Thursday, September 27, 2012

hand vs. power...

I got a request to help visualize a new high school wood shop as follows:
This is a new program so not a large public high school. I think being able to accommodate 20 students is good, they will normally not be in there at the same time. The model for the school is for kids to be working in groups of about 5.

Tell me more about setting up a shop which is just hand tools verses having power tools as well. My gut says power as well.

I will not have a teacher for a while still, just trying to get a sense of costs. Also trying to understand insurance for this type of studio.
Perhaps my response would be useful to others, or if you have ideas you can participate in the comments below. For your school, a shop like mine would probably suffice. Two rooms, each about 600 square feet, one for machine work and one for workbenches, lathes and hand tools.

I can't tell you much about the insurance except that our small school can afford it. One of the deceitful rationales they've used for years to get rid of wood shops is the cost of insurance. It should not be the deal-breaker.

Whether your primary focus is hand tools or power, power tools can be useful for materials prep. But a skilled traditional joiner like Peter Follansbee could build a program on hand tools alone. These days, programs need someone who has a sense of the vision of where the program is to go... someone with more than an academic interest. You might want to look for that person sooner rather than later.

Having an academic understanding of the value of woodworking education is not enough to bring a program on-line. There are advantages to working with hand tools, as they do more to invite deeper investigation and understanding of materials, methods and even the functioning of the body.

Power tools are distracting due to the noise and dust, are less convivial in their use, less inviting of conversation and camaraderie. Hope this helps.

Today I pick up materials for a large corporate gift order for boxes made from native hardwoods, and will also take the students of CSS through a mini course in knife safety as preparation for camping next week.

make, fix and create...

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