In 2006 Jonathan Schwennesen had an opportunity to begin an informal apprenticeship at the age of 17. He spent 4 years working as an apprentice in the Heritage School of Woodworking, learning the fundamental skills needed to build custom and speculative pieces of furniture. Next he began working for Homestead Heritage Furniture building custom furniture for different clients, gaining additional experience and knowledge making Windsor chairs, federal-style cabinets, clocks, workbenches, sleigh beds and even a waterwheel! It was during this time that he began to show an interest in teaching. Jonathan became a teacher’s assistant in 2009. He quickly began gaining the knowledge and skill to teach some classes himself. Now he spends most of his time working for the woodworking school. “My desire is to teach others an important aspect of life: working with your hands.”
Isn’t now the time to spend some time with your son or daughter? Used to be that fathers spent time teaching their children how to do things. It built memories. It built self-confidence. It built life-long trust and respect. And it built skills that remain for the rest of their lives. Isn’t now the time for you to make some memories with your children?
The Classic Workbench is based largely on the famous Plate 11 workbench from Roubo’s “The Art of the Joinery”. We’ve built dozens of these “Roubo” benches over the past decade, helped others build hundreds more and examined extant French benches from the period. We haven’t changed our opinion on this fundamental design. French technical schools of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were outfitted with benches of the exact type. And prior to the 1950’s, you could easily buy a “Classic” workbench from any number of French supply houses. Benchcrafted continues the tradition by offering this excellent workbench, built in Iowa with American hardwoods to the highest standards.
My first shop was a 8 x 10 ft room, actually a bedroom, with 10 ft high ceilings in a older home in Chicago. I had a 10" Craftsman TS, drill press, 8 1/4" Skil saw which still works, some welding tanks, hand tools and... my bed was a loft across the 10 ft length 4 ft down from the ceiling with a ladder against the wall to get up. I was 16 yrs old then, now I am 66 yrs, have 2 shops with Craftsman power tools up stairs, and Grizzly tools ,a Powermatic 68, a MIG welder, and other tools on the ground floor. I've come a long way, You think? I remember making bases for sculptures called "plinths", my first commission, in the living room, 5 pieces rather large, several ft long and wide. The house was haunted, and my mom told the "spirit" to leave and go back downstairs. There was a cold draft and the straw chair would rustle with no one sitting in it. Wow, does that bring back memories from the '60's.
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Laney College is located in Oakland near the San Francisco Bay and currently enrolls around 12,000 students. The Wood Technology Department offers 1- and 2-year certificate programs in wood technology, computer-aided drafting and design, as well as an apprenticeship program and carpentry courses. Students have access to eight faculty members and a variety of woodworking machinery and equipment, including a lathe.
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.