October 22, 2007

JK’s lecture this week dealt with hand cut dovetail joinery. As with many of Jim’s lectures our topics tend to lead into other aspects of our craft. This week Jim spoke about finding your place in the craft and about wood as the source of all our inspiration. Following our annual pilgrimage to Gilmer Wood Company at the end on November, Robert will be heading down to meet with Jim for a few days before students undertake their first pieces.

Guest Faculty Program for 2007

Composing with Adrian Ferrazzutti

Students will spend a week with Adrian learning various techniques to design a piece of furniture by creating sketches, models and mockups. This course will begin with loose drawings and sketching to hash out a design for a piece of furniture of your choice and design. Students are encouraged to arrive with sketches of furniture ideas and designs they have worked on in advance. Each student will decide on a piece of furniture and a design that he or she would like to create. A sketch or sketches of this idea will be discussed as a group.

Adrian will give a commentary on each design with attention to aesthetics as well as construction considerations. In this early stage of composing a piece of furniture the initial concept is hashed out however, the direction the design process may lead to and the outcome of the original idea can be surprising. Moving on from the drawing stage, students will build one or more models or maquettes of their piece of furniture transforming the two dimensional sketch into a scaled down, yet simple, three dimensional object. Students may opt to create more than one model to explore different design possibilities. With a working model completed each student will transform their design concept into a full size model or mock up using various materials. The final mockups will be presented and discussed as a class giving each student the opportunity to enhance their design sense by observing what other students have encountered with during their design process.

This class along with many of our other Guest Faculty and Artisan Programs are already beginning to fill. If you would like to reserve your bench space for any of our programs call Yvonne on our toll free line at 1.877.943.9663. Alternatively registrations may be printed directly off our website and faxed to 1.604.885.9711. We have already received several registrations for our 2008-2009 Craftsman Program. Please remember that we accept students of all woodworking abilities with a common goal of slowing down and refining your skills and that we accept students on a first come, first serve basis. Selecting a school is likely the most important decision you will need to make when investing in your craft education. If you would like more information about our small school or any of our programs call our toll free number at 1.877.943.9663 and ask to speak with one of our faculty, advisors, alumni or current students.

Michael from Halfmoon Bay British Columbia. A fine craftsman and a lovely man. As another early riser I look forward to his smiling face each morning. Students have access to the shop from when I arrive at the school each morning generally before 6am until 9pm from Monday through Saturday.

Ian, one of four teachers here at the school demonstrates jointer knife honing, replacement and setup. Students are given the opportunity on an ongoing basis throughout the program to observe and practice machine setup, tuning and maintenance. This is Ian’s third year at the school. He has recently acquired a Felder full combination machine and is nearing completion of his new shop, located just a few minutes down the road from our school. He will continue to teach two days a week, build furniture and help his wife Marnie raise their lovely daughter Maaike.

Daisuke, one of our international students from Japan, planes the face of his sweet board exercise to a flawless finish. Daisuke is obsessed with fine shavings. He is focused and it is a pleasure watching him work.

Douglas of Gibsons, British Columbia checks edge for square. Following sharpening, hand tool tuning and the making of a wooden smoother and jointer, students are taken through what was formally known as "the perfect board" exercise. We have made a few changes to make the exercise a bit more dynamic and enjoyable by incorporating a convex face and a concave edge. This gave students the opportunity to use their spokeshaves as well in the exercise.

Robert demonstrated the process of inserts and applied soles. Another skill not necessarily used often but eventually required when wooden planes are such a primary tool of the craftsman. When neatly done they close up the mouth of the plane and can dramatically improve its performance.

Daisuke from Nishio-shi, Aichi-ken Japan experiences the free hand sport of mortising, a phrase coined by Stephen Esdon, one of our first alumni. Daisuke described himself as a beginner coming into the program. He has completed each task presented to him at very high level of workmanship.

Erik from Richmond Hill Ontario cleans up shoulders of tenon while dialing in the fit. Each student had the opportunity to complete a stub, haunched as well as a through and wedged tenon before moving onto the making of a pair of Krenovian sawhorses in ash.

Ed from Kamloops British Columbia cleans up his through and wedged tenon. Ed another self-proclaimed beginner to the craft has made wonderful progress since arriving at the school and has shown a real sense of community.

Kevin Kelly from Reno Nevada, one of three second year students at the our small school makes adjustments to his carcass prior to attaching the applied edges which align seamlessly with the transition in his Port Orford cedar and doussie veneers. Kevin teaches by example, giving our students a level of workmanship for which to strive for. Kevin has a passion for the craft, which is echoed in his work.

Douglas from Gibsons British Columbia lays out the story stick for his sawhorses. Kevin introduced students to story sticks a few weeks ago. Students are encouraged to use these sticks when dimensioning stock and laying out joinery without the risk of miscalculations.

Matt from England, via Vancouver, completed the assembly of his sawhorses, which now await the top rail. I had a classmate from England when I was in school that Matt reminds me of. Not because he is English but rather his focus and work ethic. Matt, like John Dee, never seems to rush but always gets the task completed and done very well.

Adam from Edmonton Alberta uses his shop made bevel gauge to layout the pins on his third set of through dovetails. When defining the curriculum at the school with Jim Krenov, Jim suggested breaking down the craft into three equally important facets, the material, the tools and the process. Each skill taught at the school encompasses these areas and is presented with this in mind. Students are introduced to a variety of woods with different working properties ad are encouraged to explore the richness of our medium. Students are also encouraged to make their own tools as means of further understanding the material and how it is worked. The process is then introduced after students have a better understanding of the materials and the tools.

Dan from San Jose California sharpens his Japanese saw following Robert’s demonstration. Saw sharpening is time consuming, but rewarding. Students have by now discovered the importance of sharp tools, saws are no different than cutting edges, they perform better when sharp. When students leave the program they will have been introduced to a number of skills that even if they do not use them immediately, they will one day. Saw sharpening is one of those skills. A few years from now they will be in their own shop and need to sharpen a blade, pull out their notes and just do it. Robert also demonstrated the sharpening of drill bits. Taking a twist drill, converting it to a brad point, then back to a twist bit and how to modify the bit for metal work. These skills may seem insignificant but are necessary for the complete craftsman.

Ryan from Wetaskiwin Alberta saws the pins for his first set of half lapped. Cutting a respectable set of dovetails requires many skills. Sawing well not only makes ones work more efficient and enjoyable but dramatically improves the chances of getting the results you are looking for. Ryan has taken advantage of the many cultural qualities the Creek has to offer.

Second year student, Doug Ives from Gibsons British Columbia is nearing the completion of his serving table. He now begins to mockup handles to be made of snake wood, a gift from his bench mate Juan Carlos. Once complete and after it has been presented to the class, his piece will be professionally photographed and will be available for viewing on our website. Doug has recently taken on the task of an alumni newsletter. His bench is cluttered with pieces of wood covered with his thoughts, which will inevitably need to be transcribed. Doug has a gift for this sort of thing and we are very grateful to have him back for a second year.

Matt from England via Vancouver cleans up the edge of his shooting board. Matt’s progress since arriving at the school can be described as nothing less than amazing. At our teacher meeting on Friday we all agreed that he should just do the through dovetail review on Saturday.

Walker from Seattle Washington checks the wedges on the bottom of his shooting board for flat. Students use their wooden planes to flatten the ash wedges of the shooting board to ensure a true cut. On the first day of the program hand plane use was described as a primary skill, a skill, which is at the very soul of our work. Walker, who had previously taken a class with Ross Day, a College of the Redwoods graduate who taught a program at Seattle Community College, has been a wonderful fit to the program and the school. Another of the early risers, Walker often arrives at school before 7am. Walker’s parents visited the school last week and his partner LM joined him this past week.

Paul from Evergreen Alabama takes advantage of the early morning sun to do some lapping over coffee. Paul’s parents from Alabama visited this past week and have suggested they will be back for the year-end show in May. Robyn, Paul’s wife has taken on a job at the Gumboot Cafe, located just across the courtyard from the school.

Ryan from Wetaskiwin Alberta cleans up the sockets on his first set of through dovetails. Ryan has really enjoyed the emphasis on handwork at the school. Students are encouraged to develop a sensible balance between the use of hand and machine tools while at the school. This balance is different for everyone. I see many dovetails in this aspiring young craftsman’s future.

A sneak preview of Juan Carlos’ recently completed wall cabinet. Juan has put off the presentation of his piece until his wife Beatrice arrived back from Venezuela. With the presentation taking place this coming week, we will be having it professionally photographed and up on the website shortly.

Erik of Richmond Hill Ontario pares the pins on his second set of through dovetails. Erik arrived at the school with solid foundation of machine skills and has made the transition to an emphasis on handwork without a missing a beat. He is always willing to lend a hand and assist students with less experience with machine operations, another example of the strong sense of community found at our small school.

Kevin, a second year student from Reno Nevada has applied edges ready to go onto veneered Doussie and Port Orford cedar panels. Kevin, a graduate of the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program has a unique position at the school. A student from Monday through Friday and on Saturday takes on a teaching role. A difficult role for anyone.

Dan from San Jose California pares the pins of his first set of through dovetails using one of the many chisels he has made since tool making was introduced. In addition to completing his exercises, Dan always has a few side jobs on the go including a set of lofting ducks which he has carved the pattern for. Dan is another of our early morning people and has really settled in to Roberts Creek life. He has organized several orders of organic produce for our students and is always there to assist one of his fellow students. We are very grateful to have him with us.

Juan Carlos from Caracas Venezuela, another of our second year students mocked up this compound curved cabinet for his second piece. It will rest on a stand which he will mockup after the cabinet is complete, something that JK recommends. Juan Carlos sat in on Brian Newell’s program this past summer and I could see the wheels turning. There are very few craftsmen who could pull off such a complex piece and still maintain the level of craftsmanship we have come to expect from Juan Carlos. As his teacher there is no doubt in my mind a masterpiece is underway. It has been such a pleasure having Juan Carlos and his wife Beatrice, who has just returned from Venezuela, here at the school.

Walker from Seattle Washington pares the pins of his first set of half lapped dovetails. The karma in the benchroom this week has been wonderful. Each of our teachers demonstrated their method of cutting this joint by hand. Students were then given the opportunity to practice this skill. This is in preparation for the coming week of drawer making where each of our students will make a drawer and fit it to one of our student cabinet drawer pockets. The drawers will be fit with "let go", a term used to describe the drawer run. The pocket and the drawer are each planed into very slight tapers resulting in a drawer which runs smooth and just before it leaves the pocket pinches, preventing the drawer from inadvertently slipping out and falling to the floor. The drawers will be then fitted with bottoms, stops and carved pulls.

Doug from Gibsons, British Columbia, one of our second year students, is nearing the completion of his first piece and is beginning to explore the possibilities for his second piece. Shown is a model of what he intends to build as a second piece. The lower portion would be enclosed in veneered panels. Doug will be moving onto a full sized mockup following the completion of his current piece.

Paul from Crested Butte Colorado cleans up the corners of his first set of through dovetails. Paul approaches our craft, our tools and material with the care and attention it deserves. He is focused and strives for perfection in each of the tasks presented. He and his wife Robyn are two of the sweetest people I know.

Adam from Edmonton Alberta contacted Terry at A&M Wood Specialty in Cambridge Ontario and arranged for some kingwood, tulipwood and cocobolo to be shipped out for plane bodies. This group has really embraced the plane and tool-making aspect of the program as well this group has developed a real sense of community. Adam and his wife Jodie are expecting the birth of their first child any day now. Every time the phone rings at the school we all hold our breath. The midwives clinic is conveniently setup in the same building as the school.

Walker from Seattle Washington received prayer flags as a gift from his partner LM and now occupy a special place in the benchroom.

Gary Kent, our relief teacher here at the school, shares with the class the process of vacuum bagging a curved veneered panel. The display cabinet in quarter-sawn oak is a commission for a long time client of his. Our teachers offer our students over fifty years of combined experience as professional craftsman.

Adam from Edmonton Alberta cleans up the pins on his second set of half lapped dovetails. Students gradually increase the number of pins and tails as they become familiar with the tools and the material. Next week, when students take on drawer construction, they will be encouraged to experience different woods and their working properties. One of the most difficult transitions for students to make when they arrive at the school is slowing down, particularly when they have come from a carpentry background. My experience is that when they do their hand skills take off. I see this as each day passes with Adam. I am so pleased that we are able to make this journey with him.

Ed from Kamloops British Columbia and his first ever set of very clean half lapped pins. On the first day students were given the secrets to dovetails; sharp tools, good light, sweet wood and a relaxed approach. What we see here is a result of all those things and a desire to do nice work. Ed is a welcome addition to our program and our community.

Michael of Halfmoon Bay British Columbia proudly displays his first set of dovetails. Michael has really embraced the philosophy of the school. He arrives before 7am each morning always with a smile and a kind word, not to mention a new box of treasures rescued from his shop, which he uses to fill the gaps in his day by cleaning and tuning. When the idea for this school was first conceived and I began thinking about the ideal student, I must have been thinking of Michael.

Each student is given the opportunity this past week to make a shooting board, a bevel gauge and a paring chisel, all of which will be used in the coming week of drawer making and fitting and on an ongoing basis throughout their life as a craftsman.

Juan Carlos from Caracas Venezuela cuts the form for his compound curved panels. Having second year students at the school gives first year students the opportunity to see the possibilities, which exist while still completing the fundamental skills. A lot of the learning, which goes on at the school, comes from watching these fellow students at work. Alumni Federico Mendez Castro dropped by the school this week to share some of his insight with Parquetry and working with compound curves with Juan Carlos.

Robert recognizes the importance of Benchroom this Week and enjoys writing however he would be rather working on the coped joints where the arm rests meet the back legs of his chair.