Chris Schwarz's Blog

Woodworking Classes for 2010

This year I tried to keep my teaching and traveling schedule fairly light so I could spend more time tinkering with our magazines, assembling books such as “Handplane Essentials” and hanging out with my wife and two girls.

For 2010, my failings as a spouse, parent and diligent editor are your gain.

I’ve decided to teach a few select classes in 2010. I really missed teaching, the close contact I get with readers and the stuff I learn from them. Teaching helps me with my job at the magazine. I would have never written the book “Workbenches,” for example, if I hadn’t watched students struggle on sub-par benches.

Here is a quick roundup of my calendar for 2010 in case you want to do a drive-by heckle.

February 26-27: Atlanta Woodcraft in Alpharetta, Ga. I’ll be teaching two one-day classes. One day will be on precision sawing. The other class is still up in the air. The classes aren’t posted yet on the store’s web site. I might also get to see one of my sisters during this trip , she and her family split their time between Atlanta and St. Louis.

March 27-28: Northeastern Woodworkers Association’s Showcase in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. I love this woodworking show. It’s the perfect blend of education, demonstrations, a gallery and commerce. I’ve been asked to teach short seminars this year on two topics: “Mastering Joinery Planes,” which are the essential planes for cutting and refining joints and how to choose, sharpen and use them. And “Why Ancient Workbenches are Better,” which is a slideshow trip through history to understand how many modern workbenches are failures at some important workholding tasks.

April 24-25: Handplane Weekend at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking: I love this class. Essentially, I assist Thomas Lie-Nielsen as we introduce students to the basics of choosing, setting up and using handplanes. Plus we have a few fun planing contests.

Sept. 13-17: Hand Joinery at Dick Gmbh , Fine Tools in Metten, Germany:
I don’t speak a lick of German (OK, I can order beer), yet, the nice people at Dick, a very large supplier of woodworking supplies, have asked me to come teach a class in basic hand joinery. We’ll be building a small cabinet from the Hancock community as part of the class. Also, David Charlesworth will be teaching at Dick that same week. I’m either going to have to bone up on some German or start practicing mime.

Sept. 25-26: Nine Essential Handplanes at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking: This is a new course I developed this year that I’m quite excited about. We’re going to take a deep dive into the details of the nine most essential planes of the craft: the jack, jointer, smoother, fillister, plow, shoulder, router, scraper and block planes. Each plane has its own personality and is sharpened, set up and used differently. We’re going to take two days to master these tools so you can use them with complete confidence in your shop at home or work.

Oct. 23-24: Hand Tool Boot Camp at Kelly Mehler’s School of Woodworking: This is another new course I developed this year. It is, in essence, how to get started in hand tools in a fairly painless way (by that I mean how to do it without spending tons of money). The course focuses on learning the basic skills with a few select tools and then gradually expanding your reach until you have a serious problem and need professional help. We also will build the Hancock cabinet shown above.

My other goal for 2010 is to take a class myself. Since the day I started woodworking I’ve been hankering to take a Windsor Chair class from Mike Dunbar at The Windsor Institute. I’ve visited the school on a couple occasions for photo shoots and just love it. And Mike is one of my heroes. A great teacher, a scholar and a funny guy. This is the year.

– Christopher Schwarz

18 thoughts on “Woodworking Classes for 2010

  1. Jonathan Crone

    Oh Chris, oh Chris…

    What level of Tim Hortons Coffee, and fine microbrewery "potent potables" bribery is necessary to get you up to Ottawa/Almonte to teach with the Rosewood Studio folks? Summer around here is fantastic. (just don’t come in February…)

    Bring the wife, bring the kids, we’ll put a list of Ottawa area woodworkers together to keep them entertained, while the sawing and handplaning go on!

    (please?)

  2. Bengt

    Finally I’ve figured out how to get "The joiner and cabinetmaker" signed by both you and Joel.
    See you in Metten!

    /Bengt

  3. Jonas H. Jensen

    I’ll consider coming to Metten. Afterall it is "only" a 1000 miles drive from my home, so a good long day in the car should do the trick.

  4. Ethan

    Chris,

    If you happen to miss your sister and her family in Atlanta, might I suggest you try catching up with them here in St. Louis?

    Please don’t make me beg. It isn’t pretty.

  5. Alfred Kraemer

    Another comment about your course a F. Dick in Metten:
    Lasse has put it straight pretty well. Things have changed quite a bit over the last, say forty years, and they probably never were as formal and stiff as sometimes suggested.
    Nevertheless, some things will be or at least appear peculiar. Metten is in smalltown Bavaria, pretty surroundings, the Danube river, etc, pretty conservative, too. However, even in conservative towns, far from the big cities, most Germans these days tend to have overall a genuine interest in people that visit their town.
    Just one thing, though, there is one greeting that you will hear when you are there, and that is pretty much only used in Bavaria and surrounding regions: Grüß Gott.
    A Spanish friend of mine thought it was a curse when he first heard it.
    By the way, the Metten Abbey has a library with a large, old collection of books, including old, illustrated carpentry/woodworking volumes.

    Alfred

  6. Auguste Gusteau

    Wonderfull! I will have the opportunity to finally make you some questions and some comments without you could delete them immediately.

    Auguste

  7. Glenn Whitener

    Aaaargh! Just as I am leaving Germany to the home shores, you come over here! And none of the US dates will be close to where I will end up. Schade.

    You will have fun at Dick, I think. Take some time, if you can, and visit the area. Munich, Salzburg, and Bamberg each have some special things to offer. Given your love of beer, you won’t find anything more special than Bamberg’s Rauchbier. However, any of the Munich beers are phenomenal. I find Augustiner’s Edelstoff extremely delicious, but there’s some pretty bad side effects for about 20% of the population. Extend your trip a little in Metten, then stay for the fun of Oktoberfest, and learn all about Kastanienallergie. Drinker be warned.

    I second Lasse’s thoughts. I am still just learning, and it has been very difficult to get instruction, or meet someone that would be willing to work with me. It’s great to learn by doing it oneself, but it’s much slower, and the Tischler here are less than forthcoming with information.

    Good luck with the classes!

  8. Ed

    Hi Chris,

    Are you doing any classes in Cincinnati? I just moved to the area and am trying to figure out what’s available in terms of learning resources. Thanks.

  9. Lasse Schroedter

    Hi Chris,

    Although I suspect that the comments about Germans were a bit tongue in cheek, I would like to inject a note of reality. While we are different from Americans, we are not the weird creatures Wesley Tanner describes. You may be called Mr Schwarz by your students but I would be very surprised if anybody called you Professor (and I think you will see as many neckties on your students as you will see spiked helmets).

    Righteous furor aside, I think it is great you are going to teach a class, because Dick is one of the few places in Germany where a layman can get hands-on experience in woodworking. This is something where I think the USA and Germany in fact differ. To me, Americans seem glad to share their knowledge, while in Germany, for a long time, handcraft knowledge was only passed on from guild member to guild member. I have even heard that guild statutes in 1840 specified that whoever wrote something down about the craft was to be whipped, for the duration of one Lord’s Prayer, with a hazel rod equal in diameter to the senior journeyman’s thumb . Part of this quaint atttitude still seems to reside in our heads.

    And although many Germans speak English (albeit not flawlessly, in spite of the nice flattery in another comment), feel free to learn some German. This one will start you off nicely: „Ich werde jeden, der in diesem Kurs eine japanische Saege benutzt, persoenlich in den Dorfteich tunken.“

    I hope you will enjoy teaching in Germany.

    Lasse

  10. Todd

    The precision sawing class in Atlanta sounds very interesting. When do you think they will start signing up? Also let us know what the other class will be in Atlanta.

  11. Shawn Wilson

    I am planning on taking the Rob Cosman class, but *somehow* my wife got pregnant wife two little girls… I won’t be able to make it up to Canada for couple more years. Those little girls are a handful right now.

    Shawn

  12. Jim Shaver

    Some great classes.
    One class that you should consider looking into are the one’s Rob Cosman offers, check out his web site for dates etc. He easily gives a 50+ hour class in a week, unlike classes I have taken elsewhere that close up at noon on Friday and spend a great deal of time in self promotion during your actual class time ( loosing close to a full day of actual class time) .

  13. James Watriss

    Also be aware that Germans typically study English and French extensively in school. The more technical terms they may have issues with, but by and large you should be fine.

    After being stationed there, I still remember going to restaurants, trying to order in broken German, and getting responses in flawless English. It’s very possible that it was a quirk of going to restaurants that were close to military bases. But I suspect that you’ll have an easier time than you think.

  14. Jim Paulson

    Hi Chris,
    It’s neat that you’ll be coming to the NWA show in March. I hope to see one of your seminars.

    Best wishes on achieving your goal of taking a class at the Windsor Institute. Many of us love to bring our spouses when we take classes as Hamption is a nice place to stay and visit. My woodworking skills and shop layout have been enhanced from learning Windsor chairmaking with Mike and his staff.

    God bless,
    Jim

  15. Christopher Schwarz

    Thanks for the tips! I believe there will be a translator.

    And I’ll have to look into buying a tie…..

    Chris

  16. Wesley B. Tanner

    Chris

    You will find teaching in Germany very a different experience. You should be quite prepared for class, and expect the students to be extremely formal. They may even address you as Herr Professor Schwarz! I know this will sound strange, but you might even consider wearing a necktie (I wear a bowtie to keep it out of the equipment). I would ask the Dick folks about a translator, it is likely they will have already set that up – you will give a long explanation, and the translator will shorten it to three sentences, and you’ll wonder if you’re in the same room! It will be best if you plan on having step-by-step instructions for the students; they won’t go off on their own as we Yanks do. But at the end of the day they’ll take you out for beer, and they’ll be a wild bunch. Culture shock for sure, but a great experience.

    Wesley

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