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If you’ve been following my blog about the class at Marc Adams School of Woodworking (MASW), you’re waiting for photos from the last day of class. I will tell you that many of the projects look as they did when the class ended on Thursday. But the progress accomplished on Friday was outstanding.

Most class participants vetoed drawer dovetails in order to gain additional time to shape their drawer fronts. However, a couple took to dovetails and Thomas Older (shown in the photo at left), who is the intern at MASW this year, installed his base mouldings and feet while sculpting only one drawer front. The photos taken Friday certainly don’t look like those I snapped on Sunday evening as I arrived at the school. (You can see those photos by clicking the appropriate link below.)

In the Thursday entry, I mentioned the pranksters in class. During the discussion about drawers someone asked about installing metal drawer slides in this project. Needless to say, he heard a chorus of boos, but we did discuss why I would never attempt such an act and how the drawer building would need to change if someone were to install slides. The Questioner has broad shoulders and sustained the admonishment from the crowd.

Two of the guys in the class took a road trip to the Indianapolis Woodcraft store and I guess the entire drawer-slide episode was still fresh in their minds. They decided to purchase a pair of full-extension slides to add to my case. Upon arrival the next day, the slides were installed with double-stick tape and we all got a good chuckle. That looked very different from what I’m used to seeing.

In addition, I mentioned a use for blue painter’s tape that The Wood Whisperer would never have thought about. Marc Spagnuolo’s first article for Popular Woodworking (in August 2008) was “The Magic of Masking Tape” (issue #170). Marc uses painter’s tape for quick clamps and veneer clamps, just to name a couple.

In class when the time arrived to shape the drawer fronts, one woodworker decided that working without a glove was not going to cut it. However, the file was cutting his hands. To offset the mild abrasions, he covered his hand with blue tape. I must admit this was a first for me, although I have seen use of tape on fingertips when working large jobs of hand sanding. It worked in this case too. Before the class wrapped up, this guy had the drawer fronts shaped and was ready for dovetails. I heard from more than one participant that this was a great class.

If you have a minute, please leave a comment about any school experience that stands out in your mind. I’m not looking to bust any schools, so please don’t mention names. I’m interested in what separates a good experience from a bad experience. And given that experience, would you return?

p.s. Click here to read “Teaching at Marc Adams , Day One,” here for “Day Two,” here for “Day Three“, here for “Day Four” and here for “Day Five.”

, Glen D. Huey

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Showing 7 comments
  • John

    I think each of the people that attended this class achieved three important things.

    – They all built, or almost completed, a beautiful piece of furniture.
    – They learned/improved/refined a number of important skills/techniques that will help them as they attempt other similar styled pieces of furniture in the future.
    – They were able to attend a class taught by a recognized practitioner and expert in the field, who helped them with techniques that he/she has learned/refined/used over time, in a professional capacity, to deliver complex, high-quality pieces.

    I think that even if they went home with a few ‘patches’ over some mistakes they likely learned a professionals method for doing that.

    Just my $0.02 worth.

    John L.

  • alan womack

    Three years ago a friend and I made the trip to a week long hand tool basics class taught by a famous foreign furniture maker. I came with "sharp" tools, and left with SHARP tools. An ability to cut dovetails by hand, 6 square a board, and even occassionally cut to a line!

    We spent well over 60 hours in those 5 days busting our humps, we all paid to be there, all wanted to be there, and we all learned a great deal in a short time.


  • Lorraine

    I must say I was very excited when I visited the site today and found the class in the early stages of making Glen Huey’s Mass Block-Front Chest. I have his book and plan to make this chest in the near future.

  • Allen

    I’m enrolled in the furniture and cabintry program at the University of Cincinnati. To add to Chris’s comment above about being in a class of your own volition versus a forced-march experience, I agree 100%. Had I been, in high-school, made to take shop and had the average high-school woodshop experience I would likely have lost any interest I might have had in the craft.

    To parallel the above – I’ve been playing the piano since I was 5 years old and, at 37, I still play having taken lessons all the way through college. I hear from a lot of people, "Oh, my parents made me take piano lessons when I was a kid. I wish I had stuck with it." Therein, I believe, lies the difference. My parents never made me take lessons, I *asked* to do it.

  • Marc Spagnuolo

    haha now that is awesome. I think we will have to schedule an article update for all the new uses for blue tape. Simple, and effective. Looks like it was a great class too!


  • John Hoffman

    Glen on "Day Five" blog entry you mentioned that "Doug used a method for cutting the recesses that is rather interesting and I’ll talk more on that later". Still curious about this method. Are you going to add it to the next blog?


  • Chris C


    I enjoyed greatly your blog of the class you taught at
    MASW. It was very interesting to watch things unfold.

    To answer your open ended question about what separates
    a good learning experience from a bad one, I’ll journey into
    the realm of the philosophical.

    I would guess that the overwhelming bulk of the courses
    at MASW and other like places are well received in
    general. Why? Because they meet a couple of the
    criterion for REAL learning:

    1. An instructor who is a professional at what he or
    she does and is willing to help others learn.

    2. Students who choose to be there on their own
    free will.

    Contrast this to what most of us get a big fat dose
    of in "public schools":

    1. Instructors, however well meaning, that have some
    limited theoretical knowledge of the subject, but
    never use it themselves.

    2. Students who are forced, BY LAW, to listen to those
    lessons. Frequently against their will and better judgement.

    So I would say that you are starting with such a strong
    foundation, it would be hard to mess it up. :->

    I’m sure other readers will give you more practical


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