Off to Australia – Spots Still Open in my Classes


By the time you read this, I will be on my way to Melbourne, Australia, for three weeks of teaching and building at the Melbourne Guild of Fine Woodworking, which is run by Alastair Boell, a graduate of Boston’s North Bennet Street School.

I’ll be teaching four classes there, including a full-size tool chest from “The Anarchist’s Tool Chest,” a Schoolbox from “The Joiner and Cabinet Maker” and an authentic Shaker wall cabinet.

Curiously, there are still six openings in the class for the Shaker cabinet March 25-26. That class almost always fills up pronto when I teach it in the States and Germany. Perhaps some Australians are leery of building a piece of furniture from an odd religious sect. So let me make the following very clear:

During this two-day class, we will not be practicing sexual abstinence. No one will be abstaining from intercourse during the entire two days.

The Shaker cabinet class is a great introduction to the principles of hand joinery. We’ll process stock by hand, cut dados and rabbets by hand and learn a lot about nail technology and fitting doors.

If you have those days free, you can sign up for the class here.

There also is one opening in the tool chest class. Details here.

During the last two weeks, I’ve received a lot of advice on making the 16-hour flight across the Pacific. Here are three perspectives:

1. Slow down a couple of days ahead of the flight. Eat lighter foods, avoid a lot of salt and fat.  Hydrate (not just beer). Do your normal exercise. Once on the aircraft, use anti-bac wipes and clean your tray table, etc. If anyone hands you a bottle, wipe it. Keep drinking water and avoid alcohol (if you can). Move around as much as you can. If you can’t walk around then do whatever you can to stretch/move your body as much as you can. About halfway through the long haul go to the restroom and do a quick wash (I take a small wash cloth & towel along in a plastic bag), change underclothes (that would be your drawers), socks, brush teeth, put in moisturizing eye drops, etc. and you will feel much better.

2. Take some fried baloney sandwiches with you, about six to eight will do. Swill as much beer as they will give you. Take your shoes off, put on some fuzzy slippers, put the seat back as far back as possible and pass out with your mouth wide open. But don’t ask the flight attendant which channel has “the porn.”

3. Drugs. Lots of drugs.

I am planning on using all three strategies.

I hope to post a few blog entries while down there, so be sure to check back during the next three weeks.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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36 Responses to Off to Australia – Spots Still Open in my Classes

  1. Brandon says:

    You will be all kinds of screwed up flying east across the globe. Flying west, you will likely be fine, and back into the normal routine instantly.

  2. Kevin in OH says:

    My wife’s family are from Queensland, so we go every other year… this year we’ll be arriving on March 26, so we’ll just miss you! Have fun, and make sure you sample some meat pies, sausage rolls, and a pavlova.

  3. nickgibbs says:

    Somebody once told me that you can combat jet lag by removing your shoes, and putting your feet into one (or perhaps two) paper bags. I think it may be that in the paper bags your feet will slip around, and keep you awake, or something. I’ve only tried it on a flight from London to Paris, and it seemed to work brilliantly, with no jet lag afterwards. Have a good trip.

  4. SteveR says:

    I’ve done the trip many times as I lived in New Zealand for many years. My advice: Get as much sleep as you can on the plane and just forget about trying to figure out what time it is ‘back home’. Your jet lag should be over about the time it’s time to return! Oh, and drive on the left!

  5. rwdawson says:

    Based on your sexual abstinence remarks, it seems safe to assume that there will be no need to ask the flight attendant about “the porn.”


  6. oldster says:

    It is a bit late for this flying advice, but something to think about next time.
    Fly to Hawaii, spend a couple of days for R&R. Fly out on a late night flight (they have one at approx 11:pm). Sleep on the flight and when you wake up, the sun is rising as you glide into Sydney.
    No jet lag.

    Lee (the saw guy)

  7. robert says:

    Why not go whole hog with those fried baloney sandwiches? You are going to need a dessert and a drink – so hopefully you’ve packed a box of moon-pies and snuck on a case of RC cola. You have that and you won’t need porn.

  8. rwyoung says:

    “During this two-day class, we will not be practicing sexual abstinence. No one will be abstaining from intercourse during the entire two days.”

    The visualization of in-class activities makes me cringe. Please at least encourage them to practice safe sawing.

  9. Depends on the airline, but the seats in many are cranked together to get more people into a flight. This is more of a problem if, like me, you are over 6 feet tall. To prevent locking up, get up and stretch often. Do the same kind of stretching you do at the bench, or tai chi or whatever, but stretching is useful and helped me on frequent Amsterdam-Seattle and back flights. Do this before the aisles are blocked with “food” carts, and afterwards. Try not to look at the map on the in-flight screen. It’s embarassing when a grown man gets into “Are we there yet?” mode, especially when it’s me.

  10. Colin says:

    To fully appreciate a trip to Melbourne, you should leave from the east coast and travel with a small child. After that anything is an improvement.

  11. Brian says:

    Very funny. Too bad you weren’t doing online courses. Those could absorb without the flight and really swill.

    Waiting for your European bench piece in the June edition of PW. Subscribed just to get that (and it’s been a while since I subscribed to PW).

    • fitz says:

      Thanks for subscribing (on behalf of my cats, who appreciate your help in keeping them fed)

  12. FIG Woodworks says:

    once here Chris remember to watch out for the drop bears and hoop snakes, and remember to eat Vegemite every day 🙂

  13. Brian says:

    Most of the worlds deadliest, most vemomous creatures are found in Australia. Shake your boots out before putting them on. And don’t mush a bug unless you know whether it can bite back.

  14. Tom Pier says:

    I think you should follow the “drink as much booze as possible” rule. If it doesn’t work at least we get to hear an amusing anecdote. With a bit of luck you could make the inernational news.

  15. Watch out they don’t call ya a “poofter” mate. Oh, and eat some lamingtons.

    • FIG Woodworks says:

      MMMM Lamingtons and a nice cup of tea, Chris will think he has died and gone to heaven

  16. Brian Dormer says:

    But… everything you build there will be upside-down. Won’t all the tools fall out of the chest?

    (Oh – and the water swirls down the drain the other way in the tubs and toilets)

  17. Tim Henriksen says:

    Valium and a good book on power tools …. zzzzzzzz.

  18. FIG Woodworks says:

    Chris should try some pavalova whilst he is here, he could have it for afternoon tea along with some lamingtons and vegemite sandwitches all washed down with a nice cup of billy tea, food for real men 🙂

  19. Alan says:

    Tim Tam biscuits are evil.

    • FIG Woodworks says:

      The only way to eat a Tim Tam is to bite diagonal corners off and stick one end into a glass of port then suck, better than Pavlova, lamingtons and Vegemite sandwiches. Chocolate coated Teddy Bears biscuits are nice this way also.

  20. Ed Gabrielle says:

    Hi Chris… hope the flight went well. Will you be making a DVD or publishing a build article on building the Shaker wall cabinet? Thanks, Ed

  21. Kevin Wilkinson says:

    1.5mg of Lorazepam works for me, in half milligram increments. 2.5mg will have me asking the next day, “Plane? What plane?”. DO NOT MIX WITH BEER. You’ll wake up somewhere over the west coast of the US heading east.

  22. Stuart says:

    Reblogged this on Stu's Shed.

  23. I had the wonderful opportunity of working in AUS for 3 months. Traveled the entire lower portion from East to West, including Tasmania. I very nearly sold my ticket home. The absolute best people, beautiful women, who’d accent alone will make you chase them. Wonderful food, wonderful beer, I tried to drink all the VB they could produce. Just the best, the very best life I could imagine. I still wish I had stayed.

  24. Bill Anderson says:

    We flew to NZ a year ago and I found it useful to go up to the space around the galley and do isometric exercises every 2 hours or so to keep the blood moving.

  25. Don’t know if Alastair remembers me but, if he does, tell him I said hello.

  26. Craig. says:

    Perhaps the Australians are only interested in buy Australian.

  27. Andrew Wilkerson says:

    The fact that the class is not fully sold out could be something to do with the price. I’m a self employed woodworker and was so excited when I heard you were coming but can’t afford a weeks wage plus the money I’d loose from the time away from my workshop. Most woodworkers here are probably in the same boat. Luckily the seminar was only $25 so I’ve signed up for that at least. Hopefully I’ll learn something to help me earn more and get the most out of my hand tools. I asked at my local woodwork club if anyone else was going. Someone said is he the guy that I’ve seen on tv that always uses a nail gun? I think they thought you were Norm Abram. We dont get many woodwork shows on cable here and cable costs a fortune.

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