Well, It has been a little while since I first began this Blog. A bunch has happened since then. Most of which I will get to later in this post.
First off, I was rereading my previous posts. I must admit to being a bit embarrassed about their general composition. Normally, I pride myself on my ability to get ideas to paper with both passion and precision. I regret to say, that the previous three posts do not rise to this standard. In future, I will be making a much more focused effort to craft these posts with the same care and love that I use in my woodworking.
OK, so classes at Red Rocks Community College are progressing rapidly. To say that their Introduction to Fine Woodworking class is akin to drinking from a fire hose is a bit of an understatement. In the beginning of this class, the focus is entirely on wood anatomy, drying practices, selection and purchasing, followed by an introduction to hand tools. The hand tooling portion of this class, so far, is really the meat and potatoes of what I wanted to get out of this class.
let me back up just a little. I have mentioned that I have been a woodworker for the better part of 20 years (ish). While I have largely enjoyed my career as a woodworker, I always had one glaring omission that I really, REALLY wanted to address. This was the effective and efficient use of hand tooling in an actual production environment. Now, this class will not be the end all and be all of my had tool use. But it does serve to fill some gaps in my education.
For starters, I have been very pleased that the professors have been so militant about blade sharpening. Recently, an entire class period (4 hours) was dedicated to what the instructors say, is just the very tip top of the iceberg. FOUR HOURS!
Now, this might sound a little excessive. Perhaps even boring. This class was neither. For me, it was exactly why I enrolled in this class. It is the minutia of woodworking that causes some sexual arousal in my loins. Things like grain orientation, wood movement, various differences in cutting tools, and of course, sharpening.
The deadline for our first project is approaching. It is a small footstool. On it’s face, this sounds easy. On the contrary, there will be ten….count them ten….through tenons used in it’s construction. Have I mentioned that this project will be built using nothing but hand tools? This is the most daunting facet of this project to this avowed machine junkie. Using hand planes to “6-square” boards is a bit of a challenge for me so far, but I am showing promise the more I do it. No wedges created yet. Hand saws to crosscut and rip boards have proven to be surprisingly efficient to use for rough dimensioning of lumber, and at some point, the use of chisels to chop out all those mortises……oh joy! One of the wonderful aspects of this class, has been that we are not only learning the basics of the efficient use of hand tools, but, we are learning the nuances of using these tools. Patience, pace, and attention to not just the tool, but also, and perhaps more importantly, what the tool does to the wood as well. For example, when chopping a mortise, we are told to begin the cut a bit forward of the mark out line, so as not to “crush” the wood fibers at the end of the mortise. This is the type of woodworking goodies I have been hoping for.
So there you have it, a short but sweet recap of some of how this class has been progressing. Very interesting, very engaging, and very fast paced. As soon as I can, I will also post up something regarding progress in the new workshop, and the progress on deciding on, and design of the new workbench too.