Teaching Traditional Woodworking to the Prince of Wales Traditional Building Summer Program

I was asked to teach the woodworking portion of the Prince’s Foundation Summer Skill Building Program here in New Orleans, and was tasked with both giving a lecture summing up the importance of joinery as well as educating the students in my workshop for two days. For the workshop section, I decided to give them a taste of both the old and new tools of woodworking, and split the day into two parts to do so.  They spent the first half of the day learning how to use the modern machines that I use everyday in the shop to make architectural items such as doors and windows, focusing on what it would take to run a production shop: drawings, cut lists, safety, and machine operation and technique for dimensioning of lumber.  In the latter half of the day, the students were given a schematic of a simple lap joint frame that i drew up and were told to cut and assemble the frame by hand, using the dimensioned lumber from the first section of the class.  Though the lap joint is one of the simplest joints to cut in woodworking, it can be quite a challenge to cut a straight and square cut with a hand saw if you are not used to using one.  The idea was to not only challenge the students and let them get their hands dirty, but also to instill the appreciation for the skill involved in woodworking, particularly in millwork that was made before our current, modern improvements in tool technology.  Though tool mechanization has made the life of the craftsman easier, without the basic skills needed to do a task without a modern tool, the craftsman can become complacent and lose the understanding of the art and finesse that are the differentiating qualifiers between fine woodworking or plain old carpentry.  Plus, what do you do when your power goes out and you can’t use your table saw?  Or when you are asked to restore a historical piece that can’t be done any other way than by hand?  The students rose to the challenge, and each ended up with a handmade frame that will fit the certificate they’ll receive upon completion of the program.  For more information on the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Community visit http://www.princes-foundation.org

From the Princes foundation website: “Our crafts and architecture Summer School teaches how traditional building repair techniques can be applied to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. It’s an intensive three-week course, one aimed at architects, planners, developers, builders and craftspeople. Through a series of lectures, workshops, drawing and building exercises and field trips, our Summer School participants develop an in-depth knowledge of traditional building and repair techniques and how these can be applied.”

1 Comment

Filed under Millwork, Prince of Wales Building Trades Aprrenticeship Program, Uncategorized

One response to “Teaching Traditional Woodworking to the Prince of Wales Traditional Building Summer Program

  1. The frames turned out great! I can’t wait to feature your work tomorrow on News with a Twist!

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