After my 6 weeks of Rosewood Studio, I felt I should write one final wrap up post on what I thought of the experience. My weekly posts gave you a feeling far what was taught, but it didn’t really give my opinions on anything, so here goes…
For those not wanting to read anymore, I loved it. It was awesome. There, now you can leave. For those who want more details…
Let’s start with the instruction. I thought Ron Barter (head instructor) was excellent. He has an incredible knowledge about woodworking and was always keen to answer my questions, no matter how many I came up with (trust me, I had a lot). Even when the questions strayed off topic, Ron was keen to help out with questions pertaining to other aspects of woodworking, design, and so on. He still answers my questions by email weeks after having taken the course! I found he was very patient, and his methodical approach really helped to limit my mistakes. I now try to tell myself to slow down when I am working at in my shop, as I find this helps reduce my errors. I also loved how he could turn mistakes into opportunities, so if I made a mistake in a cut, he would help find a solution to save the piece instead of simply starting over again. The old saying about learning from your mistakes comes to mind! My only critique was I found sometimes Ron gave too many instructions at once, and I would forget some of the steps. This is likely me being forgetful, but after mentioning this to Ron he adapted his teaching and would send me with less instructions at a time.
Course work: The coursework covered a wide variety of woodworking (see my previous posts for details). It obviously didn’t teach me everything, but what do you expect in 6 weeks? It was an excellent overview and gave me a firm footing in fine woodworking. Did it make me an expert furniture maker? No, of course not, it was 6 weeks! I only wish this course could be offered through a college where this 6 week course could be spread over a semester, with lots of free shop time in order to help practice these new skills over and over. This isn’t really a critique as I signed up for 6 weeks, but if someone did offer a course like this I think it would be awesome. Rosewood offers longer programs, but I couldn’t afford the time commitment.
Facilities: Incredible. Two of each major machine, each student gets a tool kit full of Lie Nielsen and Veritas hand tools. Top notch quality and well maintained. The fact that Ron does testing for Veritas means that he had one of just about every tool they make (even some ones they don’t sell just yet!). This really helped me to figure out what tools I would like to purchase to set up my own shop.
Admin: Mary Ann is the admin at Rosewood. She was very friendly and professional and answered my numerous questions in advance of attending Rosewood. She also seemed to genuinely think I was making nice stuff and doing a good job, which always makes you feel good at the end of the day.
So as you can tell, I loved the course and highly recommend it. Who’s the course directed at you ask? Well I think just about anyone really. You get out of it what you put in. I learnt a ton of basics and foundations to woodworking. But others could hone their skills just as easily. Some of the longer courses would certainly prepare you for a career in fine woodworking, although you’d likely need a few years of experience under your belt before making a successful go at it.
Hope this helps convince anyone who might have been on the fence about this great wood working school!