Mike Dunbar Retiring from Teaching

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Details on my blog at Popular Woodworking Magazine here.

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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8 Responses to Mike Dunbar Retiring from Teaching

  1. Missed my chance. Best wishes for them.

  2. Jon Quinn says:

    I owe it to Chris and his blog posts from his class at the Windsor Institute a few years ago for finally getting me to sign up for a class there with Mike. I never really considered taking a woodworking class up to that time (not counting a bamboo fly rod building class). Since then, I was able to attend about 11 or 12 different chair classes up in Hampton. Sad to see it go. I learned a lot, ate really good around Hampton and Portsmouth, and met lots of good people along the way. There may be other Windsor chair making classes, which I have no experience with, but I would bet they aren’t as much fun as the ones at the Windsor Institute.

  3. crowldawg says:

    Cross that off bucket list.

  4. domanicoj says:

    I took 2 chair making courses with Mike back in 96 and 97. I got the best woodworking advice (and life lesson) ever from him. When another student asked Mike if an alternate method could be used for a particular task in the chair making process, Mike asked him to describe it. Once the student described the alternate method, Mike responded with “hmmmm, that sounds interesting, let’s try it.” All the students gathered around as Mike and the student proceeded to try the proposed method. If you know Mike, then you know this was a highlight of the day. As they were working; the conversation was full of great comments, jokes and laughter. The test was successful! I remember going back the next year and that method was now taught as the standard method. I’ll never forget that……..”let’s try it”. Now I do that all the time. Try new things, sometimes it works out sometimes it doesn’t. I have progressed so much further because of that advice. Sometimes I think woodworking has too much dogma, it was nice to see such a well respected woodworker, chair maker, writer and trailblazer be so open minded.
    Thanks Mike!!! Good luck to you and Sue!

  5. “His techniques are a guarded secret among his students.”

    I also have it on good authority that he has honest-to-god sued (!!) a student for violating his “intellectual property” rights. To me it’s really poor form and several centuries out of date to treat woodworking knowledge as some sort of secret restricted to the elite class. Hopefully this opens the space for someone else to start a school that is focused on advancing the craft and tradition rather than just making a buck.

    • Jon Quinn says:

      There already are a couple other people teaching windsor chairmaking. Their approaches or methods are a little different than what was taught at the windsor institute
      Now I believe the other guy copied Mike’s materials pretty much word for word, and used those to start his own classes. How is that proper?
      Mike never made any stipulation that the techniques he taught were secret. He even encouraged people to make and sell chairs – just not to do exactly what he did in teaching for a fee.

      • I can see the argument, but I think it’s an obsolete mindset. I teach at a university for a living. Some of my grad students may end up teaching at other universities after they graduate. Should I sue them for teaching the same knowledge (even if it’s “exactly” the same)? The way to thrive as a teacher is to be a better teacher and constantly innovate, not to be the one who controls the tap on secret knowledge. Suing your students is just extremely poor form and in my opinion inexcusable, even if he had a sound legal basis.

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