Monday, November 28, 2011

A Trip to Portland

This weekend I took part in a class at the Northwest Woodworking Studio in Portland, Oregon. The title was Hand Planes, Spokeshaves, and Scrapers, and that is a fairly accurate description of the content.

I'd been looking forward to this workshop for several weeks since becoming aware of it. In the end, I am glad I attended but have lots of mixed feelings about it. It is difficult to seperate out what was just not right for me, as an individual, from what was actually ill-conceived about it. I do not wish to really go into it publicly, since perhaps it was just not the right course for me.  I do believe the description was misleading, and have addressed this with the school.

In the meantime, I wouldn't hesitate to go back if a course were appealing.  There is a class on building a brass hand plane I would love to take.  I would offer caution, though, to anyone thinking that this hand plane course has the information needed to get going in traditional hand tool work.

Perhaps I will follow up on this soon (if/when I hear back from the school on my concerns) but in the meantime, I do encourage taking classes whenever and wherever possible, and sharing the experiences with other woodworkers, good or bad as they might be.


  1. Thanks for the post on this - I can't help but commiserate with my less-than-satisfied experiences here as well.

    But instead of making any further complaints, I will give a huge thumbs up and recommendation for the Port Townsend School of Woodworking. I took the Handtool Heaven class with Jim Tolpin (whose book you showed on an earlier post I believe) - it was a wonderful experience! Port Townsend is certainly more of a drive (and I live in Portland) but is a viable alternative in terms of woodworking schooling for those habituating in the NW. I'm definitely eyeing the Hand Tool Heaven II class being offered next year.

    Keep up the blogging...

  2. iozl, I would love to get up to Port Townsend on of these days. As it is, Portland is 3 hours for me, and PT is 5 or 6. I love Jim's books, and his hand-tool preference is in line with my own. Like him, I would like to use a bandsaw and planer when needed, but love using hand tools whenever practical. Thanks for reading.

  3. Sadly, the school has not replied to my concerns. I still won't go into the detail of what I did not enjoy about the course, but I would offer a bit of a warning to hand-tool focused folks considering a class here. Their lack of response to my feedback leaves me feeling even worse than I did before sending it. Even a brief "we received it, and you are wrong" would earn some respect from me.


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