ACW Shop Class Update 23 March 2016

At this point I am straight up getting my butt kicked in learning everything to set up for the Shop Class. 

Originally, I had some numbers put together from a couple of businesses that could set things up for me, but it was well out of my budget as it was in the range of buying a really nice used car. As a contractor, I understand the cost of paying someone else to perform the work that we think we can do ourselves, but I also understand everyone has a budget. That is why I don't get a lot of jobs myself. 

One of the long-term benefits of me boot strapping this, is that I learn how to do everything for myself and I will understand the system. While I may end up with a small team in the future to delegate some of the work, I can only afford to do it myself at first. (No doubt I have a business plan.)

It hasn't been just learning the school platform, it is pretty much the fact I have been learning everything that we take for granted when we consume information. There are a lot of different skills and platforms that come into play to effectively share information. So, I am not just starting a new business, I am learning a whole new set of skills. 

I am not striving for perfection, but I am striving for a higher standard. If I am going to ask somebody to exchange money for information, the information has to be good and so does the delivery system. 

One of the biggest hurdles simply has been my own reliability in running all of the equipment. If you look at my latest YouTube videos you will see the level of quality has vastly improved over my older videos. That is because I upgraded from 2 camcorders to recording on 2 DSLR's. They give me greater control to produce a better image, but that also means there is less automation and more manual settings I have to deal with.

Producing the YouTube videos has been extremely important for me to become familiar with the equipment and the video production workflow so that I may function reliably once I kick things off. I know that mistakes may happen along the way, but I need a baseline of reliability. I AM the weakest link...

I also found that with upgrading to the DSLR's, my 5 year old iMac runs a lot more slowly. The great image that comes from the DSLR's also comes with file sizes that are 2.5x larger than the HD camcorders that I was previously using. The computer is stable, it just takes a really long time to process as I edit. So I have a new iMac in the budget as well as external hard drive storage to handle the large volume of data that video files create. 

It is difficult to pin a date on launch since I really am in uncharted waters. I had dates in mind, I have blown those, but I shall just keep pushing forward with only the rough estimation of "coming soon." 

I appreciate your patience and support and hope to see you soon in the American Craftsman Shop Class.

Your friend in the shop - Todd

A Great Write-up on Hand Tools vs. Power Tools

The debate never seems to end on the topic of hand tools vs. power tools. 

It seems that the debate is fueled by it a lot of people regurgitating something they read somewhere, just a lot of opinions with no sound experience behind them and a limited field of view.

The damage is done when new woodworkers join the online communities and they feel like they have to make a choice: Which ONE type of woodworker will I be? Hand tools or power tools? 

This morning, I found a really nice blog post by John at Woodworking Web.

He has written a well balanced perspective steeped in wisdom and sound judgement. 

I am not going to re-hash it here at my site, but you can read his post HERE.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

Well done John, it is one of the best reads that I have had in a long time, printed or digital. 

Your friend in the shop-

Todd A. Clippinger

Share the Love - Share the Knowledge


Woodworking For Kids

When it comes to sharing woodworking with my grandkids, I keep it simple. In fact, I really don't care if they take a shine to woodworking, I would just rather they get the opportunity to be creative.

When they come over for a visit, they don't ask if they can do woodworking, they just ask, "Can we build?"

At this point, I have done very few structured projects, I usually just let the kids have at it with the bin of wood scraps. Kids don't need to be told what to build with the scraps, their imaginations kick into high gear and they figure it out naturally.

I call this the "empty box effect." An empty box is an open ended toy and a child's imagination starts exploring all of the possibilities of what the box can become. The same thing happens with the wood scraps.

During the kids' build sessions, there is plenty of opportunity to teach them about safety, how to use the tools, and problem solving skills.

I think that both structured and unstructured projects have their own advantages and lessons to offer, so I do not necessarily value one over the other. But I will admit that structured projects require more prep time because you have to make parts in advance.

When working in the shop, the kids are exposed to a limited set of dangers, but that is an inherent risk of having them in the shop. Overall, the exposure is controlled and gauged according to the abilities of each child.

The fear of allowing kids into the shop will never give them the opportunity to learn self-control and respect for the tools and a somewhat hazardous environment. Personally, I don't see that it is any less hazardous letting kids ride a bike, a skateboard, or jump on a trampoline. I will not allow an unreasonable fear to keep my grandkids from such a valuable learning experience as they have in my shop.

In the end, I am trying to develop a culture of activity, creativity, and exploration in my family. I think all of the benefits of this far outweigh the perceived dangers.

And to think, I have not even mentioned the added benefit of the hours that the kids have spent with me, Grandpa Todd. There is enough content and lessons there for another blog.

I hope you enjoy the video.

Your friend in the shop-

Todd A. Clippinger

Leave a Legacy - Share the Love, Share the Knowledge