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I’m fairly comfortable in front of a classroom. For 12 years, I’ve taught part-time at the University of Cincinnati , most recently a 200-level class on Shakespeare’s plays. Along with discussions on the early modern acting profession and dramatic tropes, I sprinkled in some woodworking (joint stools make an appearance in several of Shakespeare’s plays, about which I’ve written here before). So, as I prepare to teach my first woodworking class (May 8-9 at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking), I’m sure I’ll manage to work some Shakespeare into my spiel.

The class is called “Woodworking for Women” , a title that causes me some niggling discomfort. I’ve not found gender differences that affect how women and men approach the craft. Heck , I’m the smallest person in our shop, yet I build the largest projects. And I like tools as much as any guy; on my street, I’m the person to see if you want to borrow a 12″ sliding compound miter saw, need a few rips on a table saw, or want a recommendation on a jigsaw blade. I even have two sets of basic hand tools , one for loaning and one for not.

That said, I suspect it’s less intimidating for women to learn from a woman a craft that’s traditionally a man’s pursuit , especially when learning the basics. Too much testosterone in one room can be scary (insert joke or salacious comment here). So, my goal in this weekend class is to introduce beginning woman woodworkers to a good-looking project that can be built using a minimum of tools. Participants will make a small country-style chest as they learn to:

– Read a measured drawing and use a cut list
– Lay out cuts on lumber for the best finished appearance
– Construct solid (and good-looking) panels using butt joints and battens
– Cut like a pro with a jigsaw
– Use a miter box and/or powered miter saw
– Install hardware
– Achieve an excellent aged finish with home-center projects.

So guys, if you’re looking to introduce your significant others to woodworking (and hey , if you can get her hooked, it doubles your chance to buy new tools), recommend this class. And you can sign up too…you’ll just have to wear steel-toed high heels, come in drag and leave any male posturing at the door. Women, you can wear your jeans and work boots, and bring an attitude.

– Megan Fitzpatrick

p.s. If this first class is a success (and I sure hope it is), I plan to propose a (non-gendered) class for next summer on making a 17th-century-style joint stool; perhaps I can teach it in blank verse.

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Showing 4 comments
  • Aluminum Extrusions


    Sounds like an incredible class!!! I wish I lived closer, it would be something my wife would love to attend. It sounds like you are going to cover some great basics and work toward leaving them with something nice to take with them… Any hopes of taking your show on the road?

  • Bobby Evans

    Hooray Megan,
    In my seven years as a fine arts tech in a university setting the two best work study students in the woodshop were women. They were careful, quick to learn and fell in love with power tools. They were also excellent mentors to other female students who were hesitant to try to learn how to use power tools due to some bad experiences; male chauvinist oinkery usually. I was the only one to wind up in the ER, none of my students.

    Oh we love Shakespeare out of doors, especially Cedar City Utah.
    Bobby Evans

  • kerry doyle

    It just might be worth trotting out the high heels for this class. Does an apron and a girl’s name enhance the qualifying?

  • Mike

    Congratulations, Megan.

    I know you will do well.


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