It’s Not Me. It’s You.


There are times that I want to think I have become a better teacher during the last 20 years I’ve been a woodworking and writing instructor. But then I always discover the real reason for that feeling.

Today we started a new workbench-building class at the Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, and I was surprised how much progress we made during only six hours of work. We will be done with the workbench tops tomorrow – definitely ahead of schedule (but don’t tell the students that; I’m telling them we are already two days behind).

For a fleeting moment I thought I had finally figured out a way to organize every task and explain it so it was efficient and inevitable.

Then I looked at the notes I had written down when I’d interviewed the students at the beginning of class.

These guys were not newbs. We have a former instructor at North Bennet Street School, former model makers, people with art degrees involving shop, and amateurs who had been at it for 20 years.

Really, these 12 guys don’t need me. I’m just there to make sure it all gets done in a week and to fix any minor missteps. And if we fall behind, I get to start yelling in a German accent.

I’m OK with that. It should be a fun week. And I also get to eat at Frank Pepe’s Pizza about 10 times.

Here’s a tip if you are building a bench using a laminated top: Borrow a friend’s old biscuit joiner – there are millions of them out there that aren’t being used. If you are gluing up your top alone, the biscuits will help align the boards and save you hours (maybe days) of work.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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10 Responses to It’s Not Me. It’s You.

  1. James MacNaughton says:

    Go to Mulberry Pizza for dinner!!

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Like a chump I still have the Biskit jointer from when Norm and Fred Durst were hot I did it all for the Wookie

  3. John Koten says:

    Experienced woodworkers taking a woodworking class! Seems a good example of how learning teaches you that there is always more to learn.

  4. Chris
    What do you think of using dowels instead of biscuits for the laminated top?

    • jenohdit says:

      BC: Does the readership of LAP satisfy your mantra “disobey me”? Do you worry sometimes that too many of us – particularly novices – want you to be their guru?

      CS: We all need some help at first – I sure did. So I’m not bothered by beginners who ask endless questions. That’s totally natural.

      What I don’t like seeing is people who cannot cut the umbilical cord. Even after years of bench work and building dozens of great projects, they still want someone to validate their decision to buy a particular brand of 3/16” chisel. Or worse – for me to do the research for them.

  5. Shout out to Matt! You lucky bastard.

  6. Scott Taylor says:

    I still use my biscuit joiner, a lot…. why not, it works…

  7. Kevin Thomas says:

    I remember your first workbench class, at Kelly Mehler’s School. Fun times. No biscuit joiner, though.

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