The final day of the "Excellence with Hand Tools" workshop at the Rosewood Studio started right where day 4 left off. All the practice cuts for the dovetails are done, the real cuts are made, and the waste is chopped away using the chisels we previously hollow ground. Each new skill taught in the workshop builds on the previous one, and this is evident as we use all the acquired skills to complete our final tasks. Once the tails of the dovetails are cut, a lesson in making the pins is presented, then back to the bench to apply the theory. I must say I was very satisfied with my first effort, consisting of two tails and three pins, I an increased the challenge on my second attempt. I was pleased that my second ones turned out even better than my first.
For many woodworkers, hand cutting dovetails is a scary proposition. I know I have been apprehensive in the past, but if you follow the basic steps, it's really a straightforward process. The workshop ended with a lesson on card scrapers followed by a 'Name that Wood' contest. Once everyone said their goodbyes, I started my five hour drive home. Certainly adequate time to reflect on the past five days.
And as I look back two things really stood out to me. Firstly the reminder that fine woodworking is a series of steps. Each one building on the previous. Complicated tasks are less overwhelming when you break them down to simple steps. Secondly, besides the thousand little tips and tricks learned throughout the week, the most important thing I left with was new confidence.
Picture this. You pick up a bench plane for the first time in your life, run it across a board, and you make something that resembles shaving. You should asking yourself a million questions. Are these shaving right? To thick? To Thin? Is the surface smooth enough? Is it sharp enough? Is the plane setup correctly? If not, what should I adjust? Am I doing this right? You can spend time and read a book, a blog, or a magazine (and I've done them all), but there is something about a seasoned veteran looking over your shoulder and telling what's right and wrong. Now when a plane isn't behaving the way I expect it to, I know what steps to take to troubleshoot the situation.
It's worth noting that Rosewood Studio is teaching you 'a way' of doing things. Ron teaches a basic approach to each skill, explains why he chooses to do it that way, and stays away from additional complication. He's building a foundation for your woodworking skills to build on. I went there feeling like I had a partial foundation built, in hind sight it might have only been footings, and I left satisfied with the progress I had made. The bottom line taking this course was the single best investment I've made in my woodworking hobby and I would recommend taking this, or a similar course, to anyone who takes the craft seriously.