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May 2 to 5 Broom & Dustpan Making - 4 days, level 1, + $35 materials fee (1 spot open)
June 13 to 18 - Spoon Carving Intensive - 6 days, level 1, no materials fee (this class is FULL)
June 25, 26 & 27 - Intro to Green Woodworking - 3 days, level 1, no materials fee (1 spot open)
July 2 - 6 - Scandinavian Bentwood Tine Boxes - 5 days, level 1, + $25 materials fee (2 spots open)
July 11, 12 & 13 - Advanced Crook or Crank Spoons (please note prerequisites) - 3 days, level 1, no materials fee (this class is FULL)
July 18 to 24 - Make a Chair From a Tree - 7 days, level 3, + $50 materials fee (this class is FULL)
August 1 to 4 - Hand Hewn Greenwood Bowls - 4 days, level 2, $25 materials fee (this class is FULL)
August 8 to 13 - Small Coopered Wooden Buckets - 6 days, level 2, $35 materials fee (this class is FULL)
September 3 to 6 - Bill Coperthwaite 4-board "Democratic" Chair - 4 days, level 1, + $15 materials fee (3 spots open)
September 12 to 19 - Curtis Buchanan Shaved Windsor Side Chair - 8 days, level 3, + $140 materials fee (1 spot open)
1. Broom Making + Dustpans - 4 day class - 1 spot open
May 2nd to 5th
exertion level 1 - materials fee: $35
$520 + 35 = $ 555 total
It is very satisfying to use a broom that is handmade. It can turn a mundane task into a satisfying ritual - sweeping begins to feel like a dance between the maker, the sweeper and the broom.
We are excited to share this handcraft which our friend Fritz taught us, he learned it while he was an intern at Tillers International in Michigan.
Students in this 4 day class will make two different styles of handmade brooms; a classic floor broom and a whisk broom. Materials we’ll use include broom corn, special tarred cordage, broom sewing needles and (for the larger floor broom) a custom carved broom handle. We will discuss dust pan design and broom handle decoration.
Making brooms requires very minimal infrastructure and tools, so this accessible craft is definitely something that students can continue at home.
We'll investigate several designs for handmade dustpans once the brooms are made, so that students have a highly utilitarian set of tools.
Our classes are human-scaled and quiet in a pleasant, productive way with 5 or 6 students at most, a perfect atmosphere to learn and pursue handcrafts together.
2. Spoon Carving Intensive - 6 day class - 1 spot open (5.10.22)
June 13th to 18th
exertion level 1 - materials fee: none
$ 780 total
A wonderful and full week of carving spoons together, for all levels of skill and experience.
We will start by taking a walk in our surrounding woods to look at trees and natural crooks from which to make curved wooden spoons. Larger serving spoons will allow more room for practicing knife and axe skills, but students can experiment and play with many sorts and sizes of spoons and utensils. Participants can experiment with our collection of carving axes to rough out spoon blanks and get a feel for different weights and styles of axes. We've also got block knives for the roughing-out process. We’ll discuss layout and design choices before we dive in with straight and curved knives to refine and shape our spoons. Kenneth will introduce a variety of techniques and tool choices, such as bent and dog leg gouges as alternatives or additions to the standard slöjd knives for carving. Emphasis is placed on using natural crooks and following the wood fibers to design for curvaceous, flowing lines. Much attention will be paid to proportions and resolving facets in a pleasing way.
Sharpening (grinding, honing and stropping), safe and effective knife grips, work-holding options, understanding wood species and selection, and design feedback/discussion will all be covered.
Because of our small class size (limit of five) Kenneth is able to work with each student to improve and deepen their sense of carving wherever they are in terms of familiarity with design choices, tool skills and previous hand work experience.
3. Intro to Green Woodworking - 3 day class - this class is FULL (12.7.2021)
June 25, 26 & 27th
exertion level 1 - materials fee: none
$ 390 total
This course encompasses the heart of coursework here at the Maine Coast Craft School. It could also be called Green Woodworking 101. It’s our most basic and introductory class where Kenneth teaches foundational handwork skills; the bedrock of green woodworking. We’ll be using two core hand tools, the sloyd knife & carving axe, to develop hand and knife skills as students carve projects such as chopsticks, butter spreaders, wall-mounted coat hooks, shinto foxes and twig roosters.
- understanding wood fiber/grain
- understanding theory of sharpness in broad terms
- intro to sharpening edge tools - specifically essential/primary edge tools (sloyd knife & carving axe)
- safety: proper technique to keep oneself safe while using sharp tools
- hands-on projects to apply & understand all concepts in an experiential way
4. Scandinavian Bentwood/Tine Boxes - 5 day class - 2 spots open
July 2nd to 6th
exertion level 1 - $25 materials fee
$650 + $25 = $ 675 total
We have seen bentwood boxes in quite a few cultures; archeologists have discovered examples in Viking ship excavations in Norway, there are gorgeous old and modern examples from the First Nations peoples of the Pacific, and there are the more modern American Shaker oval boxes. Scandinavian countries all have examples of bentwood boxes. We are focusing on the Norwegian Tine (pronounced “tee-nah”) as the model for this class.
Students will learn steam bending techniques and basic carving skills. We’ll use common hand tools such as gouges, spokeshaves and chisels to shape and fit the various parts of the box together.
Many historical examples of these folk art boxes are personalized and embellished with typically Scandinavian vernacular decorations such as chip carving and painting. Kenneth will demonstrate some of these techniques so that students can practice skills and add decoration during the course of the class (time permitting) or at home.
5. Advanced Crook/Crank Greenwood Spoon Carving - 3 day class - class is FULL
July 11, 12 & 1th
exertion level 1 - none
$ 390 total
- Please note prerequisites before registering for this class.
All hand carved spoons are one-of-a-kind, but each spoon carver has within them a specific style, comprised of design choices balanced with the reality of using a spoon and also the material the spoon is made of. We’ll be doing some in-depth work around each student’s vision of spoon carving design in this course.
Important to know is that this class is all about designing and carving spoons from greenwood crook/crank blanks. Crooks or cranks are found in trees wherever the tree naturally grew in a turn or bend. Prerequisite for registration is to either have taken our six day Spoon Intensive course previously, or to have a demonstrable body of work that indicates a certain level of experience with these kinds of spoons. (please be in touch with some information and images via email: email@example.com)
Students should bring their own tools and at least two roughed-out greenwood crook spoon blanks in various stages of completion (still green) to be worked on during the class. Also bring finished work as we’ll engage in group critique of spoon design with a chance for in depth discussion and feedback.
We’ll practice, refine and build skills around tool use & sharpness in order to achieve surfaces with no grain tear-out and which do not require sanding before oil finishing. We’ll also do a deep dive into sharpening; grinding-honing-stropping of hook knives, sloyd knives and sloyd axes. We’ll also compare, through hands-on use, different makes of each of these tools.
This is something of a functional art class, not a production-oriented or sculptural spoon class. We’ll first work on laying out a design and then use a logical, sequential progression, with reproducible steps, to hone one’s design vision. We will move away from intuitive carving in order to fine-tune the unique expression of one’s personal aesthetics & design style.
6. MACFAT/Make a Chair from a Tree (Post and Rung ladder back chair making) - this class is FULL
7 day class
July 18th to 24th
exertion level 2 or 3 - materials fee: $45
$910 + $50 = $ 960 total
Using a minimal assortment of hand tools, students will learn how to craft and assemble this
elegant, lightweight, durable, and very comfortable chair. This is the chair and the class that Jennie Alexander is known for. Kenneth learned this chair from Drew Langsner, who learned from Jennie during classes she taught at Country Workshops over the years. Kenneth in turn has been teaching this style of green wood post and rung chair making to beginning woodworkers since 2004.
This project is a wonderful introduction to a straightforward and simple form of chair making,
it teaches foundational techniques and skills that are used in making more advanced chairs and furniture. We recommend that students start with this class before they build the Welsh Windsor chair.
The post and rung chair design is called a ladder-back because the back slats resemble the rungs of a ladder. It has also been called a mule ear because the tips of the back posts are reminiscent of ears. Chairs of this design were an inspiration to the Shakers who appreciated their utilitarian simplicity and lack of ornamentation.
The workshop begins with students learning how to select green logs and then to rive (or split) chair parts with a froe and club. Because we will be working with a freshly felled tree, this type of green woodworking offers a direct connection to the materials used and to an older, more sculptural way of working wood.
The riven posts (chair legs) and rungs are shaped with a draw knife and a spoke shave on a shave horse. Rear posts are steam bent onto a form to create the proper curve for the chair back. Rectangular mortises are chopped into the air dried posts with a mortising chisel, and cylindrical mortises are drilled by hand. Tenons are sized and cut on the rungs by hand. We take advantage of dissimilar moisture content between the air dried posts and the kiln dried rungs to help guarantee a tightening of the joinery from natural shrinkage of the wood as it dries. To complete the chair, the seat is woven with colorful cotton webbing called “Shaker Tape”. Finally, the back slats are shaped, fitted and eventually pinned in place with small wooden dowels. Tool use, safety and sharpening will be thoroughly demonstrated and wood finishing will be addressed.
Students will have their red oak chairs assembled and the seats woven by the end of our class time. Oiling or finishing the wood and pinning the back slats will need to be completed after the end of the workshop, once the chair has thoroughly dried.
7. Hand Hewn Greenwood Bowl Carving - 4 day class - this class is FULL (3.9.22)
August 1st to 4th
exertion level 2+, materials fee: $20
$520 + $20 = $540 total
We’ll delve into the reductive process in our Greenwood Bowl Carving class and learn how satisfying the process of carving out a bowl from a rough section of a newly felled tree can be. Unlike lathe-turning, hewing a bowl by hand offers wider variation in terms of shapes and symmetry. We’ll use a froe to split the log, then an axe, adze, gouges, spoke shaves and slöjd knives to gradually refine the size and shapes of our wooden vessels. During this thorough four day class we will explore proper tree selection, layout and design, tool selection, various holding devices, decorative carving, wood finishing, and also edge tool use, care and sharpening.
Students will come away with a hand hewn bowl plus instructions on how best to dry them, as well as thorough information about the process and materials of oil finishing once their bowls have dried.
8. Coopering Small Wooden Buckets - 6 day class - this class is FULL
August 8th to 13th
exertion level 1, materials fee: $20
$ 780 + $20 = $800 total
Explore the art of coopering by making a classic wooden bucket in this six day class. Finished buckets will be about 10” diameter by 12” tall. This is one of the few projects at our school where we use wood that is air or kiln dried. Starting with roughed-out, air dried stock, we’ll carefully lay out the bevels and taper of the upright wall pieces, called staves, shaping the bevels with a large wooden jointers plane. The staves will be made of clear, vertical grain pine or cedar. We’ll use temporary metal hoops and a coopers draw-shave to roughly shape the inside of the staves into a curve. We’ll spend time refining the bevels until we achieve water-tight joints between all the staves. Small wooden pins are used for alignment once the bevels are completed. The inside of the joined staves will be finished into a smooth-walled, tapered cylinder using a curved sole compass plane. Next, a specialized tool called a croze is used to cut a dado which captures and houses the edge of the carved, kiln dried pine bottom. The final steps involve making and fitting hoops for the outside of the coopered bucket.
9. Bill Coperthwaite Democratic Chairs - 4 day class, 3 spots open
September 3rd to 6th
exertion level 1 - materials fee $15
$ 520 + $15 = $ 535 total
In this class we explore one of the ‘democratic’ designs (link to our blog entry here) of our friend and mentor, the late Bill Coperthwaite (link to insearchofsimplicity). In past years we've focused on the bench design but for 2022 we'll be building Bill's four-board chair.
An elegant and simple design, the four-board bench was the first thing that Bill instructed people to make at the beginning of one of his community yurt builds. Participants used them for many tasks, such as saw horses, stepping stools for reaching high places, taking a break and ultimately as furniture inside the completed yurt.
For those of us who knew Bill well, the bench design is an enduring reminder of our friend. We all seem to have a number of these benches around our homes and workshops. Many of us in our turn have shown others this design and led them in building these refined benches.
During this three day class, students will cut, shape and assemble their own democratic chair using just four wide pine boards and hand tools. Basic hand tool skills, layout, design, tool use and sharpening will all be taught.
10. Curtis Buchanan's Shaved Windsor Side chair - 8 day class - 1 spot open
September 12th to 19th
exertion level 3 - materials fee: $140
$1,040 + $140 = $ 1,180 total
This chair is called a “democratic” Windsor by its designer, Curtis Buchanan, due to his conscious plan to use a very limited selection of hand tools for building it. This keeps it more accessible to makers who don’t have a power lathe or a large collection of tools at their disposal, and it also highlights and encourages hand tool woodworking skill building.
The graceful side chair has an air-dried white pine seat with riven, red oak spindles, posts & legs. Students will split, rive and carve some of their chair parts from start to finish beginning with a green log during the class, in order to demonstrate and learn the entire process. This course is our longest one though, totaling eight days, but the chair would take at least two weeks to build if some of the preparation were not done for students. Most of the parts will be roughly shaped and air dried ahead of time. It’s a very full and nicely challenging eight days even so.
This class demands a high level of drawknife skill as we shape complex concave curves by eye - this means that it’s our most skill intensive class and demands a lot of attention and focus.
- chair legs and undercarriage are shaped with a drawknife
- the seat is sculpted/shaped with an adze, inshave and drawknife
- leg & post mortises shaped with a tapered reamer
- steam bend the crest from a piece of green riven red oak, then shape it and fit it to the chair
- posts, spindles and steam-bent crest all shaped with a drawknife
- bore the mortises for the upper part of the chair and finally, assembly of the chair
Students leave with an assembled/completed chair that’s ready for milk paint and oil finish at home.
We’re grateful that Curtis invited Kenneth to Tennessee in 2019 to learn how to make this chair and we acknowledge his support as we’ve added this Windsor to our offerings here at the craft school.
We appreciate this chair because it fits well into the vernacular chairmaking tradition. We carve, shave or whittle all of the parts of this chair with hand tools, and these skills are a wonderful alternative to the predominant lathe-turned chair.
This supports our vision and philosophy of offering hand tool oriented classes which all rely on the same core set of edge tools and skills. Thus these classes and skills offer more accessibility to craft for people with a limited selection tools and working space.
"Power machines are unfriendly for they are very noisy and make a lot of unpleasant dust.
Craft woodworking should be a creative activity, with the practitioners as artists.
Surrounded by ugly, noisy, dusty machines the woodworker does not have the environment in which to do good work."
- John Brown, chair maker