Education and Classes

Please note:

  • Non-member class fees include the annual Guild membership in the cost. 

  • Liability Waivers plus Equipment Operation and Safety Training should be completed before the start of class. 

Designing and Building Chairs with Jeff Miller - 4/29/2017
This is a two day demonstration class that will be Saturday, April 29, 2017 and Sunday, April 30, 2017. Attendees will have the opportunity to build their own chair in a group class at a later date for no additional fee other than the cost of materials of their choice.

The challenge of designing and then of making a chair is really at the pinnacle of woodworking. A successful chair needs to be structurally sound in the face of both normal use and fairly common abuse. It needs to be comfortable for a wide range of people who might sit in it. And ideally, it should be visually interesting as well.

How do you begin to satisfy all of these requirements? Jeff Miller has been designing and building chairs for almost 30 years now, and has taught and written extensively about the subject. His approach to chairmaking will demystify the process, and show you how to go about  coming up with a design and then successfully building it. The techniques he’ll cover will enrich your non-chair woodworking as well.

Jeff will talk about chair comfort, the standard measurements that will keep you on track, and then ways to customize your chair so you can explore making it even more comfortable. The basic structural requirements, and the various approaches to satisfying those requirements are critical to building a chair that will stand up to use. And then we’ll look into the visual elements that  can contribute to a visually successful design.

The construction process for chairs varies widely with the type of chair you’re looking to make. Jeff will demonstrate the basics of how to cut and smooth curved parts, an essential chairmaker’s skill. Because good joinery is so critical to a chair that will last, he will demonstrate how to cut different types of angled mortise and tenon joinery using a variety of methods - from cutting by hand, to using a router, tablesaw, and bandsaw. There are also a few different ways to deal with joinery on curved parts. Chairs also need reinforcement of the joints, and we’ll cover different ways to do this. He'll cover how wood choice and wood-grain issues affect the strength of the chair, and strategies for getting around some of the usual problems with the wood. Lamination and bending of parts will be discussed as well.

Visual appeal is also important to a successful chair design, and Jeff will discuss the relationship of the body to the chair (as well as working with curves derived from the body to enhance the design), the cultural importance of the chair, and referencing older styles as you develop your own ideas. Designing an object that will be viewed from all sides will be considered, as will some of the visual aspects of wood and grain choice.

 

Jeff Miller turned to designing and making furniture after a career as a classical musician. His furniture has been in shows around the country, has won numerous awards, and is in the collection of the Chicago History Museum. Jeff is a prolific writer: his most recent book is The Foundations of Better Woodworking (Popular Woodworking Books). His book, Chairmaking and Design (Linden Publishing) won the Stanley Award for Best How-To Book of 1997 (and his companion video Chairmaking Techniques won best video as well). He has also written the books, Beds, and Children’s Furniture and has contributed chapters to Furniture for All Around the House, and Storage Projects for All Around the House, all for The Taunton Press. Jeff is currently working on a practical guide to furniture design, to be released by Lost Art Press. He is a frequent contributor to Fine Woodworking and Popular Woodworking magazines. A video on how to build a Chippendale Chair will be released this spring by Lie-Nielsen Toolworks, joining Jeff’s other videos from both Fine Woodworking and Popular Woodworking. Jeff teaches at woodworking schools, conferences, and guilds all across the country.

 

Woodworking Fundamentals Class with Ray Ziegler - 3/4/2017
Please Note: This class is not accepting new members at this time. A new class is in the planning stages for the Fall of 2017. Stay tuned!

We have been asked to do a beginner woodworking class by many members. In response to that request we are doing what we are calling a woodworking fundamentals class.  This class will certainly help beginners, but will also be of value to all woodworkers that want more information to improve the results of their projects.

This demonstration class is based on a Fine Woodworking article and video by Michael Pekovich, “Making a Table from One Board”.  We will follow his concept and expand upon it to suit our needs.  The class will include:

  • Design concepts
  • Wood selection for the parts of the project
  • Stock preparation:
    • Re-sawing
    • Getting the stock square 4 sides
    • Sticking
  • Final sizing
  • Joinery - I will be demonstrating several joinery techniques to attach the aprons to the legs including, Pocket screws, Dowels, Domino, and Mortise and Tenon.
  • Shaping Techniques:
    • Tapering Legs using the table saw, band saw, and joiner
    • Beading on the apron
    • Adding curves to the apron
  • Table top glue-up
  • Assembling the table

The class should last four sessions and will be held on the first Saturday of the month.  On the third Saturday after the Guild meeting I am having a Fundamentals Workshop for those who are taking the class.  During the workshop you can get hands-on help for anything that we covered in class or you can build a table using the techniques taught in class.  There is no extra charge for the workshop, just the cost of materials if you build a table.

Class Schedule - The Saturday classes will be from 9:00am until 3:00pm.  The Saturday Workshops will be from 12:00pm until 3:00pm.

Saturday Class                       Saturday Workshop
3/4/17                                      3/18/17
4/1/17                                      4/15/17
5/6/17                                      5/20/17
6/3/17                                      6/17/17

The fee for the class is $50. You must be a member in good standing to attend. You may pay using PayPal on the website or the first day of class. Please respond via email at education@alabamawoodworkersguild.org with your name if you plan to take the class.