Monday, December 3, 2012

Cleaning the Shop

This morning, we count down the minutes until students begin to arrive for December's Practical Woodworking Course. This week-long course will teach myself and my fellow students all the basics of practical woodworking. I am beyond excited to feel knowledgeable and accomplished with the fancy new table I will create by the end of the week!

This class does not prepare itself by magic, of course. On Friday, I was faced with my first "clean the shop" day. As four of us scrambled around this monstrous studio trying to rid it of dust and wood chips, the task seemed insurmountable. I was, of course, proven wrong.

To the left, you can see what the shop looked like upon arrival on Friday morning. The top photo was taken from the near the door to enter the shop and the one below it was taken from the rear of the building. Because there are constantly things to be done and messes to be made, it's easy for such a place to find itself in disarray quite frequently. And, let's not forget that, for the most part, it is three men that occupy and work within these walls so a consistent disaster seems inevitable :)

I was assigned to shop vac duty. Who knew there was such a powerful vacuum out there? My first thought was that this suction could do wonders on all the cat hair in my carpets at home. But, for the day, I was just as excited to use it to suck up piles of wood shavings with ease. As I worked my way around the room trying to clean all the corners and crevasses, I took it as an opportunity to learn where things belong. Drill bits go in their correctly sized hole on the shelf at the left front of the shop, sanders belong in the metal cabinet toward the right front, and so on. I'd like to think I am getting the hang of things.

As I mentioned, the class doesn't prepare itself. So, beyond vacuuming, sweeping, dusting, and organizing the contents of the shop, we had to prepare the materials that will be used for the class. To the right, you can see myself (naturally, covered in dust because of my dedication to cleaning) and Eoin bringing down the wood that will soon be eleven beautiful tables. Because I am still an amateur ladder climber, my duty was the stand at the bottom (where it is less likely that I will break anything) and receive each plank to stack in groups of three. Each piece was chosen and labeled specifically for certain parts of the tables. Once all the boards were down and grouped by their pre-labeled numbers, we moved each stack to the back of the room to await their eager student. I was chatting with Eoin about how fulfilling it will be to see myself and my classmates transform these ordinary looking boards into a function and beautiful piece of furniture!

By the time 3:30pm rolled around, the shop looked like a new place! The tools all in their right places, the wood neatly grouped and stacked, the floor swept, and the blackboards ready for instruction. For my fellow students, I can assure you of a clean and tidy learning environment for this week's class. I am very much looking forward to potentially the most informative and interesting job 'training' I might ever experience. I am also extremely pleased to know that I will be surrounded by ten fellow eager learners.

For anyone even slightly interested in enrolling in this Practical Woodworking class, I will be updating daily about our lessons and tasks so you can have an idea of what you would experience here! For those of you that have already taken the course, I hope you can reminisce about your experiences here and come back for one of the more advanced courses!

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