This week I’m in Bavaria to teach two woodworking classes at the workshops of Dictum GmbH. (And to visit my favorite coffee machine in the entire world.)
However, instead of pushing the machine’s buttons over and over, I’m teaching in a different workshop and making friends with a different coffee machine.
Because of heavy rains and flooding in eastern Bavaria, the Dictum workshop outside of Deggendorf at Neideralteicht has been almost completely ruined. The waters from the swollen Danube filled the workshop almost to its ceiling.
The good news is that the Dictum employees rescued most of the machinery and tools from the well-stocked shop (and that the shop is being rebuilt). The bad news is that the shop is a wreck for the time being.
So instead of teaching in the bucolic German countryside, I am teaching in downtown Munich in a Dictum workshop attached to the company’s newest retail store. This shop is smaller than the one in eastern Bavaria. But it is attached to a very large tool store, which is intoxicating – perhaps the largest hand-tool store I’ve ever been in.
Today I taught the first day of a class on building a bowsaw to 12 students, and we tripped over and sweated upon one another the entire day, but it was productive. Almost all of the students are building their bowsaws entirely by hand (except for a little turning on an electric lathe). And it’s amazing to be reminded what can be done with just a few tools, a little bench space and a new coffee machine.
I had designed the class to be a one-day affair. However, I hadn’t paid close enough attention to the calendar; it was supposed to be a two-day class. As a result, we have been able to cover some more parts of the tool in detail or explore other areas. Instead of making a handle that is a tapered octagon, we have the time to turn the handle and the front knob. For many of these students, it is their first or second time to turn. So that’s fun.
And the pace is a bit slower than usual. By “usual” I mean “completely frantic.”
Perhaps I will plan more classes like this. It’s nice to have time for a cup of coffee.
Speaking of which, I don’t know if the Munich coffee machine will ever replace the one I adore in the classroom at the monastery, but I am trying hard to be a stoic here in the little burg of Munich (and to keep from eyeing the Turkish coffee down the street).
— Christopher Schwarz
If you are interested in toolmaking, I recommend John Wilson’s excellent book “Making Woodworking Tools.” His tools are not precious. They are designed to work very well and be simple to build with typical woodworking tools.