Developing a hand plane class
#11
  Re: (...)
In the past I've done a really simple introductory class on hand planes, but now it's time to step it up a notch. There are some opportunities in the community to make instruction into a part time job, and I am looking at putting together more that a 1 hr intro. I am one semester of student teaching away from being a licensed high school teacher so I have to know-how when it comes to conducting an effective class. I am also smart enough to know that, in the age of the internet, there is usually someone out there who has already done it, and is happy to share what worked and didn't work.

I'm still in the research phase and am blindly gathering as much information as possible to be sorted through, once I feel like the search is exhausted. So, let me have it. No suggestion is a bad one. Have you given or taken a class? What worked and what stunk?
How do you know you're learning anything if you don't screw up once in awhile?

My blog: http://birdsandboards.blogspot.com/
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#12
  Re: Developing a hand plane class by mr_skittle (In the past I've don...)
There is absolutely no substitute for hands-on experience. And that's where your class can beat the internet hands-down.

I think that if you handed each student a rough-sawn board and took them through the steps of dimensioning it, the lights would go on for a lot of people. Jack, jointer, smoother, plane a face flat, plane an edge square, plane the other face flat, plane the final edge square.

Of course you'd work in instruction on sharpening (though I'd just start them on sharp planes) and setting up chipbreakers, and you'd do related stuff like reading the grain of a rough-sawn board, using a marking gauge, and using squares and winding sticks. You could teach a few people to use handplanes in a solid afternoon.

The difficulty, of course, is equipment and workspace. You'd need a bench or two, and you'd need user planes. A few people would bring their own, but most would need two or three planes to use during the class.

When I taught a spoon-making course last summer, this was our problem: we had a few more people wanting to make spoons than we had tools available, so there was a lot of sharing around of tools. Although, you know, now I think of it, sharing tools wasn't so much of a drawback. It gave a lot of people opportunities to pause their work and watch others, and it made for good community-building conversations during the class. So yeah, being short a few tools wasn't a deal-breaker and was even kind of a benefit in the long run.
Steve S.
------------------------------------------------------
Tradition cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour.
- T. S. Eliot

Tutorials and Build-Alongs at The Literary Workshop
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#13
  Re: Developing a hand plane class by mr_skittle (In the past I've don...)
Start with the dreaded how to sharpen class. Dull blade = disillusioned student = failure.

IMHO
"We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm"
                                                                                                                        Winston Churchill
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#14
  Re: Developing a hand plane class by mr_skittle (In the past I've don...)
Wish you were doing this closer to me. I NEED some "hands on" instruction. I've got the sharpening down. Even though I use my planes, I have little confidence in my ability.

I took a class at a big name woodworking store, but the instructor enjoyed his own voice more than being helpful.
"I tried being reasonable..........I didn't like it." Clint Eastwood
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#15
  Re: Developing a hand plane class by mr_skittle (In the past I've don...)
By far the biggest obstacle to teaching woodworking classes is finding a place to conduct them. This has stymied me for years. Schools that still have shops won't let you use them for various legal reasons. The best situation I had was a retirement community that had a nice shop, but they later turned the shop into an employee lunch room! I was successful in holding small classes where 3-4 people could share a bench. An alternative is having students each bring a Workmate porta-bench (preferably the older, heavier ones).
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#16
  Re: Developing a hand plane class by mr_skittle (In the past I've don...)
Have you sorted out the high level matters already?
- Your target students and level of skills (beginners vs intermediate users)
- How or where do you get your students?
- Your competitors (any nearby teachers/schools and classes being offered)
- Liability issues
- Revenue vs expenses (not a factor if you teach for fun or experience)
- Etc.

I wouldn't worry about the content, tools & supplies, etc. till all those issues are identified and considered.

Simon
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#17
  Re: Re: Developing a hand plane class by Handplanesandmore (Have you sorted out ...)
Taking a rough board to S4S was basically what I was doing in my intro class. But only as a demo and not hands-on. So I obviously agree on that idea, however I also want to give students information and skills that is useful in their everyday woodworking. The issues that will need to be resolved is how long to make the class and the 'next step' class will I come up with. I'm not sure how to get around having the first class be heavy on the technical information.

workspace and tools
I am lucky to have a local community workshop with a large woodshop. It is where I've already done some teaching. Workbenches and tools are yet to be ironed out. There is a large, square bench from a local HS woodshop that has 4 vices but no dog holes. That could be easily enough remided. Also, it wouldn't be terribly difficult to build a couple of benches, as long as the workshop is willing to buy some vice hardware. For tools, I do have plenty of smoothers and jacks but only one jointer. I bought up a bunch when I started doing the intro class thinking I would inspire folks to pick up the craft and buy them from me. The problem is that most of them need a mild rehab and serious sharpening.

sharpening
I am well aware of the importance of sharpening. Here are my couple of concerns. First, when do I want to dive in? It is of course a necessary evil of planes but I'm afraid it can discourage some folks if introduced too early. Once again it depends on the length of the class. It may be a topic to reserve for the second class in a progression. The second concern is that I only know one method of sharpening, the cheap and reliable, scary sharp method, with sandpaper and a Veritas MK-II jig. This may give me the excuse to get a Tormek or similar machine but that not in the cards as of now.

other issues
In response to Simon's points, I will be working as a contracted instructor through other organizations so issues like recruitment, liability, and revenue/expenses will not be my full responsibility. I am very resourceful and can handle specific issues like these as they arise. Now if I were starting from scratch as an independent instructor, it would be a different story.

In response to Bill H's point, I am willing to bet that most of the instructors at places like Rockler or Woodcraft (which I'm assume are the types of places you are referring to) have little to no teacher training. They are just content experts, like college professors. They have a great deal of knowledge but are not being held accountable for effectively communicating that knowledge. My Teacher's education is very fresh and I am a huge advocate for student-centered teaching methods. Class sizes will be small and everyone gets personal attention. Even before a single shaving is made, the registration and recruitment process will elicit comments on what a person is interested in learning. For instance (off the top of my head and totally hypothetical), if there is a group of people who want to use hand planes but would rather pay someone to sharpen blades, well then I wouldn't spend time on sharpening skills.
How do you know you're learning anything if you don't screw up once in awhile?

My blog: http://birdsandboards.blogspot.com/
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#18
  Re: Re: Developing a hand plane class by mr_skittle (Taking a rough board...)
Regarding sharpening, my perspective as a beginner, is that sharpening should be addressed early on. Anyone interested in using hand planes is going to need to know how to do that. In your case, the scary sharp method is probably appropriate, because it's cheap and readily doable by just about anyone. It should be followed up by at least an overview of the other methods, as time permits. As for your concern that some people would prefer to let others sharpen their blades, I think that seems unlikely. Seems to me that anyone using handplanes would find it very inconvenient to send blades out for sharpening, when most of the advice I've read recommends that folks touch up their blades on a regular basis, during the work. I think there's a lot of ground that needs covered here. The level of detail can be customized as you gauge the level of interest of your students, but I think sharpening should be a critical component of any class on using handplanes.

Oh and good luck! I hope you keep us updated on your progress. I'm very interested to hear how the class turns out.

If you are going down a river at 2 mph and your canoe loses a wheel, how much pancake mix would you need to shingle your roof?

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#19
  Re: Re: Developing a hand plane class by mr_skittle (Taking a rough board...)
I'm going to go against the grain here and say that you should teach sharpening later, even as a separate class.

If you put a sharp handplane in the hands of a beginner, he or she is going to be making beautiful shavings in short order. Let the students get the feel of a well-tuned plane so they know how it works. They will feel empowered and successful, and they'll want to try it out in their own shops. Then, before you let them go, take them to the sharpening class and show them HOW and WHY a handplane works.

Starting with sharpening is like starting Driver's Ed with a broken-down car that you have to fix before you can learn to drive it. Sure, it could be educational, but isn't it better to start with a car that runs well, teach someone basic driving skills with it, and then teach them repair skills later on? Start with a sharp iron, let them wear it down a bit, and then teach them to resharpen it.
Steve S.
------------------------------------------------------
Tradition cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour.
- T. S. Eliot

Tutorials and Build-Alongs at The Literary Workshop
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#20
  Re: Re: Developing a hand plane class by Bibliophile 13 (I'm going to go agai...)
Good input on sharpening. As I said, I'm fully aware of how important it is, but having a student making shavings with a well tuned plane in their hand should come first. Getting them engaged with the tools first will help insure they maintain interest through the lesson on sharpening. Steve S. had a good analogy about drivers ed.

The question I'll need to address is how long to make the class. I imagine a hands-on lesson on sharpening will take a solid couple hours, right? The intro on through planing a board S4S will be another couple hours at least if there is to be meaningful hands-on work. That's easily a half day class, if not more. For those of you who've done this kind of class, does that sound like the time frame? Part of the decision will be based on what the organization I'm doing this for wants and what prospective students are looking for. I'll have to do a little market research I guess.

Bill W- I really wouldn't expect anyone to "send out" for sharpening either. It was just a hypothetical situation off the top of my head used to show how the content will be specific to what students are looking for.
How do you know you're learning anything if you don't screw up once in awhile?

My blog: http://birdsandboards.blogspot.com/
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