the animal's journal

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

@FC- Thanks! Good to hear about your experience. I think like you said it's just a matter of making it routine and more of a normal thing.

@sky- Port Townsend looks really cool. There is a wooden boat festival in the fall and what appears to be a strong culture of artists. Not to mention the surrounding natural features. A lot going on for a town with only 10k residents. It's in a rain shadow too so it only ends up getting ~13 inches of precip each year, while nearly everywhere else on the Olympic Peninsula is 7-8x that. It was on the ERE Cities list and I think Jacob was looking at it seriously for a while.

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Seppia
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Seppia »

Great stuff as usual!
Happy you’re enjoying the tomatoes. Caputo is an excellent choice for flour, however if you can find it this is considered to be the very best by many:
https://pizzastories.le5stagioni.it/en/ ... letana-red
Only for restaurants like Alta Cucina but worth the hunting.
Let me know if you need any help!
(Writing also here as maybe others can also find the info useful)

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Ego
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Ego »

theanimal wrote:
Mon Aug 01, 2022 2:06 pm
The plan now is to take it and head south after things settle down and stabilize with baby animal (ideally 4-6 weeks but we’ll see how things go). We are planning to travel south through Canada then through MT, ID, WY to Utah, then eventually over to family in Chicago for the holidays. We are loosely planning on spending just over 2 months on the road, with about half of that around southern Utah and northern Arizona.
Newlyweds move into a scamper with a newborn for an enjoyable winter road trip through Alaska, Canada and the Northern Rockies. Nothing to see here. Totally normal.

This kid is destined to have the hide of a rhinoceros.
theanimal wrote:
Mon Aug 01, 2022 2:06 pm
It seems like we are going to be spending almost all, if not the entire winter, out of Alaska. I was accepted/put on the wait list for a 3-month intensive woodworking class at a woodworking school in Port Townsend, WA.
Another Animals plot twist. Living lives chock full of adventure.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

Ego wrote:
Fri Aug 05, 2022 4:46 pm
Newlyweds move into a scamper with a newborn for an enjoyable winter road trip through Alaska, Canada and the Northern Rockies. Nothing to see here. Totally normal.

This kid is destined to have the hide of a rhinoceros.
Ha! I should note that it will be much colder if we just stay home. That's a perk of living in Alaska I guess, everyone else's winter is more like fall, spring or summer to us. In fact, when I first proposed the idea of the trip, Mrs. Animal was unsure about it. Not because of any conditions we'd face along the way or that it wouldn't be fun. But rather that baby animal would miss winter in AK and all the ensuing extreme cold/darkness that goes along with it, so she may be less tough later on as a result. It's statements like that how I know that Mrs. Animal is by far the best match for me. :lol:

-----

The school emailed late Thursday informing me I was accepted and offered me a spot in the course. I haven't told them anything yet but am planning on accepting.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

For some reason it never occurred to me that woodworking schools exist. Is it competitive to get into? What's the selection criteria? Geared towards producing professional woodworkers or amateurs or agnostic? Terribly expensive? Really looking forward to hearing about your experience there. The few small trainings I've taken (moto, wilderness first aid) were very enjoyable and I'm interested in more.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

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AxelHeyst wrote:
Wed Aug 10, 2022 8:42 am
For some reason it never occurred to me that woodworking schools exist. Is it competitive to get into? What's the selection criteria? Geared towards producing professional woodworkers or amateurs or agnostic? Terribly expensive? Really looking forward to hearing about your experience there. The few small trainings I've taken (moto, wilderness first aid) were very enjoyable and I'm interested in more.
It is a vocational school, so the ultimate goal is to train people to be skilled enough to do it for pay, whether that is one's own small woodworking business or another job in the field. This school in particular has three 3 month intensive wood working courses that build on each other with the goal of ending up with a well rounded skillset and understanding of hand tool woodworking, machine joinery and fine furniture design. From reading reviews, it seems like there's a mix of people who do it for amateur purposes to further their skillset and others who do it to advance their skills for job/career purposes. It's 9-5, 5 days/week for the 3 months. There are a max of 10 students per class with 2 instructors.

The application process was surprisingly very simple and outside personal info there were three questions.
1.Why are you interested in taking this 12 week intensive? What drew you to this course? What are you hoping to gain?
2. What else should we know about you? Share some fun stuff about yourself. What other experiences do you bring to the class?
3.[X School] values the dignity and diversity of all of our students. How would you contribute to a supportive classroom environment?

They aren't expecting essays, recommending 250-500 words for the first and up to 100 for the second. There was also a section to share photos or links to examples of things you have built before. There was no follow up interview, phone call or anything further. I applied a week after the regular enrollment period had closed and was told I was accepted and put on a waitlist about a week after applying. Another ~3 weeks later, I had been offered a spot.

It seems based on the process they are geared towards selecting people who have some woodworking base as well as evidence of completing projects and working on their own to solve problems and are interested in actively using the skills in the future. My understanding is that if you don't have any woodworking experience, the application process would be a little more involved, but wouldn't automatically rule you out and you would have to demonstrate examples of ways you've solved problems or things you've started on your own.

It is kind of expensive. $8400 for the 3 months. This seems to be about normal cost (if not slightly higher) for these types of programs from what I've seen elsewhere. This is the biggest downer for me and there is still part of my brain that is wondering if I'm being stupid by paying more than my current annual spending on this. Though in chatting with @mountainFrugal about this, he made the wise observation that optimizing for money is only deciding for one thing. There are scholarships, but primarily catered to those with low income and of diverse backgrounds. I think I saw for the scholarship that they wanted info about income from the past 2 years.

There are similar courses elsewhere in the country. Initially, I was looking
at this one in CA
prior to @mF suggesting this one. Some of the others combine all of their coursework into one longer course. The school in CA is 9 months long. As sky said, there is also a wooden boat building school in Pt. Townsend. I've also generally enjoyed courses I've taken so I am hoping that this one proves to be similar.

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mountainFrugal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by mountainFrugal »

The school in California is a REALLY good deal if you are a California resident (~$1200 tuition for 9 months). 9 months of 6 days a week time commitment though. There is generally less housing around Fort Bragg for a 9 month stint (could stay on forest land), but during the summer it gets harder with all the Nor Cal tourists. This could be the hidden cost of a longer stint in a relatively more expensive place. With out of state tuition and enrollment fees the 9 months comes out to ~12k. The focus is on cabinet making and furniture.

The Port Townsend school is more intensive in a lot of ways because you are making many more pieces in a 3 month period and they have additional weekend seminars that you can attend as an alumni that are much more specialized (e.g. Japanese hand tools, tiny homes, etc.). The school also has many people in the community that host attendees for cheap or allow RV hook-ups(pre-covid when I looked into this in depth).

To add a little more color to my point in my discussion with the @theanimal was only looking at the tuition cost (of either program) was not the perfect metric. If he was going to take either course and then never use the skills again, then it would not be worth it. However, I assume he would use the skills all the time and would likely get good enough to create cash yields from it, especially in a more rural place like Alaska where he can do more detailed woodworking of his own place, or sell pieces. The ROI for a specialist skills school like this is high for practical skills and small business potential. With instructors who have taught many students woodworking who are now working professionals in the field is a good indication that these types of programs deliver value outside of some sort of credential. I am not saying one cannot technically learn all this from Youtube, but if you have only basic skills, intensives can help level up very quickly. They also offer potential for developing relationships that could turn into longer term mentorships. These are very hard to replicate if doing the youtube only route.

edit: added tuition fees
Last edited by mountainFrugal on Wed Aug 10, 2022 1:13 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Slevin
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Slevin »

Entertainingly for the small size of these towns, both Port townsend and Fort Bragg are places I visit due to having friends / family in those towns. If I end up heading to Port Townsend early next year, you can be sure I'll be challenging you to a pizza bake off @theanimal. I also have a farming / tech friend couple up there I can connect you with if you are into tea / making delicious food.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by jacob »

In my pre-Chicago "I want to go to" PNW exploration days, I looked seriously at that school, specifically the boat building school. (Pt Townsend also has an annual wooden boat festival.) I believe I found the exact course you're talking about and I'd declare myself to be self-taught to roughly that level although I've done 95% of my work in pine, not hardwoods, because I'm cheap that way.

However, learning it on my own (mostly from books, Chris Schwarz mainly) took years as it was more of a puzzle to be solved along the way. It was very much like climbing a tech-tree w/o knowing exactly what the tech tree looked like. Just one puzzle after the other. To give an example, it was 5 years before I made my first cabinet with mitered dovetails and ship lapped backing. You'll be doing something like that in three weeks! :o

I get the impression that the fine woodworking community is very much a field of nerds looking to work with their hands as well ... very much like the sentiment in the Soulcraft book, i.e. think tank analyst turned mechanic, postdoc turned knick-knack box maker, mechanical engineer turned clock maker. Neanderthals in particular are a special breed. Because of the time required, it's practically impossible to make a living this way outside haute pieces. With machine tools, you can knock off a cabinet in maybe 3 hours. After the machines are dialed in repeating that process 10 times is not going to take much more time. However, with handtools, you're looking at 30 hours and no matter how many cabinets, it's always 30 hours per unit with each unit being ever so slightly different.

There's some "cheating" going on in Neanderthal world. For example, it takes me about 15 minutes to square a board with a handplane these days. When I started, it took 4x longer. Traditionally, the master relegated squaring boards to the apprentice. It's grunt work. Often people will get it square with a powered planer ... and then finish with a hand plane. I dream about owning a planer. Yet, that's 50 pounds of tools + the expense of blades or the hassle of sharpening, so it remains a dream. OTOH, going primitive is very good exercise ;-) If you're ripping boards with a handsaw, it's about 600kcal/hour. It goes without saying that it's tough to turn that into an 8 hr per day practice: A 5000kcal/day performance is close to professional athletics. Yet, if that's your only option as an apprentice, you better do or die. Best account for the additional potatoes eaten.

The DIY approach also comes w/o the connections. After learning how to make snazzy stuff, I kinda lost interest and reverted to "good enough" approaches. I basically give my nice stuff away as gifts (I've sold one piece), but for myself I just do "good enough". I suppose it's a bit like a chef cooking fancy dinners at work but eating microwaved pizza at home.

I'm curious to see if the social/connective aspect would change that aspect for you. Seriously curious. Because insofar I'm ever getting into metal work, maybe I shouldn't apply the usual strategy of learning it myself. $8000 would be well spent for the fast-forward and the potential connections.

From an ERE perspective, the Normite (power tools) approach is tricky. ffj is mostly a Normite. Too bad his journal is gone. But for each powertool---you need some 5-7 of them---you're looking at 50-500 pounds for each piece of machinery; whereas a full Neanderthal workshop is <50lbs total.

PS: I still have your bow sitting in my basement. After you've finished the course, maybe you'd like to finish the bow :)

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Ego
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Ego »

theanimal wrote:
Wed Aug 10, 2022 11:34 am
This is the biggest downer for me and there is still part of my brain that is wondering if I'm being stupid by paying more than my current annual spending on this.
Once upon a time these were the skills a person would learn by helping their carpenter parent (Back in High School I worked for a carpenter friend who learned this way) or do an apprenticeship. Maybe there is an apprenticeship for this type of carpentry somewhere in the US (?) but it would be a long process and would likely involve lots more lugging than learning. If NOLS is any indication, you would get a ton out of those three months.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by jacob »

Ego wrote:
Wed Aug 10, 2022 3:26 pm
Maybe there is an apprenticeship for this type of carpentry somewhere in the US (?) but it would be a long process and would likely involve lots more lugging than learning.
I think this really depends on whether the "master" needs to make a profit or not. If not, the people "in the know" tend to be more than happy---in fact overly happy---to recognize a fellow seeker and teach them all they know. The hard part is finding and connecting. Discovery.

"Lugging" can be attributed to both "proving that you're actually worthy of instruction" and "getting taken advantage off for cheap labor". It remains an unsolved problem to tell that difference and to make the appropriate connections.

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mountainFrugal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by mountainFrugal »

I learned the basics from my dad who was a trim/finish carpenter. He also did many fine woodworking projects, but never taught me any of that mainly because he was making stuff to sell/trade/gift and I would slow him down. haha. Outside of these specialized projects, he was pretty hardcore about the "good enough" attitude that Jacob mentioned, so I learned that as well. I will second Ego, you will be doing more Go-For type stuff than fine woodworking if you apprentice most places in the US.

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Ego
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Ego »

I just thought of another possible option. Continuing education courses. We have several incredible programs here that are free except for a small materials fee. https://sdcce.edu/job-training/skilled-technical-trades

The plumber we use hires directly from this program and does not provide any additional training at all. Unfortunately there is not a carpentry program here but maybe some other city or state provides one. The continuing education welding program is much like a modern apprenticeship program and is funded by local ship builders. Is there a place where lots of carpenters are needed? Maybe they have something similar.

That said, I am not trying to talk you out of your current choice. Just spitballing.

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Re: the animal's journal

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mountainFrugal wrote:
Wed Aug 10, 2022 12:36 pm
The Port Townsend school is more intensive in a lot of ways because you are making many more pieces in a 3 month period and they have additional weekend seminars that you can attend as an alumni that are much more specialized (e.g. Japanese hand tools, tiny homes, etc.). The school also has many people in the community that host attendees for cheap or allow RV hook-ups(pre-covid when I looked into this in depth).
The school now also offers housing available on campus. $1000/mo for private room and $500/mo shared. There is a list of people in the community who offer housing to students as well, with prices generally ranging from $600-1000/mo. We are planning on staying in our Scamp at a nearby campground in town unless we discover a better option.
Slevin wrote:
Wed Aug 10, 2022 12:58 pm
If I end up heading to Port Townsend early next year, you can be sure I'll be challenging you to a pizza bake off @theanimal. I also have a farming / tech friend couple up there I can connect you with if you are into tea / making delicious food.
You're on! I'll be there from January-March. And thanks, I like food and tea, it'd be great to meet more people in the area.
jacob wrote:
Wed Aug 10, 2022 1:18 pm
Thanks for sharing. I figured from gleaning your posts that you have reached the equivalent level but I didn't know the total time involved. That makes a difference! My hesitation mainly stems from the idea that it's possible to do it myself more or less because I knew that you had done it. That said, I think it would end up being the same kind of thing that you ran into, lots of fumbling around in the dark and slow, incremental progress with plenty of uncertainty. The primitive side appeals to me much more than the machinist side. I'll have to see how that progresses throughout the course. Their next intensive course is a blend of both (machinist and hand tools), but like you I don't have much interest in having a large collection of heavy tools.
jacob wrote:
Wed Aug 10, 2022 1:18 pm
: I still have your bow sitting in my basement. After you've finished the course, maybe you'd like to finish the bow :)
Ha! I was wondering what ended up happening to that. I'll have to finish that, I still have the interest in making a wooden bow.
Ego wrote:
Wed Aug 10, 2022 3:26 pm
Maybe there is an apprenticeship for this type of carpentry somewhere in the US (?) but it would be a long process and would likely involve lots more lugging than learning. If NOLS is any indication, you would get a ton out of those three months.
The substack post you made in your journal the other day seems like the ideal scenario of the apprenticeship/mentor model. The guy started building a timber frame shed(?) without knowing anything and his neighbor happened to walk up, have a ton of experience timber framing and the desire to be a mentor. That seems really rare. I'm sure like @jacob suggested, there are plenty of people who would be interested in mentoring. Finding them is the tricky part. Maybe the continuing education route is another way to find those people. Thanks for sharing the resources, I'll look around and see what I can turn up.

I am looking forward to doing the course. Like NOLS, it's hard to see the benefits and opportunities beforehand that this will open up when it seems more like a black box from my current position. NOLS was certainly worth every penny, hopefully this is the same.

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Re: the animal's journal

Post by candide »

jacob wrote:
Wed Aug 10, 2022 1:18 pm
OTOH, going primitive is very good exercise ;-) If you're ripping boards with a handsaw, it's about 600kcal/hour.
I've always thought that the tired feeling I got from sawing was all in my head. Though I would take my breaks, I would through a lot of negative self talk about how weak I am. I would still take the breaks, since making things has always been a hobby I have pursued for pleasure since I have started it, but the exasperation with myself would still be there.

Related, only a few days ago I learned how to use a jigsaw properly. I thought the reason it bounced on me was because I was just not holding it strong enough, and that YouTubers who were working with a jigsaw and making nice things were just real men with real strength. I now know that the problem was I didn't understand that the cutting edge is the only real pivot point and that I was forcing the damn thing forward with too much pressure.

If you think all of this reflects on how I was raised, you would be correct.


@theanimal

Courtesy apology for hijacking your journal.

I think it is awesome -- like a hotdog! -- that you are going to acquire resilient skills (no grid needed) that will also be just beautiful. Pura vida, mi amigo.

I was walking today and had a stray thought that you are my higher WL role model. I try to think "what would theanimal do?"

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