Carlen Bengt photography

Upward Spiral

ten Week Program — $8750
all materials provided

“As this sequence suggests, we view the process of learning the fine art of cabinetmaking as an "upward spiral," in which the cabinetmaker is constantly refining techniques previously learned-an effort with no end, as such, whose goal is excellence in all aspects of the craft.”
– James Krenov

Upon completion of Impractical Studies and a better understanding of the wood, tools and details of fine cabinetmaking, we are ready to take on the making of a fine cabinet or box in solid wood. We will make one of five established pieces made by JK in the late sixties. 

We need to understand that for one to become a complete craftsman, that is the designer and the maker; one must first learn craftsmanship and develop an understanding of how wood is worked by the sensitive craftsman.  We need to understand that wood is a living material; to ignore this can work unfavourably in its function and affect its longevity. We need to approach the work in a very personal way; we need to understand the work of the impractical cabinetmaker. 

We will work from just one plank of wood. We will need to be curious and learn its properties. From this plank we will need to select the material for the entire piece while we practice and develop a sensible balance between hand and machine tools.

We will be revisiting a variety of skills and learn new ones as we proceed and we will do this without the distraction of design process. The weights and measure of this piece has been decided, as have the details. We need only to focus on doing our best work. Work which is done with our hands, with a careful eye, and perhaps even more importantly, work that comes from the heart with a reverence for the material.

We will make one of five established pieces made by Jim Krenov from 1964 through 1979. While we will listen to the wood all other details, no matter how insignificant, will remain unchanged. By taking the composing element out of the process, students are able to focus entirely on refining their skills as craftsmen.

Each of the woods we will be using, have their own properties, and I mean this in the most unscientific way. The way a plane feels on one wood is an entirely new experience on another; even the shavings can be different. How the wood feels when being pared cross grain with a fine chisel. Is the wood abrasive requiring even more frequent sharpenings. How does the end grain respond to a shearing tool? Are my cutting angles to steep, or too shallow? We need to pay attention while we work. Use our experiences to make the process enjoyable require less effort. This exercise will build upon the upward spiral that Jim spoke of. The revisiting of past experiences will assist you in your new work. Knowing when you will need to slow down and pay even more attention. What tools and even what processes presented and modifications made contributed to your ability to do fine work? These are just some of the questions we will begin to answer over the next ten weeks.

Recommended Tools & Texts

Application for this program requires completion of Impractical Studies, a consult with the Program Director & Teacher, and the completion of the application package.Upon completion of the Upward Spiral program, students may apply for entrance into our Vidar's Chair program.