Apprenticing thoughts; a work in progress

John worked last week helping to prepare for the woodworking show. Much to do still, but we’ve made much progress and we are about ready to load up the gear. Though we work hard, apprenticing is not at all about physical work only. So many aspects of woodworking and training have fallen by the wayside simply because those who should be training younger artisans no longer have the working knowledge and skills they need to train others. Part of John’s training includes drawing and writing. These are essential communication skills every craftsman needs to connect with customers and staff members and fellow artisans working together. Drawing conveys meaning to others and also expresses whether you actually know what your customer is looking for. John has started a journal of his work day. He is allowed an hour each day to enter the previous day’s work, which should include perspective sketches and accurate, detailed drawings, writings and so on.

Another part of his training is a thorough knowledge of his hand tools and related equipment. Though I have tools John can use, there is nothing like owning your own and an important part of John’s apprenticeship is to be able to function in all areas of hand tool use. I have learned so much about the craftsman’s ways by inspecting their tools. It’s here that i learned about tooth rake, set and sizing and shaping teeth forty years ago. I have found great advantage in restoring old tools too and when I found another old saw at the flea market last weekend I immediately thought of John, my young apprentice. This saw is an ideal restoration project  to train him in saw sharpening and restoration. Over the next few days and into the show this weekend he will be restoring it into a functioning saw for his tool kit. He already has a set of the Aldi chisels I mentioned in an earlier post so let’s grow with John as he assembles his personal tool collection, makes his bench, his tool box and his training projects. It’s hard to say how many people I have apprenticed through the years and they have all followed a similar path.