Woodworking Classes - What's Your Experience?

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Forum topic by JoeMcGlynn posted 12-29-2011 05:40 PM 4080 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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219 posts in 2382 days

12-29-2011 05:40 PM

Topic tags/keywords: woodworking classes

I’m thinking about taking a weekend or week long woodworking class. I probably want something that is project-centered, my experience is that making something real provides better focus (for me) than making practice parts.

What have you guys done? Any reports? Places or teachers to avoid (or seek out)?

I thought about Hand Tool Heaven at Port Townsend, although I think I can work my way through that material on my own.

I really would have liked to take one of the “Build the Anarchist's Tool Chest with Christopher Schwarz”, but those classes sold out in about two minutes.

-- Blog:

16 replies so far

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15369 posts in 2647 days

#1 posted 12-29-2011 05:52 PM

I did a weekend Handplane Essentials-type course at Marc Adams a year ago september, with Schwarz. He’s a good instructor, had a good time at the pizza and beer gathering afterward, too. Had to sign up so far in advance of the class that, by the time it arrived, I had read his Essentials book and worked a few months on the skill sets he went through in the class. I wasn’t bored, but wished afterward I would have had the class six months before.

A project-centric course would be cool, especially at Roy’s school in NC. All the seminars at Woodworking in America would make it worth attending, too. Plus there is the marketplace with tool dealers (new and used).

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View skeemer's profile


95 posts in 2392 days

#2 posted 12-29-2011 05:56 PM

I have been wondering how the Woodcraft basic classes are, as these are closer to my price range and experience level :) I do enjoy learning on my own but that is also much slower than having a bit of help.

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4156 days

#3 posted 12-29-2011 06:01 PM

My local Woodcraft stores (Cincinnati, OH and Lexington, KY) have great classes and are well worth the fees.


-- 温故知新

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219 posts in 2382 days

#4 posted 12-29-2011 06:05 PM

Good point about the Woodcraft store. The “local” one (in San Carlos, an hour away) mostly has pen turning classes. But the one in Sacramento has Rob Cosman coming for a demo class in February. That might be worth attending.

-- Blog:

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5255 posts in 2651 days

#5 posted 12-29-2011 06:14 PM

I have attended a couple classes. One was a beginners/basic skills class with Gregory Paolini. He is in Waynesville NC which is beautiful spot in the Blue Ridge Mountians. It was a five day class and the project was a hall table. I really enjoyed it but it is REALLY hard for me to pull off a 5 day stent off work.

A couple months ago I took a class with Roy on Dovetails and mortise and tenon joinery. It was a hoot. It was a SUnday we started about 9 AM and finished around 6 PM. He is exactly as he is on TV.

I am going to another course with Roy next weekend on joinery planes. I am really looking forward to it. I’ve trying to get someone to go with me – but no takers.

I signed up for the Schwarz tool chest course @ Roy’s but I backed out considering the 5 day committment and I really don’t want a tool chest.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

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817 posts in 3172 days

#6 posted 12-29-2011 06:24 PM

I have taken two or three Woodcraft classes and I have been consistently disappointed with every one. It doesn’t feel like I get value for the money and I never get written materials to take home with me as references. I have been tempted to try a few more with different teachers but so far have managed to save my money by remembering my disappointment with the previous ones. As others have reported great experiences with Woodcraft I imagine the value varies by location.

I’ve gotten much better value through some multi-week classes offered at my local university.

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219 posts in 2382 days

#7 posted 12-30-2011 01:26 AM

I decided to put myself on the wait list for the tool chest class, but I’m going to keep looking for other opportunities.

-- Blog:

View iozl's profile


51 posts in 3828 days

#8 posted 12-30-2011 01:53 AM

I’ll give you my take on the Handtool Heaven class with Jim Tolpin: I took it two years ago (the first week, not the second), and it was a great experience. Jim is a great guy – he’s very laid back yet very enthusiastic about power-tool-free woodworking. During the class it’s a bit more than just “we’re now going to make a wooden straight edge” – he really tries to go into the theory of the importance of the particular tool you’re making and the history of how craftsmen would make these items in a day and time without power assistance or even without a tape measure.

Also, a week in Port Townsend is kind of a treat if you’ve never been there before. Very pretty small town in the Olympic peninsula. I’m thinking about taking week 2 of the course this spring or summer.

Having said that, can’t really recommend the Northwest Woodworking Studio in Pdx.

But being in CA, there must be a lot of places in the No. CA area with great instructors – I’m sure that David Marks is still instructing and lots of other school of the Redwoods graduates. I’ve heard that David is a great teacher as well.

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Jeff Terrell

32 posts in 2370 days

#9 posted 12-30-2011 02:08 AM

Only taken one class at Highland Woodworking. Relatively good experience, though the instructor was a bit curmudgeonly. It was on turning…beginner level. Several people had flown I from out of state, though, which surprised me. Cost was only around $90.

-- "Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind." F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Jim Finn

2658 posts in 2950 days

#10 posted 12-30-2011 04:24 AM

I took classes at an” adult continuing education” class in Calif. It was held at the local high school in the evenings and we had use of all the tools in the well equipped wood shop. It was $50 for 6 months twice a week. I took that class over and over for 2 years just to use the equipment. You may look for that in your area.

-- Website is No PHD just a DD214 and a GED

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752 posts in 2557 days

#11 posted 12-30-2011 04:47 AM

If you like Green and Green furniture Darrell Pearth teaches out in the WA. area.

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915 posts in 2980 days

#12 posted 12-30-2011 04:56 AM

I took a “Traditional Joinery” week long class given by Chris Schwarz in Metten, Germany in 2010. Cost something like 300 Euros and worth every bit of it. The goal of the class was to build a traditional Shaker cabinet thingy but it was clear that most people (me included) were there to pick Chris’ brain. It was a great time, I really learned a lot. And Chris is a great guy; personable and knowledgeable. The next one I want to do is down at Roy Underhill’s school. Someday.

Me on the far right.

-- Mike

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1085 posts in 3011 days

#13 posted 12-30-2011 05:56 AM

I think learning from any class structure is good. the wood craft classes are ok, just enough for you to pursue or not.
i found some classes at a adult ed an hour from my home. which a class that you’re making something and using the tools on your own, but; have a teacher near by to steer you in the right direction, as you’re working. i guess it’s the consistancy of the class verse a one day for 2 or 3 hours. the one week class for 8 hours a day would be good, because your emersed into a project.

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219 posts in 2382 days

#14 posted 12-30-2011 07:50 AM

Wow, good suggestion on the Darrell Peart class. I really like this piece:

-- Blog:

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932 posts in 2383 days

#15 posted 12-30-2011 07:55 AM

I’ve heard of some classes offered somewhere in the smokey mountains that teach you how to build furniture with hand tools, and though I think it’d be cool, I’ve never done any classes. I would pretty much have to focus on hand tool courses or maybe lathe courses for myelf though. I think my production back ground would kinda make me have odd reactions to some peoples approaches to other subjects lol.

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

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