In a full-time program, the instructor can start at the beginning with design instruction and the classic project to flatten and dimension a board four-square using only hand tools. In a part-time program, where you only have students for a few hours at a time and their interest and passion for woodworking ranges widely, you need to get them working on something tangible as soon as possible. Many of these students are here just to try something new or as a way to get out of the house. They have no intention of doing woodworking as a career. In fact, they have perfectly good careers as doctors, lawyers or CEOs of major companies. They did not just pay $400 to "flatten a board." Most of them would look at the board and say it was just fine the way it was or maybe they would wonder why you didn't just buy it that way?

Disclaimer: Almost any DIY project involves risk of some sort. Your tools, materials, and skills will vary, as will the conditions at your project site. Rogue Engineer has made every effort to be complete and accurate in the instructions provided on this website. Rogue Engineer will not assume any responsibility or liability for damages or losses sustained or incurred in the course of your project or in the use of the item you create. Always follow the manufacturer's operating instructions in the use of tools, check and follow your local building codes, and observe all commonly accepted safety precautions.
At the same time, in order to improve your skills, you have to first use those skills and will make mistakes as a novice. How quickly those are overcome and improved on varies from person to person. Some craftsmen grasp a skill quickly and progress to higher levels, others, for several reasons, take more time. Those that do this quickly thrive as self-taught artisans.
Now, I know this list only contains traditional hand tools, but my circumstances led me to this choice to complete the job. After all, he is my brother and he’s helped me once or twice. Not all woodworkers will want to take the time and effort to go strictly with hand tools. That’s fine; different circumstances and preferences will lead the way. Most people wouldn’t drive a scooter full of tools to assist their siblings either. Sounds crazy, but I enjoyed the trip through the mountains. Once I was there, I still needed a way to rip through lumber. I also needed a can of finish. As needed, a few jigs and templates were constructed from the purchased lumber.
Lots of ways. Woodworking really reinforces my independent nature. Blogs are good. Norm Abrams videos. I have a library of magazines and books with really neat projects which I love to read over and over to get a sense of how other woodworkers think through their creative projects. I have a painter friend with whom I endlessly brainstorm how to finish the final wood project. But really, the wood itself teaches me the most. Each species has different needs. The projects also teach me. Each project is unique in approach, design, and method. I’ve learned to listen and make myself a servant of these things. I come to the shop ready to learn.
The Lead Instructor for the course is Aled Lewis. You can see Fine Woodworking's video about Aled here. For each project, Aled is joined by a co-teacher who specializes in the relevant skills. The following list is subject to change. Most of the instructors have websites which you can visit for more extensive views of their work. See the list of instructors here.

There is a seemingly endless selection of power tools. Variations of tools that were only seen in large cabinet shops and furniture factories can now be found at the local big box hardware stores. Prices are lower today than they have ever been in terms of real dollars. Quality can vary and old brand names don't always mean what they used to. So where do you start?

Woodworkers use geometry, arithmetic, algebra, calculus, and statistics to measure materials and during the planning stages of projects.  On any given job, they will calculate sizes, dimensions, distances, and quantities of materials.  Computer skills and knowledge of relevant software also benefits woodworkers with job-estimating, project management, and basic spreadsheet or word processing.  Woodworkers should be detail-oriented, have good people skills, have steady hands, and physical strength, especially when lifting 100-pound sheets of plywood.
Since this project contains two different finishes it is best to do the finishing before going any farther in the assembly process. We wanted to match the Pottery Barn finish as closely as possible so we went with the charcoal Chalked ultra matte paint from Rust-Oleum. I love the thick textured look of this paint. To brighten it up a bit and give it a cool look we decided to wax it with a Johnson Paste wax and a lot of elbow grease.
As for schooling, many local school districts, community colleges and woodworking stores offer woodworking classes, but those are a mixed bag. A handful is really good and many are terrible. There’s also a big difference between woodworking for fun and doing it for a living, and most classes are geared towards hobbyists. Out of all the proper woodworking schools with good reputations, I’ve only had personal experience with Marc Adams School of Woodworking. That place I recommend 100%, as the instructors are generally active professionals in their specialized niches, so one can always pick their brains for extra information related to earning a living. The director of the school also does a good job of screening instructors to eliminate the ones that don’t interact well in a classroom setting.
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