Education – It's All About the Pastries - Popular Woodworking Magazine
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A few weekends ago, we held a “Build a Sawbench” class in our palatial Cincinnati shop (we wish), and managed to squeeze in 10 students around nine benches – one of them a wee bit makeshift (sorry Trevor). No, we’re not planning to open a school here – and thank goodness – ’cause it’s awfully hard to find fresh pastries on a Sunday morning in Cincinnati (and fresh pastries are an essential part of a good class, in my opinion).

You see, we wanted to film a video of making a sawbench – which, in case you don’t know, is a must-have shop appliance for sawing by hand (not to mention it doubles as an excellent shop stool). Initially, we planned the shoot for our palatial photography studio (the studio really is quite nice – the photographers are spoiled). But we thought it might be more fun to show people other than Chris building the sawbench. So, with less than two weeks to plan, we put out a call for students.

Friday afternoon before the class, Chris and I were frantically surfacing and sizing big box stock and making stacks of parts, so everything would be ready bright and early Saturday morning. Then, I ransacked our office to find a working coffee maker (usually, we just run out to Starbuck’s).

Saturday morning at 8 a.m., our first student walked in, and soon thereafter we were off and running.  The students were an incredibly attentive mix of people who ranged from a 17-year-old high school student who took the class with his father, to a recent retiree – they were a lot of fun. (And they were the quietest bunch of people I’ve ever encountered together in one room. Maybe that’s because Chris kept them busy!)

While the end result of the class was a sawbench, the real lessons learned were essential hand-tool skills including sawing with precision, laying out and cutting compound angles, using a router plane to perfect joinery, and more. We also learned a boatload about the different types of saws and sawcuts. And by the end of the class, I think it’s fair to say that everyone was more confident in their skills. And, every student completed his or her sawbench (some even added fancy decorative flourishes – overachievers!).

We filmed almost the entire class (including me cursing a few times – oops), but it’s been edited (and bleeped) to 104 minutes of essential instruction so that you can learn at home what we learned in class. Plus, the DVD includes complete construction drawings, a plan for the building procedure and a SketchUp model of the project. You can see a trailer for “Build a Sawbench with Christopher Schwarz” in our store, and right now, the DVD is on pre-sale for $19.99 (the price goes up to $24.99 when the DVD arrives in our warehouse – which should be in two weeks or so).

— Megan Fitzpatrick

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Showing 6 comments
  • Mark

    Now I’ve got sound. I forgot where to put the quarter in! (embarrassed emoticon here)

  • megan

    Mark,
    Yes you do. There’s even a well-placed "BEEP" to cover one of my uh, less-than-polite exclamations…

  • Mark

    Do you get sound if you buy the DVD? 😉

  • megan

    Kent,
    That’s exactly where I ended up!

  • Kent

    Sunday AM in Cincinnati:

    Bruegger’s for Bagels
    Busken’s for Pastries

  • Rob Young

    Wow, very important to get that last "r" in the title. Completely changes the context of the message otherwise!

    Looks like it was a fun class under any conditions!

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