Classy woodworking

The best thing about having classes in my shop is the people I get to know. Most are fairly intelligent, witty, naturally curious and creative. Sounds like most woodworkers you know, doesn’t it?

The projects we tackle in class are pretty complex but not so much so that the students are overwhelmed. For a bunch of folks who are woodworking recreationally, I’m always shocked at the intensity with which they approach the work. For folks who have “real” jobs they sure do set expectaions for their proficiency. In my natural, self-deprecating fashion I try to get them to realize, through humor, that they might be setting the bar a bit high for someone who works wood “occassionally”.

At the end of the day, however, it is not my humorous anticdotes nor is it my gentle poking fun at their unrealistic expectations that I can consider the funniest class moments. No, it is the comments I hear them make. Sometimes they make them to themselves and other times they make them to other students.

A case in point was just a few weeks ago. We had a miniature blanket chest class. All the students have been here before. All went through the Fundamentals program and a few had taken additional classes. This group, like most that come through here, is pretty remarkable. Their projects came out fantastically but not without a few bumps along the road. Sure, there’s the odd “I cut this twice and it’s still too short” kind of thing  that happens. Mostly the chests went off without too many hitches.

After the class was over, one of the students remained because he was heading home the day after. As it fairly common, my wife and I ended up trekking out to one of our favorite places to eat with him. During the meal the conversation ranged from small talk about family to some of the high points of the class. As we turned the corner on the ride home the conversation turned to one of those particularly funny moments. The student and I were working on hinging his lid while another student was attempting to wrap the molding around his. Yet another student offered to help since I was tied up. Things seem to be moving along well with the molding until that one critical point.

In a very calm, dry manner the student helper said to the other, “Umm, John, I think there might be a problem. You just nailed the lid shut.” To which both responded by trying to lift the lid only to have it remain exactly where John had attached it.  I laughed so hard that I barely made the turn into the driveway. I’m not laughing at you John, but with you my friend.

It wasn’t what was said but how it was said that was the funniest. It always seems to be that same “matter of fact” tone of voice. Like in the Fundamentals 3 class we had recently where the students were rough cutting 8/4 stock to length for milling into legs for the one drawer stands. I use a Bosch jigsaw for nearly everything including rough cutting material. I just find it safer, and quieter, than a circular saw. So I demonstrated how I wanted the boards cut and, as a class we marked out the boards for cutting. The students set to work. About 3/4 of the way through the pile one of the students leans on the rough cut blanks, holds the jigsaw up against the next plank to be cut and announces “it doesn’t cut all the way through an 8/4 board”.

All this got me to thinking about the various classes that have taken place here over the last sixteen months. There are quite a few “noteable quotables” and, from time to time, I will post them here. Usually every class has at least one so be on the lookout. The posts will most likely be short and to the point. Hopefully you will find my warped sense of humor worth the read.







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