Few know what goes into the months of planning for a class of this nature, and as it begins to take shape, I ask: Can it be actually be done? Will there be enough time? How hard should I push? The material and cut list fluctuate depending upon how many students are there, which impacts what I need to ship, what special tools or supplies will I need at the school. What are the contingency plans in case one of the student projects goes poorly, oh, finish the blueprints, make them readable and run off full size copies…and then on to logistics?
Student introduction and class prep list are done and sent off, the actual curved cabinet project I did as a prototype is finished, photographed and pics emailed to the schools website, and I follow up a blog on my website. Airline tickets are purchased, teaching crates with return labels are sent ahead, various student requests for tools are thrown in at the last minute, Proofread EVERYTHING. And… all of this? All for a class at the South West School of Fine Woodwork? What am I thinking? Is this really worth all the hassle?
I arrive into PHX from SBA to see Raul’s smiling face, ready to whisk me away to the school, to prepare for the upcoming week. The school is located in an industrial area of Phoenix, close to the airport, dusty razor wire over a chain link fence, with a tin shed roof for a cover. It is a ghostly Luthiers hangout, an seemingly unlikely place for a woodworking school. Behind the woodpile, and scattered guitar making gear, an occasional Luthier can be spotted carrying something on some mission or another. I enter the SWCFC classroom and immediately noticing the nice work benches, the second new Sawstop, better lighting than last time, a better machine layout, a kick ass swamp cooler that keeps us from suffering too much, and well kept hand tools adorn the new inner wall since the last time I was here. I suspect these all belong to Raul, the consummate craftsman. My crates are here and happily intact (believe me, I have seen Fed Ex and UPS do some nasty things to my boxes ! ) All the preparations are done and material sized and ready to be used. New vacuum bags in the next room, shiny hand planes near a dusty pile of veneer. A little more cleaning, and the benches will be ready to be occupied in the morning.
The class went well, although most did not complete their project of building a curved door cabinet with veneer. As you can see, many incorporated marquetry into their designs, which extended the time needed to complete it in the six days we had, but everyone got close enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel, with enough momentum for the cabinet to be completed back at their own workshop. All in all, it was successful, and everyone had a great time. I enjoy these classes, to see the lights come on when people ‘get it’ and having the opportunity to share some of the knowledge I have gathered over a lifetime as a woodworker. Great class!