Raphael Berrios is one of our Foundations of Woodworking scholarship students in Spring 2016. He also took our Timber Frame Tiny Home course and brought home one of the structures to finish for himself (you can follow his progress on his blog! Here’s what he had to say about what led him to PTSW, his experience so far, and thoughts for the future:
I live in VA and my workshop is an unheated, uninsulated garage. I work out there year round, even when temps are below freezing. I can't say it's comfortable in the winter (or when it's 100 degrees with 95% humidity) but I haven't had any major issues. I have had some big box green wood warp on me after I built a couple bookshelves and brought them into the house, but that was more a factor of the green wood than my "shop".
I live in the second rainiest city in the country, Pensacola, so I am used to dealing with wet. I literally work out of my garage (read storage area, small woodwork area, washer/dryer...car? ). I wheel bigger tools and table out to the little covered area in front of the garage. I have an 8 x 10 aluminum shed that is strictly garden stuff storage. I mention this for two reasons.
The Classic Workbench is constructed entirely with in-compression-for-eternity drawbored mortise and tenons. It's as solid as humans can make it, short of growing a tree in the shape of a bench. The bench arrives at your shop completely assembled and ready to use. It doesn't knock down. The bench is built to the highest standards of traditional German craftsmanship in the utopian village of Amana Iowa. Our collaboration with the craftsmen in Amana, along with our experience in traditional workholding has yielded a workbench that is truly heirloom quality, but offered at what we think is a very reasonable price. We consider our flagship Split-Top Roubo as nearing the pinnacle of bench design (if there is such a thing) but we wanted to offer an essential bench built to high standards--an approachable but bulletproof tool for passionate enthusiasts of all levels, but especially intended for those just getting into the craft. Our principal bench maker has been steeped in the craft at the Amana Furniture Shop for nearly 50 years. Needless to say, a century and a half of woodworking tradition in Amana directly back to 19th century Germany speaks for itself. Many of the Amana craftsmen are multi-generational woodworkers.
For most of the course, we'll be heavily focused on developing your skills using hand tools. As a developing woodworker, there is no substitute for putting in the hours of direct hands on practice it takes to gain an intuitive understanding of wood. The early part of this course focuses on working with hand tools as we believe they bring you closer to wood as a material. You can rip a board on a table saw with out much thought to the wood itself, but you will understand much more about grain if you rip a board with a hand saw. As the course progresses, machine processes are introduced as a pragmatic aid in expediting projects.
Whether you’re setting up a new shop or upgrading your old one, a good, sturdy workbench will almost surely be central to your plans. We can help. Our editors and contributors have produced more than two dozen articles and videos about benches and assembly tables. We’ve included everything from a simple but workable plywood bench to a classic hardwood bench complete with vises. You’ll also find full project plans, as well as tips for installing vises, making your bench portable, adding storage, and more. Some of our workbench plans are free, and the rest can be purchased in our store (check the links below).
The first time you try your hand at the ancient craft of woodworking, you want to do it right. Learn woodworking basics with hand tools to a professional standard on a weekend woodworking course at Rowden Atelier. Ed Wild runs weekend furniture building courses for everyone from beginners who want to have some fun experimenting behind the bench, to those who are looking to develop specific skills as a furniture maker. Classes include tool handling, box making, and basic veneering, but to a certain degree, you can tell us what you want to learn - these short woodworking courses are partly bespoke.
My wife has given me the OK to buy a "Rancher"-style shed from Lowes and have it installed in the backyard. The discounted installed price will be about $2,600 and this includes the 12' x 8' structure along with a lot of upgrades (twin metal doors, a window, 2 skylights, storage, vents, etc.). I can save about $300 if I build it myself, but my skill level isn't there yet, so I'm going to pay Lowes to assemble it. (See Post #12 below for some photos of the shed and the space I have to work with.)