The Woodwright's School experience...part I

I had the extremely good fortune of spending 1-5 September at Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s school taking the Moravian Workbench class with Will Myers. It was such a good time, I thought I’d write about it to help collect my thoughts and to encourage others to try it for themselves.

Location, Location, Location

If you’ve never been to the Woodwright’s school, you’re missing out. If you’re at all interested in hand tool woodworking, it’s probably as close to heaven on earth as you’ll find. Sure, Lie-Nielsen Toolworks is a pretty cool place, and I’m sure the Lost Art Press storefront is great too. But let me paint a picture for you: the school is in Pittsboro, North Carolina, which is basically straight out of a Norman Rockwell painting. There is literally a soda shop next door. It’s a small town with lots of independent businesses—plenty of places to get meal or a beer (more on that later).

Inside the shop are about a dozen sturdy workbenches, and if there is a class, 8 or so enthusiastic students sawing, chiseling, and planing their way toward enlightenment. The shop is plenty cool in hot weather, well-lit, and fully capable of holding a shop full of sawdust makers without anyone feeling too crowded. All in all, the shop is just where the magic happens—it doesn’t need much in the way of description.

When you take a break from making sawdust, you can take a walk upstairs and visit Ed’s antique tool store. There, you’ll find an array of “users” (both tool addicts and plenty of well-tuned saws, planes, chisels, measuring implements, etc.). Ed is a hand tool expert, saw sharpener, and overall great guy with whom you can chew the fat while resting your hands.

At the end of the day, clean up your mess, and walk through the back door of school and into the front door of the City Tap—a local bar with a good selection of local brews and typical bar fare.

In case you haven’t put it all together on your own, let me nutshell it for you really quickly: there’s a hand tool woodworking school in a lovely little town; above the school is well-stocked hand tool woodworking store; behind the school is a bar. This is a veritable summer camp for woodworking nerds.

I passed through Pittsboro this past spring on my way to a wedding and stopped by the school to check it out. About 30 seconds into my visit, I decided I needed to take a class. But because I was a little late to the party, the classes were already full (they are announced in January and pretty much filled up in a few days).  But during my visit Roy encouraged me to join the waitlist and remain hopeful. I was lucky to get into the Moravian workbench class with Will Myers…more on that in a future post.