School Days…….(and a direction for this blog is taking shape)

Last night was my first class at Red Rocks Community College here in Denver, Colorado. After many years working professionally as a woodworker, my wife finally talked me into adding some alphabet soup to the end of my name.

Now, this is no small feat. I had steadfastly refused to re-engage in woodworking as a profession, let alone go to school for it. However, the more Love Of My Life (henseforth referred to as LOML) and I would discuss what we wanted for our futures, and the more I meditated on what I was really passionate about, the more woodworking kept being the one thing that I could truly point to as my hypothetical ideal career choice.

So, with a direction discussed and decided on, I took the plunge and enrolled in Red Rocks Community College’s Fine Woodworking program. My research revealed that this program is well thought of, and regarded as one of the better offerings out there, west of the Mississippi.

Going into this program, I mentally decided to make myself a blank slate. My intention is to proceed with the program as though I have never cut a single stick of wood in my life.

I had many reasons for this. Most of all, I want to get the most that this program has to offer. Even though I have plenty of experience working wood, some of my father’s words of wisdom keep popping into my thoughts.

“There is a BIG difference between having XYZ number of years of experience, and having the same experience XYZ number of times.”

In other words, if I feel as though I know it all, then there is a REAL big problem. I would be completely negating the whole purpose for going back to school.  My intention is to start from scratch, learn new skills, un-learn bad habits, and also to rekindle the fire and passion I have for working wood.

Another reason for starting from scratch is to really focus on each and every skill being taught, and to refine what skills I do have to a much more coheasive skill set. It occurs to me that taking a “never stop learning” attitude, will not only serve me well going through school, but in getting into this habit now, will definitely benefit me in the future as well.

My first class was on a very cold, and icey night. Things were a little touch and go as to if the class was even going to happen at all due to the lack of students in attendance at the beginning of the scheduled class time. As it turns out, besides me, there are at least another 15 die hard students willing to brave the elements, and abjectly moronic drivers in Denver. (how can people LIVE here, and still loose their minds and common sense whenever the snow starts to fall????…..I digress)

My professor and his teaching assistant seem at first blush, to be very well versed in woodworking in general, and hand tools in particular. Fellow tool junkies it seems……..I am HOME. This is by far the best scholastic experience I have ever had. Well equipped shop, knowledgable instruction, and the realization that the passion for woodworking is alive and well. RRCC Fine Woodworking Program…so far…..very highly reccomended.

Moving on.

Blogging is quite new to me. While I read and enjoy a number of blogs by other people, the notion of writing one of my own never occured to me. That is , until I read Chris Schwarz’s blog(s). I credit his writing with helping stir up my addiction to tools and work benches. NOT just those two things mind you, but those are the two that I noticed first. Endless Googling of obscure workbench designs, and hand planes etc.

In addition to awaking my dormant woodworking soul, Chris also does an amazing job of perpetuating the love of woodworking, and passing it on to others. THIS is a huge thing to me. He gleefully displays his obvious love for woodworking geekery…..this is my kind of guy.

So I thought I would take a shot at blogging too. Even if no one actually reads this, I like the idea of documenting my rediscovery of woodworking. I would like to think that there are some interesting thoughts and experiences that I would like to get recorded as I move through this adventure. School, classmates, what I am learning, what is old hat verses what is new to me.

Also, I confess that I too, am a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE tool junkie. The first shop I had, I spent countless hours researching the machines I wanted, and how best to place them/use them in a two car garage. I find that, since I am starting from scratch building my new shop, I am rediscovering the fun that the research is. I love finding the best tools, discovering what makes them the best, then going out and wheeling and dealing for them. I absolutely love the thrill of the hunt for good quality tooling. I would rather hunt down older, used, high quality tools, than to walk into a store and plunk down cash for the newer stuff that is available now.

So I plan to discuss my progress in the re-construction of my new shop here in this blog as well. Let’s be honest, I could not lay claim to being any kind of woodwright without talking endlessly about my tools, finding my tools, dealing for my tools, and just tools in general. It’s just not done.

One other thing I want to talk about, at the risck of being a bit of a copy cat, is what I plan to do about building a workbench. (or, more than likely, a couple of workbenches)

I know it is a subject that has been covered, re-covered, and gone over ad infinitum. I know that guys (and some ladies too) have written PLENTY about the in’s and out’s of woodworking workbenches. Whole books have been dedicated to the subject. (Jim Tolpin or Chris Schwarz for instance) But I absolutely love workbenches. I love building them. So, since this IS  my blog, I intend to do some writing on the subject too.

Well, I think that should be enough blogging for now. Unless something interesting comes to me before my next class, I suspect that my next entry will be on that next class….and maybe something about tool hunting…..and also maybe something about workbenches too….LOL…..thanks for reading.

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