 3198 days

#14 posted 01-05-2010 06:20 PM

Jim: As JAGWAH and most others said – safety first. When I was in wood-shop class, I watched a student drill the instructors hand on the first day – neither was paying attending to what was going on. A healthy respect for power tools is always the best beginning point.

Measuring & reading prints next. I’d bet most people new to woodworking can’t do either.

Hand tools then power tools. I can’t tell you how many people I have run into that can’t hammer a nail, use a flat-head screwdriver properly, or even use a hand-saw. Even something as simple as using an adjustable wrench is difficult for some people (applying pressure on the adjustable jaw rather than the fixed).

Start with building a box using various fastening techniques (nail, screw, glue) and different joints. Getting a square box is a challenge, plus almost everything made comes from a box design.

I like the theory idea, too. Learning how wood reacts is something I picked up after about a year – should have learned it sooner.

Wish you were around MI – I’d love to take your class!

-- I've never seen a tree that I wouldn't like to repurpose into a project. I love the smell of wood in the morning - it smells like victory.

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 3466 days

#15 posted 01-05-2010 06:36 PM

Patron you forgot “EMS standing by”.

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