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I’ve said it here before, but I think it bears repeating. One of the best ways to improve your woodworking is to get together with other woodworkers. While classes are probably the best way to do this, with local woodworking clubs coming in a very close second, even just going over to a fellow woodworker’s shop and farting around in the shop, trading ideas and methods can greatly accelerated one’s learning curve. You don’t need to have an organized local club to do this. Just find another woodworker who lives near you and get together with them. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn in a short time, even from someone with completely different work habits and methods than you.
This weekend, our CJWA William & Mary bible box build group had our second meeting to continue working on our boxes. After the last meeting at my shop, the group all did a great job dovetailing their boxes together in preparation for this meeting. For our second gathering, we met at Frank’s shop and discussed different veneering methods, past and present, how hot hide glue works, and how to prepare commercial veneer. We then demonstrated how to prepare the glue and how to hammer veneer the burl to our box fronts. Before veneering our boxes, everyone took a turn hammer veneering a practice piece, even a nine year old (whom I might add was the most confident of the group and did an awesome job). Then we all finished up the day’s work by hammer veneering our boxes. I’m happy to say that everyone left for home with a perfectly veneered box front, ready for rabbets and banding.
So even if you don’t have an organized club that is close to you, don’t let that stop you from getting the benefits of learning from other woodworkers. Nothing beats first hand, in person experience. I’m sure everyone has at least one other woodworker who lives within a reasonable drive. If you do have a local organization you can get involved with, then don’t hesitate to do so. You are guaranteed to learn from the wide range of knowledge that the members of every organization have. Even if the other members don’t use the work methods that you do (I don’t know too many people who work like me), you will still learn and grow as a woodworker. Not to mention, you will make some great friends along the way!