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post #1 of 14 Old 05-29-2009, 06:51 PM Thread Starter
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Take the class?

I've been waiting to finish a bed for my son before I begin to try using a lathe that I have sitting around. It's a Ridgid. Nothing fancy.

Anyway, I expect to be finished in the next few weeks or so at the rate things are going. At the end of June, the nearest Woodcraft is conducting a "Woodturning Basics" class. It costs $120.

My questions are, has anyone taken one of these classes? Would you recommend it to give me a jump start? Would I be alright to just watch a Richard Raffan DVD and dive into it?

I like the idea of having the $120 for other things, but feel like I could eliminate a lot of trial and error if the class is decent. I have turning tools, but know little about them.

I'm torn on this one. Advice? Oh, if it makes any difference, I'm thinking I'll start with pens and shortly afterwards try bowls and spindles.

Thanks,
Rob
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post #2 of 14 Old 05-29-2009, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rocklobster View Post
Anyway, I expect to be finished in the next few weeks or so at the rate things are going. At the end of June, the nearest Woodcraft is conducting a "Woodturning Basics" class. It costs $120.

My questions are, has anyone taken one of these classes? I'm thinking I'll start with pens and shortly afterwards try bowls and spindles.
Rob,

I started by taking a class before I even purchased a lathe to determine if I would like it or not. The first class I took was a pen turning class. Woodcraft should have this class also. I also took the Turning 101 class. I think that is probably the same as the one you mention.
The turning 101 class taught us how to make a tool. I thought there would be more instruction but with the number in the class, it was like I was on my own and had to ask a bunch of questions. If I had to take the 101 class again, I wouldn't.

I would recommend a pen turning class since that is what you are going to start with. Mine here was only $50 and I got a pen out of it. You will learn the basics with that class. Not much about the other tools but it will give you a start and you can learn how to use the other tools as time goes on.

Just my 2 cents......

Fred

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post #3 of 14 Old 05-29-2009, 09:12 PM Thread Starter
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Rob,

I started by taking a class before I even purchased a lathe to determine if I would like it or not.

I would recommend a pen turning class since that is what you are going to start with. Mine here was only $50 and I got a pen out of it. You will learn the basics with that class. Not much about the other tools but it will give you a start and you can learn how to use the other tools as time goes on.

Just my 2 cents......
Thanks for your 2 cents. I think it's worth more than that. I agree with your suggestion about taking a class before making a big purchase. However, I didn't purchase this lathe. Actually, I did give my mother something for it because she was suddenly living on a fixed income.

My dad did a little bit of everything. When he passed away, my brothers and I waited a few years and then divided up the tools he left behind. I was getting my feet wet with woodworking at the time and decided to choose the tools that I didn't know how to use, vowing to learn.

Although he was a welder for Ford Motor Company, he also enjoyed woodworking. In the past few years, I have learned how to use an arc welder and a scroll saw that came from him, though I am a master of neither. The last thing I have from him that I haven't learned to use is the lathe.

Rob
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post #4 of 14 Old 05-29-2009, 09:33 PM
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It all depends on the instructor of the particular class and the classmates. The disadvantage of a single class is information overload and usually the class may emphasis too much on bring a finished project home. There is no follow up.
Another alternative is finding local turning chapter and join them. A lot of them have almost free mentoring program. There are couple very active turning clubs around your backyard. They are the best value in wood turning. They also have free library of books and DVD for members to borrow.
http://www.woodturner.org/community/...alChapters.asp
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post #5 of 14 Old 05-29-2009, 11:22 PM
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Rob, I second Gordon's very sage advice. I have heard of some very poor Woodcraft instructors and some very good ones. A penturning class may be a good start. Definitely look into a local woodturning club. Joining one has been one of the best things for me. Like Gordon said you have the mentoring aspect and the use of the club library which can definitely save you money over buying dvds.

I took a sharpening class at Woodcraft that was pretty good although it wasn't much of a hands on deal which was somewhat dissapointing. After I joined my woodturning club I had 3 or 4 different people offer time to help me with my sharpening any time I needed it. It is just nice to have folks you can get good advice from. Kinda like here!

Whatever you decide good luck and remember turning is addictive.

John
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post #6 of 14 Old 05-30-2009, 01:06 AM
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I would have to agree with the club route. I started with a Richard Raffan's "Turning Wood" video and dove in. I doubt that a class will help with things like tear-out which seems to be my arch-nemesis but a mentor may be of more help.
If you go the DVD route, you'll be amazed. After you turn a few times, go back and watch the video again and you'll notice new things. Keep doing this and DVDs can be a great help.
Different types of woods present different problems that a class or two won't have the answers to.
Start slow and get a feel for things and just remember, just because your lathe has a "highest speed" doesn't mean you should use it.

Tim
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post #7 of 14 Old 05-30-2009, 10:52 AM
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One other factor beyond control is the classmates. If there is someone who needs a lot of hand holding assistance, experiencing catches after catches; the instructor would be spreading out too thin.
The classes I would highly recommend are those week long or week end classes offered by John C. Campbell http://www.folkschool.org/ or Arrowmont http://www.arrowmont.org/
The class assistant can take care of the student who is holding up the progress of the class. There is enough time to practice the new techniques before going further.
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post #8 of 14 Old 05-30-2009, 11:29 AM
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The classes I would highly recommend are those week long or week end classes offered by John C. Campbell http://www.folkschool.org/ or Arrowmont http://www.arrowmont.org/
Gordon have you been to either of these? or anyone been to one of these? I was looking at the folkschool awhile back. They look awesome. Just wondering if anyone had any firsthand experience.

John
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post #9 of 14 Old 05-30-2009, 02:16 PM
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Gordon have you been to either of these? or anyone been to one of these? I was looking at the folkschool awhile back. They look awesome. Just wondering if anyone had any firsthand experience.

John
Yes, I have attended a 2 week class at Arrowmont. That was the most positive learning experience I had. I would do it again with the subject I am interested in.

I have not attended the Folk School. Dave Hout, a member of our Club teaches certain classes in Folk School. And several members in our Club have taken classes there. They all highly recommend on the classes they took. Several have gone back and took more classes.

Both places have very nice woodturning studios and friendly learning environment. BTW, the food is excellent. Besides the classes in the day time, we can stay at the shop practicing till mid night if we choose to.
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post #10 of 14 Old 05-31-2009, 08:33 AM
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Rob,
I, too, have considered taking a class or joining a turning club. For the time being, I have just been practicing and turning out a few smaller projects, learning techniques along the way. Watching videos on the internet has been somewhat helpful in correcting some of my problems. Try watching a video and just give it a whirl. Make sure the chisels are sharp. It's important. (the guys in the videos have been doing it for years and make it look sooooooooooo easy, don't be discouraged when it's harder than they make it look) You asked me in another post if lathe work is addictive and I apologize for not replying. In reply, yes it is. Once you start, it's hard to stop. A ton of fun.
Let me know how it turns out.
p.s. haven't forgotten about the ski information, I just haven't been at the work yard for 2 weeks. I'll get the info for you as soon as I can.
Ken

There is a very fine line between a "hobby" and a "mental illness"
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post #11 of 14 Old 05-31-2009, 10:28 AM
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Take the class

I go along with Gordan.I took class at woodcraft in Clearwater fl about three yrs ago and the instructor just plain stunk.We only had for people in the class and he spent most of the day with just one of them.Plus he was so into his self that I almost walked out in the 1st two hrs.A total waste of a 100 bucks.So check around and if you can find a club,I believe that would be your best bet.Good luck.
Ken
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post #12 of 14 Old 05-31-2009, 07:52 PM Thread Starter
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Gordon, That's a great link. I think I may be able to take advantage of some opportunities there. Thanks.

Ken, thanks for the reply and I'm in no hurry for ski info so it's alright. You really don't need to trouble yourself.

Everybody, thanks for all the great advice. After weighing what you all said, I've decided that I'll check out a Raffan DVD and a book from Taunton's press, then get started on little projects.

Skipping the class means I'll have more money for tools.

Rob
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post #13 of 14 Old 06-01-2009, 09:31 AM
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Ditto on looking for a club rocklobster. If you can find one in your area it would be a great source of input and assistance.

Gerry
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post #14 of 14 Old 06-01-2009, 11:31 AM
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Save the money a put it to better use. My experiance, like others have said, is that the classes just aren't that good. In the classes I've attended, they were too basic. If you had never seen a lathe and thought you might be interested, and you knew you were going to spend a bunch of money on tools, then the class might be OK.

You probably already know or can learn very quicky what you would get from a basics class.

Just my 2 cents !!

RLH
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