First and foremost in our minds is the subject of safety. We work in an inherently dangerous environment where permanent injury is an absolutely serious and ever-present reality. Our methods have been developed from many years of experience and they work. We have never had a student injure themselves seriously in fifteen years of operation.
We will teach you unique and repeatable methods to be safe here in our shop and in your own. Beyond learning by rote, we will explain the theory behind our methods and why they are the safest possible.
As a professional woodworker that actually does this for a living rather than only teaching it, my approach to woodworking is very heavily machine oriented. My approach is to get the job done by the fastest most efficient, "practical" means possible. This does not mean that one needs to spend tens of thousands of dollars to equip a shop. An initial $2,000 investment for home workshop tooling and machinery can do the job very handsomely, so my focus really is on the word "practical". Every shop obviously needs hand tools and I indeed use these traditional tools every day in my regular studio work. However, I believe very strongly that we have a great deal of modern technology available to us and it seems counter productive to not take advantage of it. Yes, it is true that one is able to start a fire with the ancient method of friction using a bow, a cord, a dowel, and one heck of a lot of physical exhaustion. We can also start the same fire by striking a match and have the same result in seconds. The end result is still "fire" and it will look the same, act the same, and warm us just as well regardless of the method used to produce it. I feel the same way about woodworking. There is nothing wrong with using the tools the colonials may have used but to do so with the notion that the end result is better and of a higher quality through the sole use of these traditional hand tools is invalid. We live in the machine age, I honor the past, but I do not chose to relive it.
It is our goal not only to teach you how to do any particular task, but why we do it.
In each class, the daily mix consists of intensive lecture, demonstration, and student practice activities. Lecture periods are interactive, informative, and intensive but are also an enjoyable experience. Generally each joinery and fabrication process is demonstrated in a multitude of ways to achieve the same results. For example, processes are first demonstrated with the sole use of hand tools. Next the same joint or procedure is done with simple hand held power tools such as the router. Then the entire process is demonstrated with stationary equipment such as the table saw, drill press, and mortiser. Students choose whatever production method works best for them and how they either plan to equip their home workshop and/or work around their existing home tooling.
Our class focuses as much on the material as our methods of working it. Wood is an extremely unique material, but it can be predictable if you know how to read the grain. Many students remark that they will never look at wood the same again.
The alumni of the JD Lohr School of Woodworking come from many backgrounds. What unites us all is a passion in working with wood and a desire to reach out to our fullest potential.
Many of our students are nearing retirement and looking for a hobby to inspire themselves in their next chapter. Others are young people, searching for a glimpse at a unique and rewarding career in woodworking. Some are working adults looking to hone their weekend warrior woodworking skills.
We have hosted men and women from across the United States and international students from the UK, France, South America, Turkey, and Africa.
The skill level of our students is quite variable. Some of our students are completely green beginners, while we've also hosted folks like the president of a cabinet shop that makes built-in cabinetry for some of the swankiest apartments in New York City. No matter your skill set, there is a lot to be learned at the Lohr School of Woodworking.
The camaraderie that we experience with each class is truly what makes this such a wonderful learning environment. Students from varying skill levels, age groups, and backgrounds all help one another open their eyes to new ideas, methods, and techniques. Many students have kept in touch over the years, forming their own clubs, sharing ideas, and helping each other out long after the class has ended.