Thursday, April 18, 2013

Class is (still) in Session!

Today is Day 4 of the Practical Woodworking course for April! My how time flies, right? The students haven't wavered in their eagerness and determination and it shows. In the past two days, all the students have managed to take three rough FAS red oak boards and turn them into table legs, tops, and today, skirt boards!

Day 2 primarily focused on leg creation. Students ripped, jointed, and planed boards to their designated thickness, width, and lengths. Because the rough boards weren't 2" thick like we would need them to be for the legs' final
thickness of 1 3/4", students needed to take their milled thickness (usually around 1") and glue two leg lengths together. Although we could have provided them with 2" stock, Jeff has arranged the course so that students are learning as much as possible about procedure and problem-solving in the six days they are here. Cutting 2" thick boards into the correct lengths and squaring them would be to easy and where is the challenge in that? Now, eleven more people know how to create seamless glue joints in order to create a desired thickness!

From there, the students jointed, ripped, and planed their legs to be square. This is a task that isn't as easy as we hope it might be so I am proud of the students for accepting such a challenge and succeeding as they did. After the legs are milled, squared, and cut to length, they need a bit of planning.

After each person decided which way they wanted their legs facing and placed with respect to the front/back/sides of the table, they labeled them with corresponding numbers as to not lose sight of their plan as they moved on to the next step. What is the next step? Mortising! I am in charge of the mortising jig station these days and it's one of my favorites. Jeff made a jig that allows for the router to cut two perfect mortises into four legs in a matter of 4-6 minutes and, thus, the master is the master for a reason.

Whilst legs were drying and/or in production, students tackled their tabletops. Because the weather has managed to linger around 65-72 degrees lately, we were able to set up the infamous router table outside. With a choice between ripping the width of the boards (so the widths will fit on the jointers), milling and gluing back together or taking to the router sled table, students made a working face on their table tops. With a working face, they were able to send their tops through the planer with a flat surface to mimic for a parallel side.

I must admit that I love class because I get to play with so many of the impressive jigs around this shop all in one week. Lucky for students, they get the same luxury. Jeff always says that photos, videos, questions, and notes are highly encouraged so if a student doesn't take everything not nailed down over the course of the week, they are missing out on the full potential of the class offerings. That means it requires only the labor and parts for students to replicate these tools for their own shops; the concept, plans, and assembly are described in full detail during class!

The final stages of the past couple of days means gluing together any ripped table tops, cutting mortises into the nicely squared legs, and the beginning stages of milling the skirt boards.

Today has been a day full of routers and tenons, although relatively unrelated. Students were introduced to dado heads for the table saw to make tenon creation worlds easier. "Router University" taught by professor Rob is always informative and, as I hear a room full of laughter erupt in the next room, I know it is also full of quips. The students will walk away knowing how to create all sorts of fun shapes and decorative edges to their table tops, skirt boards, and legs. And, thus beginning my favorite day(s) of the course, when students begin to add their own imaginative details to their tables and they take their unique forms.

A temporary goodbye from another rainy spring day from Pennsylvania and happy almost-weekend to you all!

1 comment:

  1. This really looks like fun, someday I need to take a class. Thanks for sharing and I look forward to following your progress...!