Introducing me to you all
Hi everybody. My name is Oz, I am a woodwork teacher for visually impaired and other disabled people at Queen Alexandra College in Birmingham, England. I have been doing this for nearly 5 years. Prior to this I was in the IT industry for 30 years. I really got hooked on working with wood when my grandfather showed me how to make a cage for a guinea pig when I was about 7.
More recently I worked on a formal qualification in furniture making at the University Of Central England.
3 years ago my wife and I moved to a small town on the River Severn in Worcestershire (pronounced woostersher) built in Victorias reign, and rather sadly depleted. My most recent work has been to design and build new cupboards for the kitchen. The cupborads are made of 18mm plywood, and the faceframes, doors, end panels and drawersides are all European Oak. I will get some piccies to show you. The project has taken about 10 months – and it is not a big kitchen, so I must be slow.
I started taking FWW about 6 years ago, and I love it. I am always amazed at the quality of work that you guys produce.
My machines are mostly modern, and lightweight – except for a Wadkin tablesaw built in the 60’s and popular at the time in schools and colleges. I use hand tools a lot, and these are mostly old ones bought at tool-meets (so I am a certified galoot). I operate in the garage, and the cars have to stay outside when I am working on a big project.
At the college, I am forced into teaching the students how to operate machines, work as teams etc. rather than woodwork (funders won’t pay for it), so I have to sneakily show the interested ones how to cut dovetails, use shoulder planes, lay veneers and all the other good stuff. A bit frustrating, but it helps pay the mortgage until I retire.
All the periodicals and web based info from the USA seems to suggest that hand crafted furniture is growing in popularity, and the providors are becoming more numerous, and their skills advancing. This does not appear to be the case here – there is, I believe, a core of buyers who will pay the premium for handcrafted items, but it appears to be small, and I suspect located largely in the London area. Around here, lots of people want high quality stuff, but will not pay for it. Your comments would be appreciated.
Well that’s about it from me, I look forward to discussions with you guys, and hope to learn a lot. Take care, everybody.
I lived in Brecon Mid wales for 7 years and made furniture for most of a living. Established the Brecon Craft Fair mainly as a sales venue for my work ... rebuilt a terrace house ... had a couple of kids (neither of whom will ever play for Wales ... or New Zealand for that matter) and then moved back to NZ.
Welcome to the forum!
If you need any advice, you'll get it in spades here!
0.06% of the world's people are Kiwis
Nice to meet you, Malcolm. I will give your regards to the Beacon.
Welcome to the forum. I'm sure you'll find lots of useful things here. It has become a very useful tool for me, and I know for many others out there as well.
My wife is from the midlands, not far from Birmingham. I was born and educated in the US, but both of us are far from home, living and working in Israel. So I really appreciate the easy connection that Knots allows. Hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do.
best of luck,
Good to meet you, Ring.
Your wife is obviously a fine upstanding lady of enormous strength of character and good breeding! Give her my regards from the 'old country'.
Welcome, Oz. Good to have you here. Like its been said, there's a wealth of information in here, so enjoy. And don't be scared to share your knowledge, we can all learn from each other.
I'm in the US, born and raised in FL. Yes, handcrafted furniture seems to be getting more popular, and there is a lot of people with a lot of money they're willing to part with, but our job is to show them why what we make is better than what they can buy at a store. Too much cheap stuff that passes off as standard quality is sold today, that will not be around ten years from now. We must be able to show how our products will stand up to years of use, unlike what they may have been purchasing. I don't know how it is there, but it seems you would have that same problem to deal with.
Anyway, jump on in, the water's fine.
I hail from Portland, Oregon in the US. The thing I love about these forums is the scope of the people that make it up. We are a good cross section from all over the world, US UK, NZ, SoAfrica, Australia, Isreal, Canda , Mexico and so many other places. So many differant views, abilities and disiplines, from new amatuer to master craftsmen in the business for over 30 years. Except for the ocassional spat we are all willing to offer help to each other and seek others help in our quest for better ways to work with natures beautiful woods. It bring tears to my eyes just thinking of how much you all mean to me....LOL
I have to wholeheartedly agree with creekwood. The hardest problem is convincing the client why the ikea or other mass produced item, that looks so nice, is not equal to the quality and durability of what you are selling for so much more. Pointing out things like a nice fitting dovetail joint vs a stapled one or poorly made machine one and the fit and finish of the pieces and the type and quality of the wood(s) used helps. you can spend a loooong time educating your clients, but once convinced, they often produce other jobs for themselves and thru word of mouth referances (they love to brag about the quality of their purchase to others in their financial circle).
Once again, welcome.
Rick1 - measure the board twice, 2 - cut it once, 3 - measure the space where it is supposed to go 4 - get a new board and go back to step 1
Good to meet you, and thanks for the support. I will be in touch.
Good to meet you, Creekwood. It is worrying - especially when you price up the timber, and it's double the RRP of a similar, completed, varnished item. As you say, though, some folks have the bucks. I will persist.......
Welcome and thanks for adding a new word to my vocabulary
(so I am a certified galoot)
What is a "galoot" exactly? :-)
BTW I'm on the other side of the pond in "New" England (Massachusetts and I live near Worcester (pronounced woster)
Measure it with a micrometer, mark it with chalk, cut it with an ax.
Visit Dust Maker
I believe the origin came on this website. As I understand it, a number of people were discussing the virtues of the Stanley scraper plane, and decided that they each HAD to have one. A friendly second hand tool dealer (it might have been Patrick Leach) suddenly found himself inundated with requests for this noble tool. His response was along the lines of 'What the hell is it with you galoots?'
Hence the title.
Cheers - good to meet you.
From Roget's thesaurus, galoot is a slang synonym for fool, along with chump boob sap klutz dingbat etc.
I've heard it mostly in old western movies; "Why, you old galoot, you couldn't hit the broad side of a barn door with that ole pistol!"
I thought that was supposed to be "Bumingum"?
You obviously have experience of the West Midlands area of the United Kingdom!
Good to meet you.
Your story is an inspiration. I, too, have been in IT for almost 30 years, and am just now beginning to get into woodworking. In fact, I'm signed up for my first class with the local technical college starting this fall. And I have my first ever table saw on order (Sawstop contractor), due by year end. My hope is to one of these years take the nine-month comprehensive at CFC in Maine, but that dream is a long way (and many, many dollars) away.
I'm in Wisconsin, by the way, and unlike most of the others here (it seems), I know nothing about England. :-)
I am a bear of very little brain, and long words bother me. -- Winnie-the-Pooh
Edited 7/28/2005 11:30 am ET by Jim
Good to meet you, Jim. I will be interested to hear how you fare with the Sawstop - it looks like a very intelligent piece of kit. Here in the UK the woodworking industry has the dubious honour of holding the worst safety record, and the tablesaw (they are generally called Dimension Saws here) is the major culprit. At last good sense prevails.
Welcome to the Forum Oz. I'm temporarily exiled in Texas for the next 2 years until I retire, then its back to home and shop in New Mexico. Your teaching assignments sound quite challenging when you aren't provided with the resources to formally teach the hands-on aspect of the subject matter. I'm sure your students appreciate your special efforts.
Doug, where are you from in NM? I am temporarily exiled to Portland from Las Cruces.1 - measure the board twice, 2 - cut it once, 3 - measure the space where it is supposed to go 4 - get a new board and go back to step 1
Ah, a kindred soul! We still have our home in Silver City and are looking forward to returning to our mountains, clear air, the friendliest people that I have ever met and reallllllly good Mexican cooking.
Sorry Oz, threads get "hijacked" all the time :-)
Edited 7/28/2005 3:20 pm ET by Doug
I get REAAAL sentimental in the autumn for the smell of roasting green chile frsh from the fields in Hatch. I used to go pick them and have them roasted there in the field after paying for them. and I also remember all of the stores having their own roasters for the sacks of chile they sold.
I also used to go camping and fishing up in willow creek - I nice place if you have never been there. I also use dto go on quick outings to lake roberts. My wife still has a friend who is now a DJ for the Silver City radio station.1 - measure the board twice, 2 - cut it once, 3 - measure the space where it is supposed to go 4 - get a new board and go back to step 1
The chile is something special when fresh-picked and roasted. I cycle the loop from Silver City, through the Mimbres Valley and and lake Roberts but haven't tried my hand at fishing the area. Hope you make it back there.
Good to meet you, Doug, and thanks for your support. I sure hope they do, and that II have been able to nurture seeds of interest and excitement in this most frustrating yet satisfying pastime.
That's funny that you mention a Wadkin.
There's one for sale at a shop near me.
What are your thoughts on that saw?
The one I saw was SOLID...nearly all
cast iron, but the fence seemed a little
old and dodgy.
Wadkin is a very respected name for woodworking machinery here. They are still a heavyweight, mostly for heavy commercial use. You could be right about the fence, mine is not great. Strangely, the lecturer on my furniture making course (that was a Wadkin as well, but a huge one) explained that the fence should only protrude as far as the bottom of the first or second gullet of the saw blade, the exit being held square by the riving knife. My saw is too old for a riving knife (raises and lowers with the saw blade), but does have a splitter which I use religiously. So, I guess what I am suggesting is that the fence will probably need to be modified - I simply cut a piece of beech about 12" long, 3" wide and 3/4" thick, bored a couple of holes in the fince, and cut slots in the beech to fit the two together with coach bolts (the heads are ressed into the beech) - this allows you to slide it back and forth as the blade height changes. If this sounds crap, let me know and I will try to explain a little better.
Welcome, Oz, it's great to have you here at Knots! Keep us posted on your projects! What with working at the college, it's not surprising it takes awhile to get the home-improvement projects finished. I hope the various Victorias find kind owners who can renovate them over time.
forestgirl -- you can take the girl out of the forest, but you can't take the forest out of the girl ;-)
Another proud member of the "I Rocked With ToolDoc Club" .... :>)
Hi Oz, and welcome to the board. I'm a retired Industrial Arts, Middle School(11 - 13 year olds) teacher with many years of experience. I've had 2 or 3 visually impaired students. Here's a few tricks I've found helpful... Use free-standing, hi-intensity task lights at machines and work-stations. The extra light can be helpful in many cases. Use a Xerox machine with a good 'bright white' paper for aything you give them to read. The extra contrast makes it work. Here in the USA, 'Lighthouse for the Blind' has many measuring tools with extra large markings. They will loan them to you if ASKED. Do you remember the DYMO tape writers?? They make special ones that will print Braille if needed. Have any of your students participated in regular woodworking classes while attending middle or high school (or the British equivelent)? I found that many visually handicapped students can work drill presses and scroll saws, so it is up to your judgement on how far you can 'push' them.
SawdustSteve Long Island, NY E of New York City
Thanks for the suggestions and help. I guess one of the problems is that visual impairement is not a simple problem - some have tunnel vision, some can see OK in sunlight but not in strip lighting, etc. etc. Also, most of our students have other problems as well, autism, learning difficulties, deafness etc. Makes the job a challenge!
I often let them use things like biscuit cutters (plate jointers?), orbital sanders, battery drills, but very few I would trust with an overhand planer or a tablesaw - I think guys look better with a full compliment of fingers. I do worry that the guys who can't get envious of the guys who can.
I'm bleating - thanks again for your kind suggestions.
Greetings and welcome Oz,
Before anything: a gentleman has asked about WADKIN in one of the responses to your post-don't be shy, go ahead and give him all information on this fine British breed.
In the past, in Zimbabwe where I come from,Wadkin was worshipped devoutly, and fortunate was the small operator or amateur who had any of this equipment.I think, for the benefit of the American brethren in the context of this post,it will suffice to say that the odd Oliver or similar item may just be able to hold a candle to Wadkin.(I am now on my way to my bunker in anticipation of an airstrike)
But before I go, I must attach pictures of my dog-a Rhodesian Ridgeback,of tremendous strength, intelligence,impeccable breeding and good looks-I named him Wadkin, with good reason.
I hope you enjoy the forum.
P.S. Folks-1000 apologies-I had to scan these from photos-the size is almost like what Duke used to post(!)-huge.But whatadog....
Thanks for your support.
Oz, I have seen mention of a bench dog and now Philip has cleared that for me. Nevertheless I still wonder how it is used?
Not like any of the "bench dogs" I see in the catalogs!
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." Gil Bailie
Dog guardin' that wood in the rafters?
welcome. i have been teaching a group of people with mental disabilities. at least that's a label that's been put on them. i found out two things: 1. i learn more from them than i teach, 2. we're all disabled in some way. it's just whether we admit it or realize it.
your post opened my eyes to how big this forum is, and how small the world is.
I am forced into teaching the students how to operate machines, work as teams etc.
Not that bad of a thing..
My Son-In-Law is a Professor in Child Education.. Ya out to hear HIM bitch about his so called growed' up students with at least a Masters!
EDIT!! OZ.. I forgot to say WELCOME!
Edited 7/29/2005 3:08 pm ET by Will George
Good to meet you, Will. Take care.
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