Adirondack Chair Class

Article - June 14, 2012

I recently returned from my Adirondack Class at the William Ng School in Anaheim, CA and I thought it would be nice to share some pictures. I know many of you are new to woodworking and you might not know what to expect from a multi-day class. Of course, schools and instructors vary widely. But what you’ll see here is typical of a class at the William Ng school. Well, at least the ones that I teach and attend.

The students ranged in skill level from complete newb to solid intermediate. Two of the students were unfamiliar with basic milling operations and needed a little more guidance throughout the project. At the beginning of the class, I ask each student about their experience and comfort level so I know how much to assist/teach/intervene. So if you are completely new to the craft, you are always welcome in one of my classes! Learning while building a project is one of the most productive ways to advance your skills.

This project came from the Wood Whisperer Guild and I never taught it in this format. So I did my best to estimate how much we should get done each day. The problem with Greene & Greene furniture is that you need at least a full day just making and installing your ebony plugs. This really only leaves four days for the general construction of the chair! That’s a lot to accomplish in a teaching environment. Fortunately, this group was highly motivated: we started early and stayed late every day.

Only two of the students had a fully-assembled chair on the last day. The rest were very close to assembly and simply flat-packed their parts. Thankfully, most of these guys have a shop at home where they could finish their project in their own time.

Now here’s a little story that really goes to show how awesome woodworkers can be. The student pressing the hardest to reach the finish line happened to be the one with the least experience. In fact, the guy owns little to no tools and never did ANY woodworking prior to the class. So finishing the project at home just wasn’t an option. On the final day, several of the other students stopped working on their own projects and starting working on ebony plugs, assembly line style, just to make sure he would have a fully-assembled chair by the end of the day. That’s what I love about the woodworking community! These people are always willing to help one another, even if it means slowing themselves down. Does me proud just being a part of it.

When it was all said and done, I think these guys were happy with the class. William reminded me that the ultimate goal for these classes is NOT the completion of a project. Instead, the focus is on learning. If you happen to go home with a fully assembled project, that’s just icing on the cake. We aren’t there to assemble a kit. We are there to learn and practice. So that’s something to keep in mind when attending this type of class in the future. You may be heading out the door with homework.

I would like to thank this excellent group of guys for attending the class and making me a part of their woodworking journey. I had a blast and I hope to see some of you in future classes.


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