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The Unplugged Woodshop: Welcome!


For the past 15 years, I've been teaching a course on hand tools that I call The Unplugged Woodshop. It's a blast.

I was first introduced to hand tools in the shop I apprenticed in, back in the '70s. It was run by a crusty old Swede, who insisted that every board that came out of the jointer or planer be planed by hand.

But only two strokes-that was enough. For him, hand tools weren't a romance with the past-they were a practical way to get work done, better and faster. God bless him.

My apprenticeship turned out to be a difficult way to learn the craft. It wasn't systematic at all-but it was typical of a traditional  apprenticeships in a working shop. I wanted thic class to be something different. I wrote the curriculum myself, from scratch, in a way that one skill builds on another.

I've designed the course for people of all skill levels. If you've never used a plane before, fine. If you've tried one out and can't get it to work, better yet. If you're doing OK with a plane, but want to know the fine points, bear with me, we'll get there.

The class lasts ten weeks, and each session is three hours long. We start at the beginning, sharpening a chisel, and go on through planes, spokeshaves and scrapers. As for techniques, we cover mortising a hinge, making mortise and tenon joints, making a cabriole leg, and through dovetails.

I teach the class at the local Woodcraft store, in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. For the past three years, and this year as well, I also teach the course at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship, in Rockport, Maine, in late September, 2009. Here, the class is compressed into five straight days of intense instruction. But we have a lot of fun, too.

Here's one of the buildings on the Center's campus. It's a beautiful setting.

The center is located just outside of the port town of Camden. Here's an early evening shot of the harbor, taken from a dockside restaurant.

Here's a student learning how to cut half-blind dovetails.

In this blog, I'll be posting bits and pieces of instruction from the class. See you there!

If you have any comments or questions to add to this blog, please scroll all the way down to the bottom of this page, below the ads.

All the best,

Tom Caspar


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