Jack’s been with me now for about four months. He’s coming in two half days so about 8 hours a week. That’s how everyone starts at first. He has just completed my foundational course which anyone can follow for free online should they be beginners and want to visit my sites. My dream that those who would or could never attend for my former one on one classes could learn with me and their fellow enthusiasts has become a reality.
Working with Jack is my way of answering the quest individuals have to pursue something they know nothing of but feel enough to want to invest a few hours in to get their feet wet.. This toe-dipping works and doesn’t work. Prior to this work I had apprenticed many a one with me in my workshop where I too made furniture to sell. This was tradition from a past age was the one I went through. It worked then but is less likely to be the pattern into the future because most makers doing such a thing for a living are not making it and cannot afford to take on extra paid staff, even on a low-paying apprentice wage.
My alternative means that for the past ten years apprentices have never made anything for me to profit from. They have never worked on the same piece I am working on and I have never had them make something that I could sell to cover my lost time in training them.
But Jack’s course work does equip him and has equipped many new to enter the realms of woodworking. Some of my former apprentices are making income from their craft and others use the same skills to either work for others with or have adapted them to similar crafts requiring hand work of like kind. There is more money to be had from trim carpentry than fine furniture these days, and who really wants to wear ear defenders and a dust mask all day? In the few week’s that Jack has been with me he’s made the chisel tray, the wall shelf, the tool tote and the dovetailed candle box. We have spent time squaring boards foursquare, sawing angles for dovetailing practice and then sizing wood from the rough to size with hand planes and saws. I think he’s now ready for the wall clock in oak so I will mill his wood this week. I think we are at phase two of his training. With a few hardwood pieces, a tool chest or two and a workbench yet to build his schedule is set through to mid next year.
I know many of you are raw beginners looking to get started and together with Izzy we have tried to bridge the gap to get new people started on the right foot with commonwoodworking.com to give the rudimentary steps. Not attending one-on-one course with me seems not to have caused a problem for so many because not only are we covering the needs of newbies but woodworkingmasterclasses takes everyone on to some all the more advanced projects too. Oh, and don’t forget YouTube. It’ll take you a while, perhaps three or four years if you do it properly, but at the end of it you will have everything I have ever given my apprentices, and that’s very important because I am sure you will especially want to join us on our new venture as we build a full house of furniture pieces from the bottom floor up.