Today’s class

There’s something about holding workshops and having people come to learn. The age range varies markedly and I’m grateful for that because my craft is not age specific, gender specific but for everyone who chooses the master it.

I’m half way through a three-day workshop at Penrhyn Castle and it’s going well. Student boxes stand replete with dovetails and hinged lid fitted to each box. For 17 years I have taught people to make this dovetailed Shaker candle box and it’s never grown old for me because it’s a perfect project of mastering dovetails, handling tools like planes chisels, saws and more. A student named Bob said to me, ” I am not a religious person but this has been a religious experience for me.” And why shouldn’t he feel that way. Work like this is honourable and rewarding, inspiring, stimulating and much more.

One of the single most important elements in working wood is sharp tools and that’s something that John Winter, my friend and apprentice, has mastered since he has been serving his time with me. He can fettle planes with the best and uses them as well as I do. John prepares all the chisels for classes, which means that students get the pristine edges they need at the beginning of their projects and know what a sharp edge is. Without sharp tools you may as well use machines and forget skill.