• 25 Aug

    One Way to Go About Gaining Superlative Woodworking Skills

    Learning is not just learning. It is loving.

    When I was in college, I somehow ended up in a class in Russian Literature, a subject for which I do not recall having any particular affection. Just a few days into the semester, I noticed that the professor would start almost twitching with joy when she sensed one of us clueless freshmen getting just a whisper of what she was talking about. And I discovered that the teacher’s enthusiasm for the subject matter was as important to my enjoyment of the class, as was the class itself. Learning can be contagious.

    That has become, all these years later, one of the guiding principles here at the Ebanista School of Fine Woodworking. There are quite a few woodworking schools out here in the Seattle area and all across the country that can teach you some of the basic skills of woodworking. Some of them boast of having a good record of getting their graduates into commercial shop situations, and I salute them for providing that need.

    But, our goal at Ebanista is not to teach you to become a good woodworker. It is to teach you to LOVE being a really fine woodworker.

    When that intoxicating feeling hits you, and it will, the matter of becoming really good at this has already been taken care of. You will, of course, need to spend more hours than you can imagine in your shop and at your bench, to further your skills. But you know how love works: if you love something it ceases to become work.

    If you are considering getting into woodworking just to earn a living, I would suggest you will do neither. You will probably not earn a whole lot of money, and you will probably not get into it.

    If you let it consume you, you will probably do both. You will be in hopeless love with what you are doing with your life, and while you probably still won’t be busting any banks, the money you do earn will seem like a fortune because people who are commissioning you are actually paying you to do what you want to do more than anything. I sometimes feel a little sheepish when I sell a piece. But let’s keep that between you and me.

    By the way, there is a way to have your cake and eat it too. Develop the skills and the affection for all this and do not do it professionally. The difference between a professional woodworker and an amateur has absolutely nothing to do with skill. It signifies only that the former is being paid. Many amateurs do finer work (sadly) than many pros — the passion and love for learning shines through.

    Do it for love. Only love. The rest of the details will work themselves out.

    By Jonathan Cohen Uncategorized
  • 11 Aug

    Student Profile: Braden Tucker

    A Profile of Ebanista School Student Braden Tucker

    Are you curious about the typical student at Ebanista? Wondering about the typical experience at the Ebanista School? We’re now in our third session and there isn’t anything typical because our students have a range of experiences and backgrounds. Our class sizes mean that it’s easy to find your fit here, no matter how new or experienced you are.

    Braden is one of the younger students at the Ebanista School, and simultaneously our oldest. He began his studies at the beginning with our Woodworking Essentials class in our first session and has continued with our curriculum every session since. We asked him to tell us a bit about his experience.

    For Braden, it’s probably in his blood. “Both my grandfathers were men who worked with their hands, one a carpenter and one a mechanic,” he said. “They passed down to me their love for building things. And, even better, their tools.”

    Braden explains that when he was looking for a woodworking school, he wanted something that was more than an afternoon workshop. “[Of] all the schools I could find in the Seattle area, [it] left me with the impression that they were not very thorough in all the important aspects of learning the foundations in woodworking.” He was looking for an education with depth and breadth, and his interest and passion for woodworking kept him looking for the right school. At the Ebanista School, Braden found something different. “Jonathan, the main instructor has more than 40 years of experience. Some of the teachers in the other schools I checked out had instructors that were students just a year or two before.”

    Braden joined us in the first session of classes at the Ebanista school in the Fall of 2018, and he has experienced the core curriculum as it has been developing (check out our updated curriculum starting Summer 2019). “I took the beginning class, Woodworking Essentials and it was amazing to see this world starting to open up. But I would have to say, the second level class, Joinery/Small Cabinet class. It becomes more about hand tools and I have begun to develop more trust in my abilities.”

    Learning the techniques of fine woodworking is important, but the point of it all is to build things and every Ebanista class focuses on a project piece. For Braden’s first class, they didn’t just simply built a table but learned and developed their technique as the class progressed with various hands-on projects. ”This last session, we worked on a small cabinet. It has been more complicated and demanding than I would have guessed: we used splined miters on the carcase which I made of cherry. The splines are ebony and they just look so cool. We also made a solid frame-and-panel door and learn to hang it carefully on knife hinges. And, of course there’s the hand-dovetailed drawer. I felt my ideas and personality come out. And there is a much greater reliance on hand tools, planes and chisels and it was amazing to see how they became more and more my friends.”

    Most recently, he just completed our course called Design Studio, and in his own words, “saw a quantum leap in both my confidence and design abilities”. Not only has Braden continually refined and developed his skills with Ebanista classes, he’s currently working on his third commissioned piece with Ebanista. (You can see the progress on Facebook and Instagram!) When the workload and the waiting list gets to be too much for Jonathan, Ebanista School director, and his clients, he often passes those commissions on to his students, and Braden has been the quickest to leap into that fray. As such, he has been gaining invaluable experience into some of the business aspects of running his own woodworking studio. With the skills he’s acquired here, he will become a full-time woodworker by taking a job at a very good quality woodworking firm in Seattle

    More woodworking is in his future, but also being a part of a growing community that makes Ebanista unique as a school. For many students here, the love of learning and creation helps drive their love of woodworking. “The drive to build and create is within all of us. That desire is just the beginning of course, we also need inspiration and the proper skills in order to express it,” shared Braden “The joy of building comes when we develop our skills enough to act without thinking, to get into the zone. To get there requires hours of practice and expert instruction.”

    We would say he is firing on all cylinders and expect that you will all be hearing more from this talented young man in the future. Want to learn about woodworking? Whether you’re interested in pursuing a new hobby or enthusiastic about being a woodworking professional, check out our upcoming courses.

    By Jonathan Cohen Students