The description below is an outline for how the course will proceed. We intentionally maintain a level of flexibility in our curriculum to adapt and respond to the needs of each group of students depending on aptitude. Each project has a basic standard of completion as well as design opportunities for elaboration and exploration of more advanced techniques. Our instructors will guide you through projects as is best suited for your ability level.
If you decide upon construction lumber, you want kiln dry lumber. Green lumber will warp on you as it drys. Dig through the stacks and pick out the straightest, cleanest pieces. Generally, the boards that are sitting loose on the stack are those that other people left behind, as they sorted through looking for better. Be prepared to move them out of the way, and to dig down to the better stock. Be nice, though, and put everything back when you're done.
After I left the magazine for a new job, I did all of my woodworking in my small two-car garage, but it was a struggle. Power, lighting, and temperature control were limited. And because I shared space with our cars I was always moving machines around, often while in the middle of a project. On top of that, my tool and machine collection had long since eclipsed the space. For all these reasons, fixing up the garage wasn’t an option. My finished basement is a family room, so it was out, too. An addition to the home or a stand-alone building would have been too expensive. I had to find a better path to a shop.
Evidence of a removed fireplace makes it clear that the woodworkers were doing tasks that required warmth, like using glue. The type of glue used during that time had to be heated to a certain temperature. Bill Flynt, a former colleague of Garrison, tested the wood of the shop and found that it is second- or third-generation wood, meaning that New Englanders had already cut down and replanted lots of trees by that time.
Synopsis: No room in the garage? Basement not an option? Consider what Ken St. Onge did when he needed shop space: He bought a prefabricated shed and converted it into his full-time woodshop. Because a pre-built shed doesn’t need a cement foundation and is built in a factory, it’s much less expensive than building an addition or stand-alone shop on your property. It can have taller ceilings than a garage and bigger doors than a basement, both big pluses for a woodworker. You can put a shed just about anywhere, too. Here’s a soup to nuts look at Ken’s experience, so you can gauge whether a shop in a shed is right for you.