This Saturday I taught my first woodworking class.
I’m just going to take a moment to dwell on that last sentence. It’s a big one for me. A sort of “Level Up” moment in my life. I’ve always been a guy who makes stuff, or fixes things, or takes things apart (sorry mom) and sometimes puts them back together. But being a “teacher” of woodworking is brain-stretcher for me.
This journey down the woodworking rabbit hole has been pretty interesting, and I look at people like Chris Schwarz and Peter Follansbee as teachers, guides, and generally cool people. (and sorry Chris, but I did model my teaching style on yours a little bit, I know that probably gives you a little heartburn but it fits well with my style.)
Saturday I did the first part of the class as it is a two parter, and we covered the basics while carving a single panel.
First we covered the gouge cut decoration along the top and bottom edge of a piece of oak. This showed how to hold the chisel, dividers, carving mallet. The repetition allowed them to build some muscle memory and get a feel for the motions and for the materials.
Then we did a simple repeated arc pattern in the center area. This showed them layout with dividers, and lots of practice with the V tool. As well as some design at the point of the tool for the floral decoration, and some punch work with the accents. One student finished, the other got at least the core design down. All in all it was successful for me as a teacher in that I got through what I wanted in somewhat the order I wanted to. I had gauged the right amount of work and discussion. They both felt more comfortable with the tools by the end, and their work was improving each step.
Things that I learned.
- Cover more about sharpening, and bring my sharpening equipment so I can fix a battered chisel.
- Get better wood than the Oak we used. It was case hardened, and had some wiggly grain which was a frustration.
- Make sure I have a anti-fatigue mat at my bench to ease my aching knees.
- The class itself was little too advanced for a first time class at this venue. I’m thinking of doing a simpler class on letter carving (which I already have one student signed up for if I do it.)
The students were very interesting. One lady brought her fathers tools, and a great story about how he used them and passed them to her. It was a beautiful set, I mean LOOK at these.
It was a great experience, and I’m glad I was able to help her connect with her past a little.
The other student was from Nepal and his home village there had a tradition of woodcarving. He wanted to learn some of it and he took my class to see if it was something that he could do. Both students seemed to enjoy the class, and I got a good compliment at the end saying I was a great teacher. I’m not great at taking praise, but I’m glad it went well for everyone.
In two weeks we’ll pick up where we left off (hopefully with better wood) and tackle some S Scroll carving.