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Classes vs. tools

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Forum topic by mnorman posted 02-08-2017 08:54 PM 1044 views 0 times favorited 43 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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mnorman

6 posts in 805 days


02-08-2017 08:54 PM

Topic tags/keywords: class hand tools

I’m just getting into woodworking as a hobby and have a little experience on the powertool side. I want to expand my skills in handtool use and am fortunate to have the Port Townsend Wood School in my area. They offer a popular 5 day class called Hand Tool Heaven which runs about $750. I’m very interested in taking this class but I’m struggling to decide if I should use the $750 to buy some hand tools and learn on my own or if I should fork out the money for the class and buy the tools at a later time, which might be a year or so later. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


43 replies so far

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chrisstef

17031 posts in 2845 days


#1 posted 02-08-2017 08:59 PM

I think there’s a lot of avenues out there to learn from but, with that said, we all learn differently. Some need that hands on experience, others can watch a couple videos and create the Mona Lisa. My fear is without repetition and usage of the tools, whatever you learn in class may be lost until you can get some tools of your own. If it were me, id spend the money on tools and park my fat butt in front of the computer and watch Paul Sellers, Peter Follansbee and St. Roy until my eyes bled. But that’s just me.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

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mnorman

6 posts in 805 days


#2 posted 02-08-2017 09:02 PM

Thanks chrisstef. That’s kind of how I’m leaning. I already watch a ton of videos online and am eager to start cutting some dovetails.

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KelleyCrafts

2680 posts in 578 days


#3 posted 02-08-2017 09:33 PM

Chrisstef brings up a really good point. You can learn this stuff but it really takes practice to be good at it. I second his hand tool guru list. I spend almost every night in bed before sleep watching a few YouTube videos or a Seller’s masterclass video. The Seller’s masterclass is like $15 a month. That’s like having a teacher right there and a slew of projects to watch. Each project is hours long broken into parts.

So yeah, that’s my revised recommendation. $15 a month with Seller’s and some hand tools.

-- http://kelleycrafts.com/ - pen blanks - knife scales - turning tools

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boatz

92 posts in 1490 days


#4 posted 02-08-2017 10:25 PM

I did the school first route and it helped me prioritize what tools to get. But as Christef said there is no substitute for practice and repetition

-- You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find, you'll get what you need

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OSU55

1426 posts in 1828 days


#5 posted 02-08-2017 10:46 PM

Depends on you. I do fine learning from reading as well as videos. Some need the instructor right there. If books work, find an old textbook for wood shop class, high school or vo tech. Covers all the basic tools and methods, hand and power. One advantage of these books is they arent trying to sell you something, a problem with a lot of web content these days.

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William Shelley

479 posts in 1308 days


#6 posted 02-08-2017 11:29 PM

Woodworking is mostly an art and everyone will do-over a project at some point. I would make sure to divert some of your funds towards purchasing cheap kiln dried framing lumber or pine 1-by material at your local home improvement store. It’s typically cheap enough that you can “waste” it by building something just to learn how to do it.

There was a thread a few weeks ago about someone who had no experience, but had spent several thousand dollars on walnut boards so that he could build a table instead of buying the table from Pottery Barn. I cringed so badly reading that thread because it was a perfect example of what not to do.

On the other hand, if you buy $20 of cheap lumber at home depot, build a table, and even if it falls apart, you’ve learned a lot and hopefully had fun and you probably spent less than one evening at the bar.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

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knotscott

7788 posts in 3214 days


#7 posted 02-08-2017 11:33 PM

It really depends on you. I’m hands on and generally learn well on my own, so $750 would seem extremely expensive for a class. If you’re a reader, maybe some books for a lot less money would help….videos are a good idea too. $750 buys some nice tools!

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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Kelly

1821 posts in 2783 days


#8 posted 02-08-2017 11:52 PM

Having that school near you is gold. However, I know people who took computer classes and didn’t have one to use at home and it really compromised their computer talents. As such, I’m with Chris.

I’ve been doing woodwork going into five decades. During that time, I’ve never worked for anyone else or taken a class. Until the Net, I relied on books and experimentation. After the Net, YouTube and other sources proved invaluable. For example, I’d never so much as touched a wood lathe, but was able to figure out how to turn a lot of fire wood into keepables and do it safely.

In short, I’d vote for tools. You can perfect your techniques with time and for free. Too, if the class is any good, it will still be around on down the road.

One more parting thought: If you have a school near you, it is likely you also have a lot of hobbyist woodworkers. Consider running a craigslist ad.

If you were to start a woodworking hobbyist association, many publications allow you to post announcements for free. You can hold the first few meetings at the library or other places that allow associations to meet there for free.

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JCamp

476 posts in 389 days


#9 posted 02-09-2017 12:13 AM

I’d go with the tools first. I’m new to hand tools too. I just started by buying a tool An cleaning it up and learning to use it then buying another. My order was a old hand saw (I try to get the ones that are still in good shape) then a dovetail saw (It was new) then chisels (cheap set) then a few hand planes. I’m still learning an restoring the handplanes. I did also bug a few crank drills but that’s just cause they were to good a deal to pass up

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

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Loren

9633 posts in 3486 days


#10 posted 02-09-2017 12:51 AM

well, if you had $750 in sharpening equipment
and nice hand tools sitting on your bench,
you might be motivated to read an article
or two about sharpening and so forth.

btw, I’m a fan of the bow saw for dovetailing.
Never had a real western saw set up for
dovetailing but I do cut little ones with
a dozuki (it gets annoying with the larger
dovetails).

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mnorman

6 posts in 805 days


#11 posted 02-09-2017 12:56 AM

Great feedback. Thanks everyone.

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TopamaxSurvivor

18091 posts in 3514 days


#12 posted 02-09-2017 06:19 PM



Thanks chrisstef. That s kind of how I m leaning. I already watch a ton of videos online and am eager to start cutting some dovetails.

- mnorman


That is how I learned to cut them. Roy said tails first and I took it from there. But, I was raised on a farm without many power tools. Just depends on your experience and confidence level with them. Good luck.

-- 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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corelz125

314 posts in 815 days


#13 posted 02-11-2017 01:14 AM

Go for the tools, figuring it out on your own teaches more than a class can. Also then you will learn how to fix your mistakes.

View waho6o9's profile

waho6o9

8034 posts in 2415 days


#14 posted 02-11-2017 01:29 AM

I’d take the class first and absorb everything you can which will shorten the learning curve and you’ll start off

with good habits, knowledge, and a list of tools to get and in the proper order for things you want to make.

Have fun and good luck on your endeavors.

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TheFridge

8328 posts in 1325 days


#15 posted 02-11-2017 01:49 AM



I think there s a lot of avenues out there to learn from but, with that said, we all learn differently. Some need that hands on experience, others can watch a couple videos and create the Mona Lisa. My fear is without repetition and usage of the tools, whatever you learn in class may be lost until you can get some tools of your own. If it were me, id spend the money on tools and park my fat butt in front of the computer and watch Paul Sellers, Peter Follansbee and St. Roy until my eyes bled. But that s just me.

- chrisstef

Ditto

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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