Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Practical Woodworking Day 1

I sit down this morning to write to you about the first day of the Practical Woodworking course here at Lohr's School of Woodworking. I must mention that there is no conceivable way for me to explain even half the information we received so, I highly recommend signing up for the class. Even within the first day, the amount of knowledge you will leave with is worth the tuition alone.

Let me first say, what a day! The day began with eleven students gathering from all around the tri-state area. I was amazed and impressed at the range of people that are attracted to this school. Students from such drastically different professions, backgrounds, and previous woodworking experience levels grouped together as we started with a tour of Jeff's house. He explained to all of us how everything from the foundation to the window sills were built with his own two hands. As we all stand in awe and appreciation for what we see around us, he pointed out the details and reasoning for each part of the building. He explained the months of work that went into the creation of his stunning live wood dining table. He explained how he used veneer from a stunning piece of wood to achieve the patterns and colors found in his sliding doors and bedroom furniture pieces. He explained how even upholsters the couches and chairs you see in the photo above! Each piece, students are told what detail and planning were needed to achieve the final product. Look at some of his work here but, you really have to see these pieces to understand their beauty.

After the tour, we gathered in the "classroom" in the back of the shop. Jeff gave a very thorough lesson on wood as a whole subject area. Paired with his verbal lesson, we were given diagrams, print outs, and visual images on a projector. We learned how/why/when/where trees grow and how it effects the wood we end up working with. Who knew that some trees can only reproduce during forest fires? Crazy! We were told about the grain of the wood and how it is related to the center of the tree. And, amongst other things, I now know the difference between plainsawn and quartersawn lumber. I am almost ready to waltz into a lumber mill and know what I am talking about!

Following the lesson, we were taken around the shop and introduced to each tool and/or machine we will be using for our project. The pros walked us through the steps on how to use each machine for each task we will be faced with while building our tables. Table saws, planers, and jointers galore! We were told and shown how to pick out a good piece of rough wood for whatever projects we may be faced with in the future, taking into account grain, straightness, and any flaws. We were then walked through the process of how to properly cut, joint, and plane the rough wood pieces so that you are left with smooth, straight, and accurately sized pieces of useable wood. Today, we will start with the legs of our tables!

And what a comfortable environment to learn about really sharp, intense power tools; safety was emphasized to the utmost degree. There are safety precautions around every corner and I'm sure we all take comfort in knowing that no student has ever been seriously hurt.

We were then introduced to wood glue and clamps. The varying kinds of glue (and clamps for that matter) were far beyond anything I had ever heard of before. In class, we will be using basic Elmer's wood glue to make seamless joints in our pieces and using an assortment of clamps to hold them together as they dry. No nails, no screws. This is a major part of what I love about the work that comes out of this shop!

Finally, we were assigned out benches for the week (I am lucky 11) and given our three boards. They are the boards that I helped sort and stack last week so I knew we would be handed rough boards but, I was excited just the same! We were given the chance to choose which board we wanted to use for which parts of our soon-to-be tables. With chalk, we loosely outlines which parts would be cut and used for which table parts. Today, we make the first cuts! I will join my classmates now and begin the journey to a completed table.

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