Upping Your Game: What is the best woodworking school?


Learning how to make the perfect cut in wood is not as simple as putting the saw down and pushing it through. Knowing what types of blades to use with what types of woods can take years to learn, even the best guide on the back of packet can only take you so far. But few people have years upon years to learn the right way of doing things through trial and error, so where can you learn how to do woodworking properly?

The best woodworking school will be the one that is most accessible to you, with online courses providing more in-depth theoretical help but not as much practical teaching. There are several physical woodworking schools in the US and UK that have become world renowned for their proficiency. 

These schools all have different things that allows them to be some of the best places to learn how to work with wood. Sometimes there are finer details that you just aren’t sure of and knowing when to use certain types of blades and stain will save you a lot of time as well. Learning these things all mean that you are in a good woodworking school, where you can learn everything you need to.

Here are some of the best resources to learning how to work with wood!

The best schools in the United States

As one of the largest countries in the world that loves to work with wood it should come as no surprise that the US has some of the best woodworking schools in the world. Many of them are theoretical, some are practical but the best ones we’ve listed here are all a good mix of both. 

Normal Woodworking

There are several types of woodworking that needs either refined work, large scale work, or maybe just someone who knows what they’re doing. Normal woodworking schools teaches a bit of everything, aiming to have their student graduate with the knowledge of building everything from a chair to the wooden support beams of a house.

  • Marc Adams School of Woodworking: Started in the 1980s the Marc Adams School of Woodworking has been going strong, building a community of master craftsman passing down the finer and larger details of woodworking. With short courses that only last a week to full courses that can last over a year the school has been building its reputation and attracting student from across the world.
  • Rockingham Community College: Not all woodworking schools are specific for woodworking, with many colleges around the country offering short courses on basic woodworking. The Rockingham Community College has had a woodworking program that has seen many people easily enter the world of woodworking with guidance from capable hands.
  • Rochester Institute of Technology: Not all woodworking will be focused on smaller projects or just short-term teachings. The Rochester Institute of Technology is well known for it’s extensive course in woodworking, focusing on the more complex side of things. Learning how buildings and many larger structures can be built using wood.

Fine Woodworking

While building structures or even simply basic wooden bookcases can be a challenge there are many things to do with woodworking that can truly be a challenge. Creating art out of wood is not nearly as easy as making a straight line, learning the fine details of woodworking can be a massive benefit to your artistic abilities. 

  • William Ng Woodworks: With a focus on precision the Willian Ng Woodworking school has been a long stay in learning the finer details of woodworking, not just creating beautiful pieces of artwork. With courses ranging from one to eight days you will learn how to make the same cut, perfectly each time with ease. 
  • Sam Maloof foundation: With a focus on making the arts and crafts available for anyone willing to learn this not-for-profit foundation has been spearheading many new reforms in the woodworking industry. With several courses teaching the finer nuances of working with wood. Along with studying woodworking you can visit the Sam Maloof museum, where a legacy was born.
  • Charles Brock: With a focus on fine wooden furniture the Charles Brock school of fine woodworking has taught many craftsman how to perfect their artwork. Many people learn the basics of woodworking but never push themselves to learning how to add the finer details, the Charles Brock institute has all the resources and courses needed to turn a simple chair into a piece of art.
  • Santa Fe Community College:  With more official certificate the Santa Fe Community College teaches students about the finer arts of woodworking. Many times, it is the first-time student learn about some of the refinement techniques needed to turn a average piece of woodwork into something much more refined. 

How to choose a good woodworking school?

Choosing a good woodworking course can either make or break the love you have your craft; many times, people choose the wrong course and end up losing the passion they have. Knowing what to choose and how to choose the right course is the perfect way of getting your foot through the door to becoming a master craftsman.

Here’s how you can choose the perfect woodworking course for you. 

Availability of the school

Above all else the school you are choosing to attend should be available to you, either through location or easy internet access. Many people decide to go to more exotic schools, having to travel several hundred miles to only end up at a school that teaches nothing they are interested in. 

Many times people also ignore the colleges in their immediate areas, forgetting that many community colleges excel at teaching practical courses like woodworking. Knowing what is available in your immediate area may help you to gain much more information about woodworking than even the internet could deliver.

Be sure to check every available resource as well, many times older master craftsman are uncomfortable using the internet. Instead relying on word of mouth or simply bulletin boards to advertise the courses that they may have available.

Practical classes

Many times, people are unfortunately fooled into attending classes that has no practical element to it, instead relying almost entirely on theoretical classes. This means that you may be learning about something amazing or a new technique, but you are not learning how to actually do it. 

Before paying for a course it is always important to ensure that there are several practical elements included, even online courses can offer practical demonstrations. Working with wood and learning how to properly do things is all about learning through practical classes. 

Ensuring that you have a practical element to whichever course you do end up choosing will mean a lot more refined work once you eventually start working on your projects.

Ways of being taught

There are several ways of being taught how to work with wood, many colleges will have larger classes, sometimes grouping you up into pairs to work on projects. In these instances, the instructor will give advice as you all start working on your projects.

One of the reasons shorter at home courses have become popular is the much more focused attention you get from the master craftsman. Most two to 9-day courses will have a few less people in them, this means that you will be given personal attention by the instructor. Being told how to do something properly in a one on one is always super effective.

The best way to learn which type of teaching appeals the most to you is to go to several different classes and figure out through which one you have learned the most.

How much would you expect to pay?

Every wood course is different teaching you vastly different things with many different techniques being taught. When you do finally decide on not only the course type but the location of the course you will have to pay to attend. 

Courses can range from anything as low as $100 for a two-day course to well over $10 000 for full diplomas. The choices you make in choosing your course will greatly affect the overall price of the courses. Longer courses will always be more expensive, but much more effective in the long run,

What are the different types of woodworking schools?

There are three types of woodworking schools that you need to be aware of, each have their own advantages and knowing what the schools are will be important to planning your future. The three main ones we are focusing on are weekend classes, vocational location and long-term online courses.

Weekend long masterclasses

Meant for those that have already been quite active in the world of woodworking, masterclasses are specifically for those that need to refine their already existing art. Joining any of these courses if you are still new can damage your progress later down the line. 

Ensuring that you join the right course and the right moment is vital to keeping your growth ever going.

  • Udemy: Easily one of the easiest and most useful sources of masterclasses Udemy has proven that it is not only equipped for training new minds but that it can effectively help many people gain more experience simply through an online course.
  • Forums: One of the oddest locations to encounter a masterclass, many specialty forums for woodworking have their own weekend courses that can be joined. These courses are oftentimes run by master craftsman inside the community. Joining them and watching what they teach will many times let you learn new things you may never have thought existed.
  • Certification centers: Named because of their propensity for giving certifications, these centers are central locations in most areas where you can earn certificates for either learning or demonstrating skills you may already have.

Vocational Sources

The most important location to learn how to do proper woodworking vocational locations are perfect for learning from masters how to do proper woodworking. Usually government sanctioned or approved vocational schools have a complete focus on pumping skills and experience into the world.

Knowing where your nearest vocational school is will save you a lot of time when you eventually decide to start studying woodworking. Some of the most interesting things can be learned and taught at vocational schools, seeing as they follow strict guidelines, and most students can rely on their teachers for proper tutelage in all things woodworking.

The largest benefit of vocational schools is receiving either certificates or diplomas that grant international recognition for your achievement of completing the course. Allowing you to travel to other schools or countries where you can continue your woodworking or use it as a source of income.

Long Term Online classes

One of the more complicated sources for woodworking tutelage long term online classes can usually be found from college or university websites. In some rare occasions websites like Skillshare has hosted online courses that lasted several months; however, these can be rare.

The benefit of these courses is that you can easily learn what tools you need in your own workshop or just how to use all the ones that you already have. Not being confined to a workshop at a school also means you can go at your own pace, some days moving faster than expected while on others you can skip lessons entirely.

None of this will affect you negatively, in some rare occasions you may even be able to certification on the woodworking course that you have completed online. This allows you to continue studying or just show it off to the world that you have indeed received the right qualifications.

How much can you expect to make once you are certified?

Now that you have your woodworking skills all trained up you may be wondering how to start earning money with the pieces that you are crafting. First you’ll have to choose which area of woodworking you are going to specialize in, with some crafters being able to work on simple appliances and others specializing in housing.

Even more odd are crafters who look for niche areas of woodworking, places where there are few to no competition. This lets them easily start earning amount of money that makes them comfortable, which is one of the first things you will want to do, earning enough money to not worry about the immediate future. 

Beginner Earning

When you are still unknown in the industry, either internationally or locally, you will quickly start earning some money. However, this may only amount to a few hundred dollars per project, and owing to you probably not having all the tools needed you may already have the money earmarked.

This is entirely normal as beginner woodcrafters are often reliant on working in groups or churning out higher than usual numbers of the products they are making. Many times the projects they are working on may have to be supervised by more experienced craftsman as well. This means that you have a little bit of a safety net as well.

If you are still learning it is always good advice to have a master craftsman on call, if you need some advice or help working on a project. It’s amazing how many times a problem you are facing, dreading, has already been solved by some of the simplest solutions that you are unaware of.

One of the oddest examples being Japanese joint that rely on the wood swelling from high humidity to lock them into place.

Intermediate Levels

Once you feel more comfortable working with your tools and most types of wood you can be considered at an intermediate, or journeyman, level of crafter. Around this time, you’ll find yourself taking guesses at how to do something right and more often than not being correct. Once you reach this level you will also easily earn enough money to easily make a living.

For an average project you should now be earning a almost a few thousand dollars, with most of your profits going into finding higher quality wood. Many times, journeyman crafters start their own shops, either alone or with friends, this allows them to learn a lot more and grants them the freedom to eventually pass on their knowledge to others.

Some of the best master craftsman were those willing to take a risk when they were only journeyman. Which means your journey may only just be starting when you are finally comfortable enough to use any tool you have at your disposal.

Master Level woodworkers

Few people realize they have become masters of their craft until someone else tells them they are. In some circles there may be other craftsman that welcomes you into their circles, or in most cases you will be approached by someone else who is still learning. 

When you are master craftsman your pieces become more than just another piece of furniture, most of the time your woodworking projects will sell for several thousands of dollars. Or in some cases you may simply become highly in demand to help built housing or other parts of peoples lives. 

Few master craftsman are young, and all the best ones will tell you they are still learning more as they grow older than they ever did when they were young. However, being able to call yourself a master craftsman will mean all the difference when you eventually decide to start teaching others the joys of working with wood.

How long will it take to reach each level?

For each level of craftsman there is an accepted amount of time that it will take to reach that level. Most vocational schools might not even measure the time that you have been working on projects to decide what level you are on. Instead relying on the quality of your work and the amount of completed projects you have in your entire career.

Either way, everyone begins as a rookie, a beginner in the world of woodworking, eventually after studying at a school or through a few courses we become journeyman.

  • Journeyman Crafter: Journeyman crafters are those freshly out of studying, usually classed between complete rookies in the world of crafting and intermediate crafters journeyman are usually recognized by them having only just left their master teachers. This means they are still learning but can no longer learn everything while being watched.
  • Intermediate Crafter: Intermediate craftsman have been making it as their own for several years, usually being capable of doing most things on their own without having to call for advice or watch a video. These woodworkers are usually on the cusp of moving up towards master but are held back by a few mistakes they make either through habit or not enough practice.
  • Master Craftsman: Few, if any craftsman will call themselves a master craftsman, however, the mark of being a master is when those around you are asking for help. Sometimes it may be old friends that studied with you, but in some rare cases it can be when someone who you consider a master refers to you as a master. 

Becoming a woodworker is more than just picking up a tool and using it, learning how to use the tools the right way and doing so without thought are what sets a master and a rookie apart. Knowing what level you are on will help you to not only learn more but give sound advice if someone ever asks you for some. 

What are the ways you can earn money with woodworking?

Making money using woodworking is one of the most confusing, frustrating, and sometimes rewarding experiences you will have on your journey to become a master. The schools will usually be able to set you up to go work at already existing factories, under master craftsman, or just give you an idea of how to start.

One of the easiest ways of creating a revenue service for yourself is by creating advertisements and starting to work on building mounted appliances for clients. These can be anything from kitchen unit to office setups, you may never become rich, but these experiences will allow you to easily learn how to do everything and become more refined around the edges of what you are creating.

Many times, you can move from here to making custom furniture, like TV tables, full dining sets, or in rare cases entire bedroom sets. Once you are started in making these types of appliances you could easily focus on them, becoming known as a custom furniture creator.

Or you could be more large scale focused and only making unseen wooden structures, these can be the support beams for houses. Making money with wood is an endless avenue that many craftsman around the world have become master of.

Conclusion

Learning how to be a master craftsman is a combination of classes being taught or even just repeating something until you finally learn how to perfectly master it. Online courses, vocational schools, or even just a short one day course are all perfect ways to refine your artistry even more.

Just be sure not to lose any fingers while you’re creating your masterpieces! 

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