This week marks the half way point in the class I’m teaching at WoodItIs here in Las Vegas. WoodItIs is a wonderful school located in North Las Vegas and founded by Jamie Yocono. She has expanded the physical size of the school and offers a full complement of classes through our local colleges and university. She also has a series of classes where students start with the basics and advance to becoming proficient furniture makers. Besides the school, Jamie takes on a variety of custom woodworking projects. Anyone wanting to learn the basics of woodwork and furniture construction can find a starting place at her school. I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited as a guest instructor teaching the hand tool aspects of our craft.
The class runs from 11:00 – 2:00 for six Saturdays. We began with learning how to properly sharpen plane and chisel blades. Not having a properly sharpened tool only causes a lot of frustration to anyone learning how to use hand tools. Although not a requirement, students were encouraged to bring in their own tools to begin the learning process. These first two weeks had lots of lecture/demonstration and I’m afraid I was too busy to take any photos! We’re using a bench hook as the initial learning project. Although this could simply be three pieces of wood, some screws, and glue I’ve developed this into what I call “Project Overkill”! The main board for the bench hook is used to develop our hand plane skills. Starting with a working edge (Jack plane), then a working end (block plane), and finally planing the board to width. After that, the students cut a dovetail to secure the two pieces together and the hook part of it is housed in a hand cut dado. I bring in my two, old Stanley router planes so they can experience that tool. One of the students has a new Lie-Nielsen version of the router plane! You can see in the pictures above and below that they are hard at work on this project. Time seems to just fly by when you’re engaged in the quietness of hand tool work. We generally end up going past the two o’clock hour but that’s okay!
One student completed all three pieces at the end of the class today so first thing up for the next session will be an assembly demonstration. The remaining 3 sessions are a time for them to put this work into practice on a project of their choice. The class description suggested a box with lid. I’ve been asking (bugging?) them to come up with the size and purpose for the box but for some reason haven’t had any responses. My guess is that they are so intent on learning the skill, making a box hasn’t sunk in yet!
Today I brought in a tool tote that I had used in another class and the response from them tells me that it may be a winner. The inspiration for this project came from Jim Tolpin’s book: The New Traditional Woodworker. Those of you with sharp eyes may notice that the one pictured has dovetails on one end and pegged lap joint at the other — this was done as a learning exercise but for this class it’ll be dovetailed all around. This seems like a logical choice for a project seeing how they will need a way to carry their tools anyway. We’ll use Pine for this with a Baltic Birch plywood bottom. Due to time and equipment restraints I’ll probably rough cut their materials for them. Looking forward to seeing how they apply what they struggled to learn on the bench hook to this project.