26 February 2016

Student Centered Education

I cannot understand why it remains so difficult for my employer to market my classes to potential students, who after attending, are regularly happy with having made something with their own hands and having improved their handtool skills. The failure to properly advertise these classes might be somehow connected to the fact that the inhouse marketers are always so busy that they've never observed what happens in the lessons that I designed according to their restrictions and expectations. There is a company website but it is only haphazardly updated. I've been working here since June of 2015 and they might get to updating the class schedule to include my classes as soon as they are less busy with their marketing plans for the American style of woodworking classes. This weblog is an attempt help explain my classes to any and all who are interested in the state of woodworking education in the PRC.
Trimming square a crosscut board

This student unexpectedly found herself learning alone for 3 consecutive classes, rearranged back into sequential order from 1,6, and 2. Class 1 covers the tools in the provided toolkit, distinguishing paring chisels from the singleton mortise chisel, setting up and adjusting a jack plane and block plane. Layout tools:marking knife, combination square, and marking gauge; and a crosscut saw are used to build the first project, a waterstone holder which is used to end out the first day with a concise lesson on sharpening that uses a newly imported Tormek T-7. The second day concentrates on further improving crosscutting and marking out skills to make a trivet with half lap joints.
Pretty enough to be weighed down by a casserole dish
Lesson #2
The candle box is the project for this revamped lesson, which has been highlighted in earlier 5 day class formats. I've been experimenting with alternative powder materials for the kolrosing technique that I first encountered here on Greg Merritt's website. In lieu of coffee or cinnamon to press into the knife cuts, I've been experimenting with sawdust of ebony and padauk. (I say padauk even though I cannot be certain of the species or even the country of origin.) The ebony is as friable as charcoal so it smudges the surface but it does create a richly black line. The padauk sawdust, as long as it is very pulverized, fills the knifecut crisply. The linseed oil swells the fibers and locks the sawdust in place, also deepening its red color.
Celtic motif

Recycled padauk dust

Lesson #6
The footstool initially daunted my hardworking student but she was able to build herself a functional and attractive piece of furniture.  At first she was very hesitant to speak directly with me, preferring to rely on my assistant, Lao Wang, to translate her questions. By day 5, she was much more freely conversant, asking me at one point whether she would be able to take more classes with me after this. Yeah, that's an ego boost.
Drilling out the mortise for the stretcher

Hen Gaoxing!

She needed to come in on the seventh day to trim off the tenons and chamfer the edges. She then carried her projects home by bus.