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Designing a Greenwood Woodworking curriculum  RSS feed

 
jesse markowitz
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So in this thread Paul outlines his idea of making a Pep1 list. The list is basically a guide to get anyone from a complete beginner to the equivalency of a bachelor's degree in permaculture and homesteading.

We are in the middle of designing the categories for the list and the tasks that will be in each category. Here is what I have so far for the greenwood list, listed easiest to most difficult, at least in my mind-

Greenwood Woodworking
make 50 shakes with a froe and wooden mallet
make 5 wooden mallets out of a single piece of wood
make 5 wooden mallets out of 2 pieces of wood
Create a wooden mallet within half an hour
grind and hone 5 hand tools to shaving sharpness using only sharpening stones/sand paper
carve a spoon using hand tools only
make three greenwood benches or tables without any screws or nails used for joinery
make a pole-lathe
Bodger 4 chair legs using your pole lathe
make 5 bowls using your own pole lathe
Create a shaving horse without any screws or nails used for joinery
Make two different types of chairs (ladder back, bow back, comb back) out of greenwood without any screws or nails used for joinery



Are there any projects out there that I'm forgetting about? Any other tasks that you feel need to be added to the list in order for someone to be considered a professional with greenwood? Any advice or suggestions from the community would be great.

Thanks!
 
Peter Ellis
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Not sure where you are going with this. How are you defining greenwood professional?
I don't see discussion of how to select your wood, which I think would need to be the very first thing to know. Next is how to store it and the time line of your work process. Peter Follansbee covers this well in his blog.
Your curriculum seems narrow, to me.
I would suggest hewing as an important element. I would think that fence construction and basic timber framing would be important pieces for a homesteader.
Basketry would be another piece I think would be helpful in a green wood working survey course.
Building boxes and chests is a skill worth learning and very different from chair construction.
Along with sharpening tools (so important) learning to make tool handles would be useful.
Wood turning is an entire craft on its own
Unclear why so much emphasis on making wooden mallets - really pretty simple and since they do break down not much point in putting loads of time into them.
Wooden hay forks and rakes are another good homesteader skill.
Huge subject, so many facets
 
Penny Dumelie
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Somewhere in there I would consider adding something about learning the different types of joins, when to use each type, and how they work/how to make them.
As someone who knows almost nothing about this topic, other than what I have seen on chairs and the like we own, I would need to learn this before constructing any furniture. Or maybe there is a chair pattern that can be followed somewhere that would incorporate the most common joins (learn while doing)?
 
Peter Ellis
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I think this might be a good thread to cross. Post into the PEP/PEX forum, so people reading there will find the discussion, as well as those who come across it here.

Picking up from Jesse's comments in the PEP1 thread, regarding the sequence for these tasks.

I have not yet tried to spilt shakes, but I have built a shaving horse. Part of why I have not tried to split shakes is that it is actually pretty tricky .

Probably the very first thing for a green woodworker to build is a shaving horse. Why? Because it uses several of the skills you will need throughout a green woodworking career, it is not a very difficult project, and it is a very fundamental tool for the green wood worker.

Of course, the shaving horse has that name because you shave wood on it, with a drawknife or a spoke shave. Which means being able to use those tools should be high on the list for green wood working skills.

Some of the classic green wood working joins require specialized tools. Chair legs, for example, are typically joined to the seat with a conical taper on the leg and corresponding conical hole in the chair seat. The taper on the leg can be made with careful drawknife or spokeshave work, or with a tapered tenon cutter. The hole in the chair can be made by drilling an appropriate size hole and then reaming it to the conical shape with a home made tool, or they can be purchased to match the tapered tenon cutter. Once the pieces fit as near perfectly as possible, the leg tenon may have a slot cut into the end, where a wedge will be driven when the tenon is back in place in the chair. When driving the wedge, it makes a difference how the grain of the tenon and the seat are aligned. This is because you are working with green wood, which will shrink and will shrink differently along the grain versus across the grain.

Point being that making a greenwood chair that will really work and hold up requires some specialized knowledge and skill.
Sorry, I am repeating myself a bit, aren't I?
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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"chop wood...carry water"

Please forgive me...the Elders in my old head began a yell'n...I just had to say it...

I can not tell you how much I love what you are trying to do Jesse...I think it is just awesome, and I am here for whatever you think you can pull out of my old head. I would suggest actually progressive steps...as the list thus far is really "choppy" (sorry I did it again...) and not in the order...remember..."chop wood...carry water." Think on this and your list will reshape itself in your mind...

Peter...I have nothing to add at this time...you did it already...
 
Burra Maluca
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Peter Ellis wrote:I think this might be a good thread to cross. Post into the PEP/PEX forum, so people reading there will find the discussion, as well as those who come across it here.



I've added this thread to the PEX / PEP1 forum so anyone browsing either forum will find it.
 
jesse markowitz
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Thanks everyone for the input!

I'd also like to make a resource list that accompanies the curriculum.

What books/dvds/youtube videos/whatever would be useful for hopeful PEP1'ers to draw from while trying to complete this list?

Here's what I have so far:

Books-
Green Woodworking- Mike Abbott
The Woodland Way, Living in a Wood in the 21st Century- Ben Law
Sweedish Carving Techniques- Willie Sundqvist

DVDs/TV-
17th Century New England Carving- Peter Follansbee
The Woodwright's Shop- Roy Underhill

Websites-
Lost Art Press
bodgers.org
Fine Woodworking
 
jesse markowitz
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Peter, thanks for all the guidance.


I don't see discussion of how to select your wood, which I think would need to be the very first thing to know. Next is how to store it and the time line of your work process. Peter Follansbee covers this well in his blog.


Yes, that does seem really important. But how exactly would we incorporate that into the list? That seems like something that should be a prerequisite.


Updated list, white belt level:
whittle a spoon out of greenwood
Weave a chair bottom
Make a melon basket out of twigs
Create 10 feet of wattle fence, at least 3 feet high

make a shaving horse
make 3 tapered wooden handles using your shaving horse

make a pole-lathe
make 5 bowls using a pole lathe
Bodger 4 chair legs using your pole lathe

grind and hone 5 hand tools to shaving sharpness using only sharpening stones/sand paper

make 5 wooden mallets out of a single piece of wood
make 5 wooden mallets out of 2 pieces of wood

make 50 shakes with a froe and wooden mallet
shape 50 shakes with a drawknife and/or axe

cooper a bucket that can hold water

Make two different types of chairs (ladder back, bow back, comb back, etc) out of greenwood without any screws or nails used for joinery
Make 4 rounded tenon joints that effectively dry into its mortise
make three greenwood benches or tables
 
jesse markowitz
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As for advanced belts go, I was thinking of adding in building a steam bending box, and incorporating projects that would use steam bending.

I didn't want to incorporate too much stuff like whittling in the list. Whittling and other intricate crafting seems like it is not as necessary as the other skills in the list. Yes its lovely, but do you really need to be an expert at whittling in order to pass PEP1? It doesn't seem like a necessity to me. Please let me know if you think otherwise!
 
paul wheaton
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Here are my quick throughts for pep1 (will probably edit this post several times) ...


white belt:

make four mallets for use with a froe. Two single piece, and two two piece (handle and head).
make 100 shakes
carve a spoon
make a shaving horse
make one tool handle
coat hooks, using dry pegs in green wood
three log bench
half log bench on four legs
skiddable shelter/shed
at least 100 feet of woven fence to contain chickens
use a cleave break
make a bowsaw frame
saw horse
saw buck
wooden box/crate
three legged stool for indoor use


green belt:

make two more mallets
make 200 more shakes
another three log bench
three more spoons
two more three log benches
make four more tool handles
make a bucket (does not have to be water tight)
indoor chair
indoor table
bed frame
make another skiddable shelter/shed
a woven fence to define a chicken paddock of a quarter of an acre with two gates
pitchfork
another bowsaw frame
store wood for future projects that need bits of dry wood
insect hotel
ladder


brown belt:

make another shaving horse
make a water tight bucket
three more indoor chairs
wood log trough
holzer bee hive
build a skiddable shed for green woodworking that includes a cleave break and a place to dry wood/pegs
teach four people all of the steps to getting their white belt
teach two people all of the steps to getting their green belt



what am i forgetting?

 
jesse markowitz
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I think making furniture out of saplings is a really good starting point for people to practice their joinery. Its cheap wood, so its okay if you mess up, and the wood you're working with is small, so the joints should be a little easier.

Table made of saplings

front.jpg
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table.jpg
[Thumbnail for table.jpg]
032278b1ad23902f0b8961a17e43db16.jpg
[Thumbnail for 032278b1ad23902f0b8961a17e43db16.jpg]
 
jesse markowitz
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Some detail photos of the joint work on the project I linked to above:
topjoint.jpg
[Thumbnail for topjoint.jpg]
joint.jpg
[Thumbnail for joint.jpg]
arc.jpg
[Thumbnail for arc.jpg]
 
Judith Browning
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This thread is covering wonderful stuff! I think this book Country Woodcraft by Drew Langsner would be a great resource also. Not all about working with green wood but covers much of what you have listed.
Here's the link to Wille Sundvist's book that I saw mentioned above. ...and our friends Owen's hickory bark chair seats 'how to'. He has 30 plus years of experience doing chair seats for his own furniture...I could send you our copy if you can play a video?
 
Michael Cox
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Good things on the list so far...

Considering that we are taking people potentially from "have never held a stick before" and "have never held a knife before" I'd take the first skills back even further.

  • Whittle a set of 6 tent pegs with a belt knife
  • Cut a sapling with a knife by notching around it
  • split a thin piece of wood along the grain using a knife blade


  • On a bush craft course I did a couple of years ago these were the very first knife/carving skills we looked at. A lot of our group had never held a knife before or whittled a stick... the tent pegs were a great place to start learning about wood and knives. Basics whihc are obvious to people who have done it, but need figuring out when you are beginning... knots are hard to work through so choose straight grain wood, choose material that is the appropriate diameter so you don't need to remove too much material etc...

  • Hand carve a spoon for eating - unless you want to eat with a wooden club this takes a fair amount of skill



  • And as others have suggested, you need to build up fairly quickly to shave horse and pole lathe... from there you can bootstrap your way to pretty much everything else.
     
    Peter Ellis
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    Penny Dumelie wrote:Somewhere in there I would consider adding something about learning the different types of joins, when to use each type, and how they work/how to make them.
    As someone who knows almost nothing about this topic, other than what I have seen on chairs and the like we own, I would need to learn this before constructing any furniture. Or maybe there is a chair pattern that can be followed somewhere that would incorporate the most common joins (learn while doing)?


    Curtis Buchanan has a free video series on Youtube that takes you through making a comb back chair.
    http://www.curtisbuchananchairmaker.com/free-instructional-videos.html

    Really goes through from beginning to end and shows everything you need to know. Some of it is the sort of thing you look at and go "of course that is how you do it!" and some of it you watch and think "easy for you, how many have you made?"

    Curtis has provided a terrific resource. I learned quite a bit and enjoyed it all.
     
    Jay C. White Cloud
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    This topic has come up as late with others I correspond with...all had similar thoughts which seem more in line with the actual learning processes in means, methods, and materials as it relates to "Greenwood Woodworking Curriculum."

    There needs to be a logical and natural progression to learning this craft, and I have to agree with those that shared that making several different examples of an object is beneficial, yet when out of the context of "time" has little merit.

    This is for an apprentice working in several of the shops, and/or groups I have been around in the last few decades...

    The student needs to be able to:

    Be able to walk into the forest and select from sight (summer or winter) the major species used in the given crafts for a region.

    Split 10 cords of wood from these species and/or rive out a minimum of 1000 board feet of stock from each of the species used. .

    Be able to identify the wood in these cords by sight, smell and touch or a combination there of.

    Through discussion, reading, and watching, learn what these different woods are used for, how they behave, and their other characteristics.

    Be able to look at a section of wood, log, timber, or board, and understand what one is looking at by being able to identify the root of the tree, the crown of the tree and whether one is looking at the bark side or the pith side....all from just looking at grain and related characteristics.

    Processes this rough stock to usable stock for projects.

    Use all this material in projects needed to expand one's knowledge. (ie. tool boxes, tool handles, workbenches, shaving horse, etc.)

    Note: these are just the basics that would launch the understanding needed to pursue this as a serious hobby or perhaps career. The "quantities" are progression, as just doing a cord of wood will teach a great deal when done with focus of "learning from the wood," and reading about it as well. This does not even begin to speak to the lesson one must learn from the tools themselves, and what each tool teaches the user.

    As for "rating systems" of levels (what Paul has referenced as "belts") I would suggest the following as a most basic of outline. After the basics are internalized, and understood and the student begins to build things from the materials they have harvested a rating of sorts could look...basically...like this.

    WHITE BELT

    Make froe handle, a tool box, mallet, axe handle or 3 related items of similar nature.

    ORANGE BELT

    3 more objects similar to WHITE belt.

    YELLOW BELT

    Create stool, shaving horse, workbench or 4 related items of a similar nature.

    BLUE BELT

    4 more objects similar to YELLOW belt.

    GREEN BELT

    Design a chair, a cabinet, a blanket chest, a table, a knock down armoire

    PURPLE BELT

    5 more objects similar to GREEN belt.

    BROWN BELT

    Work with someone to build a timber or log structure...

    BLACK BELT

    Be able to walk into a forest and with basic skills understood, from scratch, fabricate a timber and/or log structure on one's own.
     
    jesse markowitz
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    Thanks Jay!
     
    Peter Ellis
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    Let me check if I am following correctly, Jay.

    Before starting the white belt a person should be able to identify, winter and summer, the standing trees of species used for crafts in their area; split ten cords of these species; rive one thousand board feet of hese species; be able to identify the species of the tree from a split log or riven board; be able to orient a riven board according to how it grew in the tree; know the uses of each variety of wood, how each behaves (I am assuming here you are talking about shrinkage, warping, movement in general and how they behave under tools, as likelihood of grain tear out, thiggs like these) and other characteristics (strength to weight, compression strength, shear strength, finishing traits, weathering, rot resistance ?); process the rough stock to use in projects (that seems a little open ended to me, but I get this is all pretty much in shorthand).

    Once the timber has been procesed, then you start in on various projects, and that is where you have white belt picking up, correct?

     
    Jay C. White Cloud
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    Hello Peter, et al,

    I will do my best to explain and/or expand my perspective.

    This is a "spectrum" of skill sets. It does, run in a sequential order of learning for the most part naturally. This sequence may vary in general between each student of a give art or craft, yet for the well rounded artsin or craftsperson, it doesn't. In my experience, if the sequence of "understanding" becomes "non" sequential...for whatever reason...then the "understanding" of the medium can become aberrant, which in turn affects the way a student may understand the medium and be able to further internalise deeper understanding of it.

    With that said, the above is a very general and simplistic guideline for a student to consider should the want to begin this journey of understanding of "greenwood woodworking," and each craft has its own understanding.

    It should also be noted that some (a hobbyist for example) may forgo the broad and in depth understanding of a medium, yet I suggest, this non sequential approach leaves gaps in the understanding.

    There is more to this...but for now, that should explain it a bit better......or I hope it does...

     
    Peter Ellis
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    I am going to suggest that for the purposes of what are essentially a series of survey courses in a wide variety of subjects, the introductory level is too high.
    I recognize that everything you laid out is reasonable and probably necessary for professional level work, but I understand the purpose here to be not so much producing people who are qualified professional cooks, gardeners, foresters, woodworkers, home builders, earthworks builders, etc., etc. but rather people who have a more than passing acquaintance with all of these areas, a level of functional competence across the board, with in depth expertise here and there.

    I would think that a person pursuing black belt level in green woodworking would be looking at the skills you are looking for in a person who might pursue a professional career in the area, while a white belt would run more along the lines of someone who knew enough about it to recognize whether a bidder on a prospective job actually knew their stuff, but not necessarily being qualified to do the job themselves.

    As a sort of perspective, I have a functional level of skills working in green wood. I have built my own shaving horse from trees felled in my yard, I've hewn a beam from a log, hand cut mortise and tenon joints in round wood, and can make treenware. I've rived planks and split logs, but not on the scale you are looking for

    I honestly do not see myself ever completing your introductory list, yet I have sufficient skills to produce functional objects now.

    Please understand I am not disagreeing with your list, only suggesting that it is setting the bar awfully high at the beginning.
     
    Jay C. White Cloud
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    Hello Peter, et al,

    As I understand this post thread topic (please OP or others correct me if I am incorrect) we are writing about guidelines to "Greenwood Woodworking," and not about, "...professional cooks, gardeners, foresters, woodworkers, home builders, earthworks builders, etc., etc..." so I will admit to getting lost on that part.

    I recognize that everything you laid out is reasonable and probably necessary for professional level work...


    This is general true, yet it is also a basic foundation to understand the post topic in a well rounded fashion depending how deep one delves into it.

    I would think that a person pursuing black belt level in green woodworking would be looking at the skills you are looking for in a person who might pursue a professional career in the area...


    Yes, or wanting to teach it, and/or a serious hobbyist that love the art and craft of it. I have met many that reach this level, but it took them a lifetime, while others it only took ten year. Like I suggested before there is a spectrum on this scale.

    ...while a white belt would run more along the lines of someone who knew enough about it to recognize whether a bidder on a prospective job actually knew their stuff, but not necessarily being qualified to do the job themselves...


    That is a pretty good analogy of that level...

    Please understand I am not disagreeing with your list, only suggesting that it is setting the bar awfully high at the beginning.


    Perhaps I should have made a clearer demarcation between where an apprentice starts, and the "belt system." If someone would take the time just to read some good books, and study the forest around them well, they could endeavor into the realm of a white belt without too much time or great effort.

    Again, I should stress...This is a spectrum of abilities and it is recommended they are approached sequentially to obtain a well rounded understanding. As for the bar being too high, I would view that as subjective and dependant on the student's goals. I would further suggest that like Martial Arts, and Rock Climbing, two other activities I have enjoyed, many in the beginning or not wanting to take all the steps, but instead really want to "cut corners" and justify doing so as the try to cut these corners...I have never seen this work, or seen any student rewarded for this effort, no matter what art or craft they pursue.

    For me, learning the sequence of understanding was probably the first task in any art and craft I have pursued. Internalizing this and thoroughly understanding this sequencing has always rewarded me with a deeper understanding...
     
    Peter Ellis
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    Ahh. You are responding to this thread in isolation, not as part of the "PEX/PEP1" series of threads with which it is associated.

    Without the full context i certainly see where I am not making much sense You might want to take a look in the PEX/PEP1 forum and check some of the discussions, there are some interesting ideas bouncing about, including Paul's introduction to the PEP1 concept.
     
    Jay C. White Cloud
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    Peter, you nailed it...

    I have kind'a avoided that post thread because much of it doesn't make sense to me or fit in my sensibilities as a teacher. Here I could take something I know well, and outline the progressive and sequential learning steps of it for a student. Then perhaps through conversation, refine it or tailor it to an individual student, just as I would any syllabus...one size does not fit all in education...

    Perhaps, others could then extrapolate from this conversation, and apply those principles to the others. If I am given a specific topic...like...Greenwood Woodworking...I can develope a pretty good outline of progression a student would benefit from following...

    Thanks again Peter for your input...
     
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