Back to School

BettyLeadYou are never too old to go back to school—woodworking school, that is. Of those in the States, many offer excellent instruction and are well worth the time and money invested. I’m quite familiar with five major woodworking schools, all of which have woodturning classes. Over the past fifteen years, I’ve taught numerous one- and two-week woodturning sessions at them, mostly in the summer months.

These woodworking schools aren’t anything like your high school shop class. Instead, they’re geared toward students enjoying the entire experience:  instruction, hard work, camaraderie, good food, and a chance to get away from a regular routine. Even with the intense work involved, most students feel revitalized after a solid week of focusing on their woodworking endeavors.

One of the side benefits of taking a class with other woodworkers is that you will learn from their mistakes. And since your spouse and friends won’t be popping into your shop, information about any mistakes you make will remain back in the classroom. A few years ago, one of my students ruined almost every bowl he attempted, finally finishing a respectable one the last day of class, so that’s the one he went home with. The rest of his experience, well . . . that remains a secret. Even so, I regard him as one of the most successful students ever. He definitely learned a lot!

Safety is a major component for woodworking schools—a must for maintaining a quality program. As a result, it’s guaranteed you’ll gain knowledge of safe and efficient methods of processing wood. Additionally, the better woodworking schools have the latest, up-to-date equipment and machinery, offering you the opportunity to try out new lathes, table saws, planers, jointers, and band saws. Just think of the possibilities for new toys in your own shop!

The five schools I’m most familiar with are Marc Adams School of Woodworking (Indiana); Anderson Ranch (Colorado); Appalachian Center for Crafts (Tennessee); Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts (Tennessee); and Center for Furniture Craftsmanship (Maine). These schools have been around for years and have a reputation of hiring excellent instructors and providing topnotch programs. There are many other schools, and a bit of research will reveal the perfect one for you. I strongly urge you to head back to school!

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