5 Days of Esherick

3_amigosLast week we had three fairly accomplished woodworkers in the 360WW shop to build music stands inspired by the Wharton Esherick’s iconic piece. The week started with lots of discussion of Esherick, his methods and motivations for the pieces he built. I had spent time over the last few weeks studying and developing full-size drawings for the stand.

Instead of building from the ground up, I thought it best to start right at the top. When the discussion and planning part of the class was finished, I had the class jump right into making the frames that hold the sheet music. The joinery is fairly simple, like all of Esherick’s pieces, but there were still enough challenges for even the most accomplished woodworker.

We had spent the entire week pouring over tons of photos figuring out the tiniest details. In the end we decided we had invested far more time than Esherick.

3_standsI can honestly say, it was one of the best classes I’ve ever taught. All three of the participants had great attitudes, good skills and understood my sense of humor. And, as you can see from the photo, they all pretty much had their projects wrapped up. All that remained at the end of the week was the final glue-up, shape and attach the shelf, and the final leveling.

The part I like best about teaching classes is I get to see the projects and techniques through others’ eyes. Like many of the projects I’ve made over the years, no matter how in-depth I get studying the details another pair of eyes is bound to point out something I didn’t see. That happened numerous times this past week.

Another thing I like about teaching classes is the look on students’ faces when I grab a tools and do something that is second nature to me, but brand new to them. This happened less with this particular class because of the skill level of the students, but it still happened. It’s those moments during a class that make it worthwhile. Often the class takes a turn in a new direction for a while, but we always return to the primary objective. It’s something that just can’t happen in a written article or a video. It’s the reason taking classes is so vital to becoming a better woodworker – there’s no substitute to learning by doing, even if you end up learning something you weren’t expecting.

— Chuck Bender


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