October 22, 2010

I am in my second week of classes at the Center For Furniture Craftsmanship. The first week class was wonderful. They were beginners who jumped right in on Monday and had new skills and a pile of completed projects on Friday. This is a course I have developed over many years. I have them start by turning three cylinders. This allows them to become familiar with the workings of the lathe. The first cylinder is slow and tentative; their third is quick and confident. Now everyone is engaged and ready to go. One cylinder becomes a practice piece to go back to when trying to figure things out, the other two become tool handles. Details are next and then drilling for the steel. What could be better than to have the power to make your own tool? We then use that tool to learn sharpening and cutting angles throughout the week. I try to keep this class sequential. The act of repeating what you did before but with one more technique introduced helps students develop muscle memory. The next project is the awl, it has spindle work and drilling (repetition) but now I add fitting with the introduction of a ferral. Next the class makes a mallet repeating all the other steps but now fitting wood-to-wood, and increasing size with the mallet head. We then went to hollow turning (dealing with the end grain, but still spindle work) this allowed them to learn to sharpen their second tool, which was an angle scraper. Three days have passed and they are independent and have a bunch of tools they will use forever in their shops. I have always felt tool making to be primal. There is that old saying about give a man a fish and he has a meal, but teach him to fish and he can eat all his life. I feel that way about this class. The idea of making your own tools is empowering. When in the shop you will not just go through some steps you learned from a book or DVD blindly doing the steps taught but maybe not understanding why you are doing them. Now that a student understands the cutting edge and that object making is about problem solving ,anything is possible. When faced with a problem you don’t need to stop and go to the tool store (O.K. that is fun to), you can grab a hunk of rod and grind it to suit your needs. I am not saying that all the students who finished the class last Friday are now ready to go into business, but they have a beginning understanding of the mind-metal-motion and material that go into turning and all object making.

Beginning Students work after four and a half days


About turningaroundamerica

Collaborative Team of Jenn Moller and Beth Ireland
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