The Spice Must Flow

IMG_2725This past week was pretty special here in the 360 WoodWorking offices and shop: We hosted our first hands-on class. The students built spice boxes this week. And, oh, what spice boxes they made.

Like every class I’ve been involved with, at the beginning of the week, there’s no telling where it will go. As an instructor I paint a general roadmap of where I’d like to see it go – the class begins and everyone hopes for the best. I was pleasantly surprised at how the week went.

Teaching classes, and offering them to the woodworking public at large, can be something like craps. You put your money on the table, roll the dice and hope for the best (aka, pray). You just never know if the people that signed up have the skills necessary to accomplish anything, let alone the project. Nor do you know what they expect of the class until it’s half over. Most of the time people have a pretty good idea where they fall skill-wise, but you just never know.

SB3Fortunately, for 360 WoodWorking, this group underestimated their abilities and they all came with a tremendous attitude – more concerned with learning new skills than completing a project. Don’t get me wrong, everyone loves to get a project completed when they go to a class, but something as complex as a spice box is a pretty tough job for five days in a new environment working beside people with whom you’ve never worked. This class, however, got along extremely well (almost too well, in fact) and were very productive.

As Glen Huey pointed out in his posts from earlier in the week (here and here), not only were they productive, their work was top-notch. It’s amazing, and humbling, to see people achieve such great results in so short a period of time. That, to me, is the single greatest benefit to taking a hands-on class; you get to compress the experience curve. By working with someone who has a ton of experience, you can cut out all the trial and error.

You also don’t have to worry about the “hunt-and-peck” factor – where you don’t know how to do something, search all your available resources, give a method a try, find it didn’t quite work as advertised, rinse, wash and repeat. Hands-on classes cut through the nonsense. If you want to be a better woodworker, and haven’t invested in a hands-on class, you’re missing out on the fun, the camaraderie and the chance to take your skills to a new level in far less time than you ever imagined. Keep an eye on our “Hands-on Classes” page over the next couple of weeks for additions to our current offerings.

— Chuck Bender




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