Whenever I teach a class, I insist on building the project with the students. No shortcuts. No asking assistants to do my chopping. No afterhours CNC.
I do this for several reasons.
1. I want to demonstrate that the techniques I use are genuine. It would be easy for me to say: Do this. And then nitpick the students as they try to do my bidding. Screw that. If I can’t build it in the time allowed, how can they?
2. It makes me a faster joiner. When I build the project alongside the students I have to push myself to build it to a high standard. I have to be much faster than they are. And I have to float around the room and assist them as I work. I have to be able to produce tight joints while totally distracted. I have to do it while I’m talking. Honestly, I should be paying the students for the training this gives me.
3. It shows the students that anyone can do this. One of the frequent criticisms of my work is that I am “just a journalist.” That I don’t have “traditional training.” And I am not a “professional woodworker.”
All that is true. I don’t deny it. And I don’t care.
If I can build this stuff without some paper certificate, then you can, too. You can build stuff to a much higher level than many professional woodworkers, many of whom have to rely on pocket screws and biscuits to make a living (and there is NOTHING wrong with that).
It is the amateur class that can afford to make furniture to a crazy high standard. So bring it. Whether you are “just a programmer,” “just a firefighter” or “just an engineer,” you can build stuff that will last “just 200 years.”
— Christopher Schwarz