I love the day we launch a new project on Woodworking Masterclasses. For me it’s magic. I worked hard for weeks. Sketched and drew out my ideas, shared them with those who would film me, built the prototype and worked through the self-doubts and the challenges and also faced off the naysayers beyond. From early sketches on scraps of paper through to the final drawings, my work always brings me through me to a point where I walk away from the project one evening with it lying on my workbench in the diminishing daylight.
Please sign up and join Woodworking Masterclasses if you are indeed struggling to find the right solution for your woodworking growth. Hundreds of others have attested to their growth spurt through a combination of resources we provide and the videos answer today’s pressing need for quality apprenticing flexing via a more modern platform that otherwise may not exist.
I think sometimes my audience might miss the point of my work just a little. I design the projects and provide training and teaching for all to grow together. Those who started out not being woodworkers became more than competent as they followed my plans. It’s the fully orbed preservation and conservation of craft skill without becoming some nostalgic quest to return to the past or become some kind of living history museum. My quest is not to keep redundant crafts alive as a sort of historic archiving for skills no longer needed, but the living work in progressing a lifestyle alternative that can be integrated with modern life and lifestyle. I have always wanted a viable entity that meets today’s pressing needs where you can go out to a small workshop area and make some of their needs around the home. I am not particularly interested in reenactment per se, though I do see its value for teaching history and such, I prefer a well-done theatre performance over just keeping a craft alive for the sake of it. In my view a swan quill pen will be a thing of beauty because of the sawn feathering, it will never return to replace the ubiquitous biro. But it’s interesting to see how they were made and performed and were indeed replaced by metal nibbed alternatives like the one I write with.
Why have I said all of that?
Well,Woodworking Masterclasses, our teaching and training courses, have been the culmination of decades of work one on one, apprenticeships and then online in the recent years. We changed from those earlier days using what we gleaned from one on one to challenge woodworkers online. It was never our goal to have people sign up for the rest of their lives but to follow and learn over a shorter season of perhaps two or three years working the odd evening and weekends. By distilling down what I learned in my early apprenticeship and an added 50 years full-time woodworking and furniture making since, we’ve been able to create a uniquely different learning experience. We show that hand tool woodworking is actually far more powerful than people might at first think, more powerful than the so-called power-tool methods people turn to in their early days. Developing true mastery after a very short period is very encouraging and by that I’m talking mastery in sharpening and setting up their hand tools, mastery in making joints that are airtight and gapless. It just takes a little pluckiness to take those opening steps to sharpen a saw or a cabinet scraper. The outcome is wellbeing and fulfilment, something many people overlook when they first begin. I am amazed at what has taken place over the past few years.
Our goal is a new maturity in woodworking
People come and go from our Woodworking Masterclasses and we are actually fine with that. Why? On the one had that can indeed seem negative, but, for the main part, it is because after that initial growth spurt, a little steady reinforcement through projects, most of our attendees have grown exponentially and can indeed stand on their own two feet. They’ve not only watched the videos, but they’ve also gone out into their creative spaces and put into practice what they’ve learned. They’re building pieces and redefining their saw teeth. They’re experimenting and researching by doing. This is the growth I envisioned. They are now following traditional patterns that stood the test of time as proven technologies and harnessed what they experienced to make what at one time was lost to them. This, my friends, was our goal.