Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tech Tip Tuesday

Razor Sharp Chisel - $40.00

Many-toothed Dozuki Saw - $45.00

Fully Stocked First Aid Kit?  - Priceless

An event this weekend in class reminded me of the value of a well-stocked first aid kit.  One of my students had a minor accident with a router this weekend.  This particular student was passing the router from one hand to another while the router was running.  It is a palm router, so that's not that unusual.  What was unusual, was that for whatever reason - fatigue, simple inattention, or whatever - the student wasn't watching as this happened and nipped a pinky with the router. 

As a woodworking instructor, I know that events like this *can* happen, although it does upset me when it does happen.  What I do know, is that we'll be prepared for most incidents because the shop is equipped with a good first aid kit.  For a woodworking shop, this means more than a few band-aids.  We stress the importance of good procedures, set-up and safety in general, but what happens when things go pear-shaped?

Below is a poster that was produced by Fine Woodworking with a suggested first aid kit inventory and basic first aid procedures.  (Click to enlarge)  It contains an excellent basic list that I'd add a couple of thoughts to.  Since the article was written, clotting kits and bandages have become available as a result of treating soldier's bleeding in the field.  They would be an excellent addition.  An eye cup for eye washing and a CPR mask would also be nice to have.  I know I'll be looking at our first aid kit with a critical eye this week.

As you are thinking of what should go in your kit, think about the particular things you do in your shop that could hurt you or others.  While some of the most common things that people think of are cuts and potential amputations, some other common things are allergic reactions to wood dust and chemicals, debris in the eye, splinters, burns - both thermal and chemical, splinters, and broken bones or bruising from a kick-back.

With any injury that involves a cut, it is important that the wound is cleaned well with soap and water and anti-biotic ointment.  Wood isn't the cleanest thing around after being handled in the woods, sawmills and lumberyards.  If the wound becomes infected or you don't have a recent tetanus shot, make an appointment to see your doctor.  The follow up can be as much a life-saver as the initial treatment of the injury.

One final thought - most folks are not doctors or paramedics.  Keep calm and know your limits for treating yourself and others.   Use common sense and call the professionals in when needed.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Old School.

Ok, my French isn't so good, but this video is an opportunity to watch masters at work, doing what may soon be considered a "lost art".  With any luck, video documentation like this will save this information for the future. 




Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday Thought

Anyone who says they like portaging is either a liar or crazy.

- Bill Mason

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tech Tip Tuesday

Sort of strange Tech Tip Tuesday, as the "tech tip" is about teaching.

The most important thing that you can do as an instructor is to realize that all students are different.  They come with different life experiences, preconceived notions, and abilities.  My students have had various degrees of woodworking experience from rank beginner to professional cabinet-maker.   Some have better visualization skills and some have better dexterity than others.  I'm always a little apprehensive during the first weeks of class as I'm trying to figure out what is unique to each of the students, learn names and instruct the class.

I've learned that people learn things differently from one another.  Some folks learn better by hearing about something. Some learn by watching the task being done  or seeing pictures of the process.  Some learn by doing the task hands-on.  Some need a bit of all three.  You need to know how that student "operates" to be able to best instruct them.

As a teacher, you will also need to recognize that you don't know everything.   It would be pretty arrogant to assume that you did as nobody really does - even the experts.  Sometimes you have to say, "I don't know", "Let me think about it" or "Let me do a bit of research".  It's more important to find the right answer than to worry about looking stupid and giving and off the cuff answer that isn't right.

The first year I taught I was pretty nervous as I really had no idea how well or badly certain things would go.  I had some teaching experience from college and summer camp work, so I understood how to organize and teach a class and I knew my subject matter, but I still had a bunch of questions running around my head about how things would work.   It gets better with time.  The more you teach a subject, the smoother it gets - the first year will not be as smooth, but as time goes on, the benefit of experience is nothing to sneeze at.

I learn more from my students than they do from me and I think most good teachers recognize this.  What I mean here is that I learn things to teach my students two ways.  The first way is by watching the types of mistakes they make and try to tailor my instruction  for the future to avoid these mistakes.  As there are probably an infinite variety of mistakes out there, I figure I'll learn a great deal. The second way I learn from students is that they bring different experiences to the class from the outside world. Often by the questions they ask and methods they suggest we all learn something new - even if it's not to do something that way.

You have to keep yourself focused on the goals at hand - in my class, we build sawhorses and strongbacks, but the goal of the class is to learn to build boats.  Are the strongbacks integral to that process?  Yes - so we go over that in class in pretty good detail.  Are the sawhorses?  Well, not really, so that becomes a group project that is more focused on "production" - knocking the work out - than the lessons of building a sawhorse.

Another basic rule of teaching comes from the Silver Fox:

"Tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em.  Tell 'em.  Tell 'em what you told 'em."  Pretty simple - you can't expect students to get things the first time.  They will learn best by hearing, seeing, or doing something repeatedly.  This is how they gain experience.

One last thing.  Have patience.  Lots of patience.