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Some very specific questions about mentoring

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Forum topic by Lee Barker posted 04-14-2014 04:11 PM 730 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Lee Barker

2169 posts in 1537 days


04-14-2014 04:11 PM

Introduction:

I read many posts with very good questions from beginning and intermediate woodworkers. The queries are often followed by numerous responses, most of which are valid and to the point, but may be in conflict with one another or are based on assumptions made by the responder. Sometimes responses can wander off the point (I have been guilty of this on numerous occasions) and, at worst, hijack the thread. Factoring out the chaff can still leave the Original Poster with conflicting or inadequate information.

As a random example of this, take a look at the current thread called “How square is square?”
http://lumberjocks.com/topics/60085

So to the questions:

If you are a beginner or intermediate with a question or questions about how to proceed on your current project have you ever called an experienced woodworker to come to your shop to help you take the next step?

Outcome?

If you are the same beginner/intermediate, would you pay an experienced person to come help you for an hour or two? Let’s assume the help would be there in a day or two.

How much would you be willing to pay for this help?

Now on the other side of the equation:

If you have significant professional experience and were willing to respond to situations as above, how much would you expect, per hour, as a fair consideration for your input?

Thank you in advance for sharing your thoughts.

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"


18 replies so far

View bigblockyeti's profile

bigblockyeti

1659 posts in 408 days


#1 posted 04-14-2014 04:28 PM

I’ve found that I’m certainly a better doer than teacher which my young children are trying to cure me of. That being said as an Engineer, I’ve done some consulting on a few small projects and the pay is usually pretty good, but rarely involves instruction of any kind, other than maybe putting together a cursory operating manual or SOP. The teaching aspect can be much more difficult and close attention must be paid to assure the objective is still being pursued vs. giving lots of opinions. Most of the help I’ve sought personally has either come from those I’ve asked specifically or here on LJ. All of the help I have received here I would rate as being of very high quality, rarely are there equal number of conflicting answers, as with most advise, majority rules.

View Loren's profile

Loren

7732 posts in 2335 days


#2 posted 04-14-2014 04:54 PM

I’ve been asked to do that a few times.

It seems to me that if you wanted to do this, the best approach
would be to have a set curriculum to teach, like sharpening
and plane set up. While some people might not mind paying
somebody else to hang out and guide them while they
putter around, I can see a lot of potential for expectations
not being met.

A lot of custom work clients are wary of hiring woodworkers
on “time and materials” basis. Same sort of thing… in general
the happiest transactions are those in which both parties
have a specific understanding of what’s going to be delivered
at a given price.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View Paul Maurer's profile

Paul Maurer

140 posts in 241 days


#3 posted 04-14-2014 05:21 PM

.

-- Psalm 62: 11 Once God has spoken; twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God, 12 and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work

View JADobson's profile

JADobson

320 posts in 798 days


#4 posted 04-14-2014 05:31 PM

I’m quite a new woodworker and heaven knows that I could use some mentoring, but the other day I had the chance to teach an even newer woodworker how to turn a pen. I wouldn’t dream of expecting compensation. Maybe if I turned professionally, but as a hobbyist , no way. Now, I might be willing to pay someone to come help me, but I don’t think I could ever justify charging someone for my help.

-- James

View Terry Ferguson's profile

Terry Ferguson

203 posts in 1354 days


#5 posted 04-14-2014 05:38 PM

In my early years of woodworking and looking for help, I would visit other woodworkers or cabinet shops. The outcome was that there was a good deal of reluctance to give out any information or they did not want to take the time and I was told to read some books and try to work things out for myself. At the time, some of my friends became apprentices in large shops and found that it was difficult to learn as there were no programs for training, only learning as much as you can while being exploited for cheap labor doing menial tasks.

Many years later, now, the library, internet, and this site offer extremely good information while keeping in mind that there are many opinions and ways to do things that need to be sorted out.

Locally , I find it very easy to talk to other woodworkers to give and take information with no remuneration expected. Through emails, i stay in contact with far away friends and offer advise about tool purchases and projects. I may not consider myself a “mentor”, but I would willingly try to help anyone who asked me, again on the local level and through the Central Oregon Woodworkers Association.

-- Terry Ferguson, Bend Oregon

View Ron Ford's profile

Ron Ford

107 posts in 419 days


#6 posted 04-14-2014 05:45 PM

I’m with James in the last post. Speaking just for me, woodworking is a hobby – not a revenue-producing situation. While I don’t see any problem with offering paid sessions, I am willing to bet that most people on LJ are in it for fun – not profit.

That said; if you can advertise your skills and ability to teach others for a fee – why not? As always, they can either continue to work their way through it themselves, seek ‘free’ help from a local club or other source, or be willing to pay for expertise.

As far as a fee schedule, I think that would depend largely on the subject matter. Teaching someone to, say, carve a cabriole leg would certainly be worth more than teaching them to sharpen a plane. You mention having significant professional experience. Perhaps you start with the rate of pay earned from that venture?

-- Once in awhile I make something really great. Most days I just make sawdust.

View Nicky's profile

Nicky

636 posts in 2779 days


#7 posted 04-14-2014 06:24 PM

If you are a beginner or intermediate with a question or questions about how to proceed on your current project have you ever called an experienced woodworker to come to your shop to help you take the next step?

Outcome? I’ve done this recently for a project. I was building an acoustic guitar and needed some help in cutting a dovetail joint. A friend and better builder then me helped me out. I was on track for creating a very expensive piece of firewood without the help.

As far as the rest of your questions:

I’m no expert. However, I’ve got some game. I want to build a rocking chair. I’m looking at some classes. I see that 5 day classes could cost about $2500. I don’t find this unreasonable if I walk away with the foundation to make a nice rocking chair.

I had some windows replaced last year. I hired someone to help. Turns out the guy had a lot of expertise (unfortunately, only when sober). He quoted his time as $150/day or $20/hr, cash only. He helped for 2 days, I gave him $400 because he helped me achieve exactly what I was looking for and pointed out many mistakes I would have made. Not so much for a skylight I wanted to install (again, the sober issue.)

I do believe that people are entitled to a living wage, and I’m happy to pay if I get the results I want.

-- Nicky

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

4123 posts in 1067 days


#8 posted 04-14-2014 06:28 PM

There are definitely amateurs who would gladly pay for private tutoring. I’m lucky in that we have several local WW clubs that conduct classes, mostly free, and much of the instruction is as good as it gets. I’ve also had the benefit of formal instruction. So for me, I would not be willing to pay but if starting out—maybe. If asked to help a newcomer or amateur then I wouldn’t charge anything unless they wanted a significant portion of my time (or I didn’t like them, ha-ha). One professional consulting to another though I would expect remuneration. In my regular line of work I would charge $120/hr to consult with another professional.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1474 posts in 1048 days


#9 posted 04-14-2014 06:38 PM

Good topic, Lee.

Aside form taking a high school or similar shop class, the best way to learn the craft is to study technique via books or video and make things. If one is unwilling to take the initiative and try on his own, he’s unworthy of instruction. Sites like (especially) LJs overflow with confusing misinformation, and the beginner coming here expecting to gain knowledge deserves what’s offered.

I would be willing to “instruct” by allowing a “student” to watch me work on a project while I describe the process and answer any questions, or by providing a critique of his approach to working on a project the he has undertaken with his tools and machinery. In either case I’d expect the offer of a bottle of my favorite libation.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3790 posts in 2055 days


#10 posted 04-14-2014 08:43 PM

Good topic, Lee.

Perhaps this site should use a “grading” method by identifying those people that are professional and/or very experienced hobbyists as opposed to the novice. I have seen this on other sites such as the CNC Forum and Let’s Talk Shopbot. This would help some beginners to sort the “wheat from the chaff”.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile

joeyinsouthaustin

1268 posts in 759 days


#11 posted 04-14-2014 08:53 PM

Terry Ferguson “At the time, some of my friends became apprentices in large shops and found that it was difficult to learn as there were no programs for training, only learning as much as you can while being exploited for cheap labor doing menial tasks.”

I encountered this as well. Now that I have my own shop I have two things in place… A Written training program.. and I added this statement to all my job descriptions for the shop. “must be willing to pass skills on to others” It was always frustrating to encounter people who felt like they were protecting there position by not teaching others that I had hired. Or by not teaching me, before I had my shop.

-- Who is John Galt?

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3790 posts in 2055 days


#12 posted 04-14-2014 10:18 PM

Joey, you wrote ”It was always frustrating to encounter people who felt like they were protecting there position by not teaching others that I had hired.”

People like that are hard to understand, it’s like passing on experience and knowledge is forbidden by some commandment. I feel sorry for their kids, if they have any, as how are they going to learn to grow up.

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Bob Current 's profile

Bob Current

317 posts in 304 days


#13 posted 04-14-2014 10:42 PM

Lee,
I would not hesitate to pay someone to help me learn a procedure, especially if their income depended on it.
Judging by the number of replies someone gets to a question on this site I feel the person giving the advice enjoys helping others more than charging a fee,
I believe I read a recent post where one member did sub contract for another member.
I’ve done business with one member selling tools with very good results.
If you are looking to supplement your income and have expert experience I’d suggest teaching at a vocational school.
Interesting subject.
Bob Current

-- When you are wrong admit it, when you are right forget it.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1474 posts in 1048 days


#14 posted 04-14-2014 10:52 PM

Oldnovice, some folks who may have been woodworking for a long time and self-identify as expert are only expert at doing things wrong. On this site, I look to the projects that a person has posted to judge whether he/she knows what they’re talking about. It ain’t 100%, but it’s an indicator.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

4123 posts in 1067 days


#15 posted 04-15-2014 03:06 AM

Many people learn one way of doing something and to them it is the right way but if I’ve learned anything it’s that there is often more than one right way. So you can get conflicting answers and both be equally “right” especially if they are approaching the issue using different techniques. An example are shellac/oil finishes which are common in turning but if you bring it up in a forum of flatworkers it turns their world upside down. To one guy if a cabinet fits and looks good, it’s good; to another it must be square within 1/100”, to another within 1/32”. My long winded point being that conflicting answers aren’t necessarily bad. The biggest issue I see on LJ and other forums are people that answer without bothering to read past the thread title.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

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