September 21, 2007

Our small school just hours before the Craftsman Program begins. This year’s class includes eleven first year and three second year students, including one who completed his first year at the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program. Our students this year come from Japan, England, Venezuela, the United States and Canada. Robert has moved his secondary bench from his benchroom into the main benchroom. The bench is the same model as Robert’s primary bench but is much smaller and allows our students to view demonstrations from all angles without occupying too much space in the benchroom. This bench was hand made by Leif Carlson of Malilla Hyvelbankar in Sweden. For more information visit his website If any of our alumni would like to order one of these fine benches, contact the school as we will be placing another order this fall. Another major improvement is the wood floor installed by Kevin and Ian during our Craftsman Program preparation week. It has already saved a few irons including one of my own. Not to mention it dampens sound and is much easier on all our joints.

Leif at his little shop in Sweden.

As is tradition here at Inside Passage, this year’s class was treated to the first Monday morning yoga session at Yoga by the Sea conveniently located above our school. This optional activity prepares students and faculty both mentally and physically for the coming week. The class is taught by a friend of ours, Marney Coulter who adjusts the routine to accommodate the specific needs of woodworkers. Almost our entire class has decided to continue on with the Monday morning ritual.

Guest Faculty for 2008

Armchair by Adrian Ferrazzutti in wenge and leather

Composing with Adrian Ferrazzutti June 30th – July 4th

We have made one change to our guest faculty for 2008. Adrian Ferrazzutti will be will be teaching a one week design class. Adrian’s has developed a reputation as one of Canada’s predominate designers and makers. Watch for a description of this program in an upcoming addition of Benchroom this Week.

Adrian Ferrazzutti butterfly table in Ebony, Holly and Silver to see more of Adrian’s incredible work visit his website

Michael Burns is the program director of the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program, a fine craftsman, an inspiring teacher and a dear friend.

Intricate Joinery with Michael Burns July 7th – 11th

This class will be hands on. You will make a variety of jigs, fixtures and joints to take back to your shop. Joint design, aesthetics, machine use and handwork will be covered. We will focus on joints for chairs, tables, stands and casework. A few of the joints covered include: mitered frame with through tenons, tenons in round stock and compound angles with slip tenons. We can work on any joint that you are interested in trying, or refine a joint you have already attempted. You can do a very small project with sophisticated joinery.

Mendo Ming chair in kwila by Michael Burns.

Another of Roberts teachers, David Welter will be joining use next summer when he teaches Artisan A – Hand & Machine Tools July 14th though 18th.

In this program, students will be introduced to the possibilities of working wood with simple yet well-tuned and effective hand tools as well as the set up and safe use of the machines commonly used in woodworking. Through a series of talks, demonstrations and exercises, students will be guided through the tuning, sharpening, set up and use of hand tools, including block and bench planes, spokeshaves, scrapers and chisels.
Students will have the opportunity to practice set up and safe use of the bandsaw, jointer, planer and table saw. Students will learn their applications, blade and knife changes as well as set up and ongoing maintenance of each of these tools. Students will be encouraged to develop a sensible balance between hand and machine tools.

Wood characteristics, cuts, movement, selection and graphics will be explained and explored.

China Cabinet by David Welter.

David has taught at the College of the Redwoods for over twenty years. Robert is very grateful to have had each of his teachers teach at our small school.

Jim Krenov addressed the class on the first day and spoke to the group about sharpening. Jim emphasized the importance of slowing down and enjoying the process as they begin their journey. Jim’s lecture this week dealt with plane making. Shown is a small wooden smoother by JK. Jim suggested not to rush the shaping process but rather live and work with the plane and make adjustments as necessary. He said that he usually spends a couple of day refining the shape of each of his planes.

Resident Craftsman (second year student) and teacher Kevin Kelly demonstrates set up of the bandsaw during the Machine Room Safety orientation. On the third day of the program following sharpening and hand tool tuning demonstrations, students were given a thorough Machine Room Safety Orientation with Ian and Kevin. This orientation is presented early on and provides students with the confidence required to complete a millwork exercise, which immediately follows. Safety is discussed ongoing throughout the program.

Our students completed a millwork exercise where each had the opportunity to mill all fundamental exercise material oversized. This will allow the material to relax under their benches while they complete exercises. Each Saturday afternoon they will take the material they require for the coming week and mill it to final dimension. This is in keeping with how we approach the material for our projects.

Walker Savage from Seattle Washington tuning up his block plane. Students are given the necessary information and opportunity to tune up and sharpen each of the required hand tools, which will be used throughout the year.

Dan Cearley from San Jose California grinds a plane iron using the hand grinder. Students are introduced to this very sensitive and effective tool on the first day when we begin sharpening. I have found most students who are used to power grinders find it an easy transition.

Michael Miller from Half Moon Bay British Columbia uses shooting board to plane chamfers on his plane ramps. Students will be making shooting boards this coming week. In addition to hand planes and chisels, students will make several implements while at our school which are used daily in our craft.

Resident Craftsman (second year student) Doug Ives cleans up the through tenons on serving tray stand. Doug hosted first Elephants at his new home in lower Gibsons. Students, Alumni, faculty, family and friends were treated to some great food and an incredible view of the harbor. Craftsman alumni Brent Curry made the journey all the way from Bainbridge Island Washington to join us.

Robert lectures on the subtleties of making fine planes.

Eric Copeland, from Richmond Hill Ontario takes his first shavings with his wooden smoother. Eric has completed his first two planes, a smoother and a jointer and has moved onto the Perfect Board Exercise. Eric is making the journey with his wife Ericka who is working at the Sechelt Animal Hospital.

Throughout the program, students are encouraged to develop a sensible balance between the use of hand and machine tools. In keeping with this philosophy, Dan brought in his personal coffee hand grinder for use at the shop. Dan purchased the grinder when he was doing anthropology work in Guatemala where power outages were frequent. Michael arranged for the Straight Coffee distributor to drop by. We now have the finest beans available on the coast delivered to our door where they are hand ground, brewed and enjoyed. Straight Coffee roast their own beans and is located just down the road in Wilson Creek. They distribute only fair trade, shade grown beans.

Adam Larson from Edmonton Alberta takes his first shavings with wooden smoother. Adam was on our waiting list and was informed less than a month before the start of the program that we had a cancellation. He and his wife Jodie, who is expecting a baby in mid October, dropped everything to join us this fall. Another example of the commitment and the sacrifices our students and their families make to attend our school. We are very grateful to have Adam and Jodie with us and look forward to having another baby around.

Matt Hales from England via Vancouver uses his shop made hammer to adjust his wooden smoother. Matt is very new to this craft however he has the right approach to the craft and is a fine fit here at the school.

Douglas from Gibsons British Columbia takes his first shavings with his wooden smoother. Douglas and his wife Danielle had their first child a little more than a month ago. Douglas’ eyes light up when he speaks of his young family.

Paul from Crested Butte Colorado hones one of his irons at his sharpening station. Students have sharpening stations adjacent to their benches to encourage frequent honing. Paul and his wife Robyn have made the journey together. Paul is an avid fly fisherman and has offered to provide Robert with a few lessons while here at the school.

Ed from Kamloops British Columbia takes his first shavings with his wooden smoother. Ed is another of our students who is very new to our craft. Our small class size here at Inside Passage allow us to accept students of all levels of experience provided they share a passion for the craft and approach it in a sensitive manor. Typically the level of experience ranges from none to thirty-five years!

Resident Craftsman (second year student) Juan Carlos Fernandez arrived back from Caracas Venezuela. His wife Beatrice returns from Venezuela at the end of the month. We are grateful to have Juan Carlos back, with his fine hand skills, exceptional eye and developed aesthetic; our students have a great deal to learn from this aspiring craftsman.

Ryan from Wetaskiwan Alberta takes his first shavings with his wooden smoother. Ryan has been working in an industry that is philosophically at odds with the approach we take with our craft. He suggested to me on the day we met that he is looking for a life changing experience here at the school.

Ian demonstrates bench and plane use. Ergonomics play a very important role in our work. Ian is nearing completion of his shop and is expecting the delivery of his Felder full combination machine this week. This is an exciting time for this gifted young craftsman and teacher. This is Ian’s second year teaching at our school. Yvonne and I are very grateful to have him with us.

Daisuke from Nishio-shi Aichi-ken Japan takes his first shavings with his wooden smoother. Daisuke another of our students who is just beginning his journey as a craftsman, we are pleased that we can begin his journey with him.

Robert demonstrated the making of irons and chip breakers this week as a side activity. Understanding this simple process, which requires minimal tools and materials readily available provides students with the necessary skills to make irons for specific tasks that are not commercially available.

Our second Elephants took place at Varco beach just down the road from the school. Where we were treated to another lovely sunset. This week students, alumni, faculty, family and friends will gather at the co housing in Roberts Creek where Gary Kent, our Relief Teacher will be hosting Elephants. Robert was unable to join Gary for the College of the Redwoods Twenty Fifth Anniversary reunion and show which took place during the first week of our Craftsman Program. Congratulations College of the Redwoods on twenty-five years of quality craft education.