dcustoms

Starting to teach Woodworking classes...

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Hello woodworking educators and woodworkers alike. I have been kicking around the idea of starting to teach woodworking classes. I have some experience teaching wood shop in a high school and education and training in the fire service. I am currently a pro woodworker and think it would be fun to help others learn woodworking.

I am just wondering what you all think and what thoughts come to mind...

I have a well equipped shop, lots of insurance and a liability waver drafted by my attorney for both adult and minor students.

My plan is to teach one on one classes that are student directed, project or skill driven.

Thank you for your thoughts!

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A little different topic of teaching but, I was a trainer in the military and also taught First responder, combat lifesaving and CPR, Interspiro SCBA maintenance and service both in and out of the military and it is sort of emotionally fulfilling and really enjoyed it. You seem to have similar experience teaching in those areas. I don't know where it was said but, If you are passionate about it, confident and competent in your skills and willing to have patience, you will be an excellent teacher.

There is a difference teaching eager and willing students rather than teaching to those who "have to be there for the class" is huge! Those that want to learn are "sponges" and will soak up all you can give them. I think this is why woodworking classes in general have such great feedback, they are there to learn and actually get quite an experience and learn a lot in a short time and feel like money and time well spent.

On the other hand, if one is faking it, or barely knows what he/she is doing, it will not last long and is easily weeded out.

I say go for it! Invite a few (2-3) people to do a "working out the bugs" classes and drill them for feedback both good and bad and see where that takes you. Solid outline, keep on task, skip the BS and nonessential fluff, and I think, my friend, you will quite enjoy the experience.

Price point is always a tough one though. Maybe see what's out there similar in scope and length, experience level, difficulty of project etc.. and ballpark it for now and refine it as you see fit. See how the demand and interest goes maybe tailoring your class to fit you "life" schedule so as not to burn out.

Good luck!

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dustin i for one would be glad to pay for a class depending on what your teaching. sometime lets set down you can run a class for me and ill help you cut the fat the figure out best way to do it. then i can swap some lessons and projects that i have found very helpfull in my class. and if you want help teaching i love teaching so you can sighn me up to help out. dont know what i can bring as i dont realy feel i have a strong exp to teaching furniture making mostly what i have riged up and figure out through trial and error on the smaller stuff.

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The question brings to mind more questions that only you can answer. Chief among them, "Why do you want to do this?"

Is this to be a money-making adjunct to your already successful business? Marc Adams, William Ng, Sir Roy, etc...seem to be doing a brisk trade, but you'd have to ask them how the numbers run month to month, year to year. Moreover, I get the sense that theirs is a business dominated by guests. i.e. You can go to Marc Adams's school to take a class with Marc Adams; but he also has a full calendar of guest clinicians. (FWIW, the same thing has happened to symphony conductors. Some orchestras have gone for an entire season with one guest conductor after another.)

Is it the desire to "make a difference", to change how people look at furniture? And, thereby, perhaps lure people back from Ikea's siren song and into the world of fine furniture. That's a tougher, cultural change but certainly a noble goal.

Is it that you enjoy being part of other people learning new things? While there's nothing wrong with this, it can be seductive and potentially crippling to your own growth. Surrounding oneself with the ecstatic grins of a first-time dovetail is fun, but it won't do anything to push you outside your own comfort zone. Personal stagnation is always a danger for academics.

Let's first hear a clear picture of what's motivating you. Then we'll see how that could mesh with the motivations that might bring people in your door. For that matter, maybe it'll point you in a new and better direction.

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Well spoken Rob! I am probably column a and b. I also look at it as a nice change of pace from the grind of doing customer work all day. Also there isn't to much around me in the way of woodworking classes. The local High school even cut their program. I want to feel it out and see how it goes...

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Well spoken Rob! I am probably column a and b. I also look at it as a nice change of pace from the grind of doing customer work all day. Also there isn't to much around me in the way of woodworking classes. The local High school even cut their program. I want to feel it out and see how it goes...

Perhaps the local high school would be a place to start. You could offer them a way to outsource part of their curriculum to you. Doubtless the initial paperwork (in ILLINOIS, no less) would be off the charts. But even with that, I'd bet that you could easily run provide wood shop instruction to students for less than what it was costing the school district to keep a wood shop on site. Set it up right, and you'd have a steady business that brings in a few pennies for yourself and gives you the satisfaction of making a difference.

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Sorry I picked up this thread late. I've been kicking around starting a WW school in San Diego. (Would employ mostly guest instructors....) I think there is a growing market for woodworking in general. There is a aging population trend as you know and not that WWing is for older folks but it generally draws in older folks who have the time and money to spend on the activity. Those same people when younger were consumed with their career job and family so no real time to devote to the craft. I entertained a Woodcraft franchise here and I agreed with their assessment that the market is active and growing.

Good luck with your effort.

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Observations from a successful local school... It's been in business for ~ 20 years.

- The week-long or multi-evening classes seem to be very project dependent. Certain projects pack the place, others, not so much.

- Non-project based, ranging from a single 3 hour evening, to Sat / Sun 9:30-5 weekend classes seem to fill up most often. Examples include a single evening of sharpening that covers one method, sharpening a single chisel plus a single plane iron, to a Saturday featuring router or hand plane techniques, or building a single cabinet door, to two days of table saw jigs.

- The most popular week-long project based classes seem to be with well-known, traveling teachers who are usually authors. Many of the projects have appeared in books or magazine articles.

- There is are standardized Woodworking I, II, and III classes offered once or twice a year, always with the same project. The three projects are specifically chosen to teach basic technique and build on each other. He usually offers these as a 6-8 evening format, but sometimes as a 5 day week summer format. There is also a limited enrollment 8 week, 5 day a week, intensive, taught by a well known, career instructor.

It's made clear that many of the advanced classes will not finish the project in class, and that homework is required.

No open shop time is made available. When machines are running, even in the advanced classes, there is usually a school employee monitoring each operating machine, especially table and band saws. All table saws are SawStop Industrial Cabinet saws.

The owner started the school doing basic evening classes in a classroom built inside a millwork / large cabinet shop where he worked, eventually growing to a dual-shop, very busy school, co-located with a Woodcraft store. I didn't know about him when he was in the first location. Over the last 15 years, I've seen both the school facility and instruction level continually improve. The week-long summer classes often include more folks from out of the immediate area who are staying in hotels than locals.

We're in an area with a good number of training opportunities available, lots of historical perspective and many museums, and a strong SAPFM presence. Because of this, I think there's a mindset that appreciates the value of spending money to learn useful craft techniques, and strong word of mouth advertising. He's got a very high repeat student rate. It's rare for me to take a class and not have taken a previous class with at least one other student.

If you've got nothing else around you, you might have to put extra effort into getting folks to understand how your training can be of value to them, or you might hit the mother lode of an unmet need... Good luck!

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That is great that you want to do that. I am a teacher as well, although I never taught woodworking to anyone, mostly math and English. I am new to these forums and have only now saw this thread, and seeing as you posted it last year, maybe you could update on how things went with the whole thing. 

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That is great that you want to do that. I am a teacher as well, although I never taught woodworking to anyone, mostly math and English. I am new to these forums and have only now saw this thread, and seeing as you posted it last year, maybe you could update on how things went with the whole thing. 

Welcome to the forum! Sorry I haven't posted an update sooner I have been crazy busy with client work.  I started classes right after the first of the year.  I currently am getting my feet wet with 2 students a father and son on Saturday mornings.  The first class was a 4 hour introduction to the shop and shop tools and a safety class.  The following week we started into a project.  The classes are structured around the chosen project (by the student) and focused on building the skills needed to complete the project.  I feel like this format has been incredibly beneficial to the students.  The only draw back that it has on my end is time... I want to spend as much time as needed developing these skills and the students comfort with woodworking.  I initial estimate was 5 days at 3 hours a day.  So far we are on track for that but if an extra day is needed that's fine with me.  My focus is on teaching the skills is a safe and enjoyable manner.  The students have caught on quick!

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I infer that your are using your shop and tools for this class.   I've considered providing my shop and tools to some artistic high school students in my area but have always been concerned about the liability if one injures themselves.  If you care to disclose it I would like to know the cost of liability insurance you purchase to cover yourself.

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I infer that your are using your shop and tools for this class.   I've considered providing my shop and tools to some artistic high school students in my area but have always been concerned about the liability if one injures themselves.  If you care to disclose it I would like to know the cost of liability insurance you purchase to cover yourself.

I do use my shop and tools.  I have insurance for my company that covers the shop, it's content, then I have 1million in Liability that covers a wide array of things including my students.  As for the cost I pay right around $3200.00 per year to insure my shop my company and my work vehicles.  I am not sure what the liability policy costs on it's own.  I also have liability waivers created by my attorney and a Saw stop.  Hope this helps...

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Good planning.  Sadly, even if a student was to make a 'stupid' mistake, it's all too easy to sue since "it's the insurance company's money".  Hope you are well protected.

 

I think it's great that you are undertaking this effort.  Since this is your first time 'round, I'd suggest that you keep good notes on every class - parts or skills that were overly challenging, parts that went much more easily than you expected, parts which might have gone better if you had introduced some other "skill builder" earlier in the class, etc.  You could then review them and revamp your curriculum to be more efffective.  Also, do not underestimate the power of feedback from the students.  They can tell you what worked, didn't work, or could have gone better.

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Things have been busy with me for the last several months... as for an update.  I had 2 students that I taught project based classes in a one on one environment.  It went really well.  I learned a lot about what it takes to teach some one woodworking.  I was overly through with every aspect that was covered which caused time to quickly add up.  Like most things it took longer than I thought.  Due to my schedule I have not been able to take on any more students, but hope to start up after the first of the year. 

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Hello DCustoms.

I am an Industrial Designer specialized in furniture design and I am in the ww field since 2013.

I am a little late catching up your thread, and I got from you good information about teaching ww.

Do you have any other update or advise you can give me to start teaching ww classes?

Thank you!

 

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The OP hasn't been here since Jan of 2016, so you are unlikely to here from him.

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I've had similar thoughts and have been trying to figure out how to make it work for a while now. I do a little bit of teaching at the Rockler store where I work part time on the weekends -mostly make-and-take classes and product demos. I also live near, and have taken classes from George Vondriska. (George is the head of the Woodworkers Guild if America, and appears in many TiteBond ads in magazines). It seems to me that if you want a career in woodworking that you can live off of, you have to have multiple streams of income within the industry. So you cannot just simply make products and sell them, or you'll starve. It seems like you have to make products and sell them, teach classes, and figure out a couple of other revenue streams. So, the idea of opening a school and teaching is wonderful and I think that if you also sell access to your shop as a co-op, that would be a natural secondary function of the school that you opened. And that's kind of how I see it playing out, if I ever get to that point. But I've noticed that there are a few co-ops that have popped up in my area recently. (Twin cities, mn)  I think that's a really attractive offer to people that want to get into woodworking but get intimidated by the costs of equipment.  So instead of paying a ton of money up front to buy the necessary machines and hand tools, they just pay a small monthly fee and have access to the shop. Best of luck to you if you take the plunge and go for it!

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Good luck in teaching. Saw a sign in a gift shop- I'm a teacher. What's yout superpower? If you will be teaching kids, will you be required to have a background check? I have a close friend who wanted to teach a two or three hour class on archery at the Boys & Girls Club. He was surprised at all the background material that was required. My wife was in preschool education for over 30 years. That is SOP in any teaching position or anyone else working with kids.

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