Too Cool For Hand Tool School? Not Me!!!

November 10, 2010

5 years ago I was told there was no way a podcast about woodworking would ever work, ESPECIALLY an audio only show! As far as I’m concerned, they were wrong. And considering the audio only feed for MBW Podcast still has the largest number of subscribers vs video only, I’d so many of you helped to prove them wrong too.

As far as I’m concerned I’m by no means a pioneer of anything. I’m just some guy who likes to talk and share his experiences with other people who enjoy woodworking as much as I do. If anyone has learned something from me that’s helped to make them a better woodworker, they probably should be thanking someone else for showing it to me in the first place.

I think in order to be a pioneer of something, you have to be willing to take a risk and put yourself out there to make a difference. And that’s exactly what my two co-hosts on Wood Talk Online Radio have done.

I think it’s safe to say were familiar with Marc Spagnuolo’s “The Woodwhisperer Guild” by now (if you’re not, where have you been?) The Guild was a huge gamble but it’s paid off for both Marc and quite easily the whole online woodworking community.

For the lack of a better description, I’d say The Woodwhisperer Guild experience is like having your shop teacher on standby 24/7. Except this shop teacher isn’t walking around screaming and yelling while wearing a blue lab coat with stains he claims aren’t blood, but considering he’s missing a couple of digits…they probably are.

Instead you have someone who knows how to answer your woodworking questions in a way that doesn’t leave you wishing you never opened your mouth, oh…and he can work the A/V equipment too!

If you’ve been sitting on the fence trying to decide if buying a Guild membership is worth it, let me answer that question for you. YES!!! I’d recommend trying it at least once, it’s money well spent…unlike those tools from Harbor Freight you bought when you first got started.

As if The Woodwhisperer Guild wasn’t enough for the online woodworking community we now have another great option for learning even more about our passion. My other co-host Shannon Rogers has recently started “The Hand Tool School”. It’s a virtual apprenticeship program for woodworkers who want to expand their hand tool skills or maybe just learn some!

The Hand Tool School has been up and running for a little while now, and I’m already a little bit behind on my attendance and projects. But after finally downloading the first lesson, I can’t wait to see how the rest of the semester will go. In fact I’m trying to clear my busy schedule so I can stay up to date (or at least not quite so far behind as I currently am) as new lessons and new projects are rolled out.

The Hand Tool School is setup much like a regular school, there are lectures and demonstrations and also lab work where the students are tasked with building projects that help to emphasize what was discussed. A model that works well for someone like myself, who can understand what’s being taught, but REALLY understands it better when there’s a practical application included.

I think the success of the school will come from the fact Shannon has set it up much like the way he’d want a class to be if he were attending. In other words, he understands what his audience is hungry for and can deliver it.

I could go on more about how much these two pioneers of online woodworking are shaping and carving out a niche that’ll leave a lasting impression on woodworkers now and in the future, but don’t take my word for it. Ask members who have already joined. Checkout their preview pages and of course don’t hesitate to ask either one of them about questions or concerns you have that may have you sitting on the fence about joining.

And if money is an issue (which is understandable these days), let’s put it in perspective. For far less than what you’d pay to drive or fly far away to attend one of the big woodworking schools, then also pay for lodging and food. You can purchase a membership at one or both of these resources and have access to projects, lessens, answers to your questions and of course conversations with like minded woodworkers all from the comfort of your own home.

Think about it, you could learn all about hand tools or building an one-of-a-kind Trestle Table from your easy chair while sitting in your boxer shorts (or naked) and no one would give you those nasty stares.

***Just for the record, I do have memberships to both “The Woodwhisperer Guild” and “The Hand Tool School”. Yes they were given to me, but that doesn’t change how much I stand behind both of them as leading resources for turning out better woodworkers!

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  1. John Verreault (aka Johnny_Vee) says:

    Hey Matt
    Great accolade for your buds and since I belong to both the Guild and am partaking of The Hand Tool School, I whole heartedly agree. Best educational money I have ever spent. Every aspiring woodworker should give either or both of them a go.

    Now I just have to get you to give your proof reader a smack — I believe you meant “lessons” not “lessens”. Both wonderfully useful words but definitely not interchangeable….sorry but I live with a grammarian who is wicked at Scrabble and would have me in the pillory if I didn’t mention it. LOL



    • Matt says:

      You say tomato I say salsa lol! For the record it was almost Midnight when I wrote this, so I’m amazed I spelled anything correctly.

      But I meant every word (misspelled or not). Glad to hear you enjoy these also, they’re a great resource. I just wish I’d beat them to the idea 😉

      • John Verreault (aka Johnny_Vee) says:

        What!!?? And give up your day job? LMAO (in full agreement)
        Just think, if it wasn’t the INTERNET you could open up a branch guild or school… c’est la vie mon ami.

  2. Shannon says:

    Wow, thanks Matt. To be lumped in with Marc is an honor and it is pleasure to have you participating. I’m sure you can teach me a few things too, which is what is so exciting about this format. The member interaction is a lot of fun. Now stop talking and do your homework!

    • Matt says:

      Imagine that…a Vanderlist being told by the teacher to be quiet and pay attention! Not like I haven’t heard that before.

      You deserve all the credit, The Hand Tool School is a great idea!

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