Let me start by thanking everyone that has commented on my blog thus far. The warm welcome is appreciated, and the voiced interest in my experience is great motivation to keep me committed. As far as pictures are concerned, I’m a photographer, so be careful what you ask for. Just kidding, I will do my best to document the process with plenty of eye candy.
With that said, let me just say that my first day of class was one of the most enjoyable things I’ve done in a long time, and I never touched a piece of wood. Today’s session was devoted to covering policies and procedures and getting acquainted with the facility.
WOW! What a facility. My decision to take a class over striking out on my own was justified in spades today. This is one incredible place. At 15,000 square feet, the facility is enormous. Equipped with three complete machine shops, each with adjoining class rooms, there is every possible machine that a woodworker could ever dream of. Can’t wait to get my hands on them, but I have to keep telling myself …patience grasshopper. More on the facility in a moment.
All kidding aside, the facility really is amazing, and the staff is top notch. My instructor, Dave Thomsen, has been teaching at Palomar for 17 years after spending many years building cabinets. Also on staff is Russ Filbeck. Many of you may have seen Russ featured on HGTV’s Modern Masters series. Just do a quick Google on his name, and I think you will be impressed. There are a number of other staff members, but I haven’t had a chance to meet them …yet.
Several impressive things about the program at Palomar: They run 600 students per school year through some 50 classes that are offered. Among the classes are everything from my Woodworking 100, to timber frame structures, to specialized classes like guitar making. There really is something for every skill level. They’re even starting a bamboo fly rod class this semester.
Just an example of how respected the program is. In my class is a lady named Sue Spray. Sue builds most everything, but her specialty is canoes and kayaks. Her award winning work is already incredible, but she decided to start going through the Palomar program to fill any gaps she missed from being self taught. I’m really excited to have her as a potential resource to learn from, and bounce ideas off of.
So what did I learn today? Mostly that I have a lot to learn. We really won’t get into the shop until week four or five. Our class meets every Wednesday from 8am to 4:30pm, so I’m sure I will have to start doing some work at home to feed my new addiction.
The first weeks are going to be dedicated to learning safety, wood technology, and hand tool selection. While my anxiety level will be maxed out to get to work in the shop, I am really thankful that the instructor is taking so much time to cover everything, and provide me with a solid foundation.
Once we do get going, I will have my choice of four clock plans to choose from. We are free to customize the plans however we choose, but at the basic level, we will all be building clocks. At first glance, I really like a shaker style clock that is one of the options. I will let you know when I decide.
More on the facility: Perhaps the thing I’m most excited about, outside of my class, is the opportunity to work in their Urban Forestry Program. In 2001, the school received a sawmill from the California Department of Forestry. Since that time, they’ve established a program where trees from the local area are brought in and milled on site to provide wood for the program. Mostly the trees are recovered fallen trees, and removed from property around the county. It’s going to be incredible to learn the entire process from sawmill, to kiln, to milling, to finished project. I doubt there are many opportunities out there like this for $100 bucks a semester. They have two huge areas with a wide variety of woods to choose from for our projects. We do have to buy it, but at discounted rates.
That’s about it for now. Enjoy the pictures, and please let me know if there are things of interest that I’m leaving out. Now I’m off to work on my 200 question open book exam on the shop safety manual. Gotta keep all my digits don’t you know.
-- Wayne - Newbie looking to learn!