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Reflections on the Apprenticeship

“It might be that I have been listening to the M&T podcast and felt that I already knew Mike and Joshua, but this apprenticeship felt like a real-life gathering from day one! In the safe and encouraging atmosphere you have created – it felt easy to take on the challenges you offered us.  It has been a lot of work, but the rewards are so much bigger. I have during these eight weeks thrown myself into planing, ripping and sawing, sharpening and joinery – things I’ve planned/wanted/dreamed of for years. All the tools have been waiting, even a workshop space… but the habit has been missing. I now feel I can keep going. As I have been working with the...

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The Gift of Time

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – Gandalf the Grey, The Fellowship of the Ring I often think about Bill Coperthwaite’s description of knitting as “the finest of them all” in comparing means of handcraft production. He uses a unique framework to reach that conclusion. Knitting is the most portable of crafts; you can tuck all your tools into a little bag and carry it anywhere. Knitting is quiet and doesn’t disturb anyone around you. You can take it up any time your hands are idle and you want some creative enjoyment – any spare minute can be utilized for making progress. Coperthwaite calls it “one of the most efficient...

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Apprenticeship Registration is Now Live!

As of just a few minutes ago, Term 04 of the Mortise & Tenon Apprenticeship Program is open for registration! As Joshua mentioned yesterday, we’ve been blown away by the response to this program (referred to affectionately in-house as “MTAP”) and by the wonderful enthusiasm of our students. Many start out cautiously optimistic, having struggled with dovetails and sharpening and finding clear guidance in the past. But as we’ve seen, they finish the program with confidence to tackle just about any furniture project on their bucket list… or to go out into the woods with an axe and chop down a tree. The transformation is nearly incredible. Image Courtesy: Deborah Pessoa Running this program is a group effort, and a...

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Friendships and Skills to Last

Photo: Xueguang Lyu Congratulations and thank you to the Mortise & Tenon Apprenticeship Program Spring Term graduates! Congratulations on persevering and meeting the challenges of the 8-week online course, learning to use hand tools to prepare stock and cut the joinery used in practically all pre-industrial (and contemporary) furniture. Thank you for such excellent participation in completing the weekly assignments, engaging in the forums, and presenting questions for Joshua and Mike to address in Office Hours. Building upon the first four weeks of the program where we learned to sharpen all our tools, prepare stock, cut mortise and tenon joints, and through dovetails, we went to on learn half-blind dovetails and rabbets and dadoes, tree felling, splitting, riving, and carving...

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Update on Term Three of the Apprenticeship Program

The Mortise & Tenon Apprenticeship Program's Spring Term is sailing along and just might finish before spring weather actually arrives. As we pass the halfway point, the Apprentices have mounted numerous personal successes, from free-hand sharpening of their plane irons and chisels to resuscitating antique hand planes to employing these tools of the trade to create traditional handmade joinery worthy of the finest pre-industrial furniture. They're gaining the proper experience in efficient workholding, marking, and layout, body positioning for optimal tool engagement, mindfulness in employing hand tools, reading stock, and resharpening when necessary. The group dynamic is lively and encouraging as everyone tackles and posts their weekly assignments and many get started on Journeyman Challenge projects. Already we've seen lots...

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Last Week of Apprenticeship Term Two

  Whoa. Term Two of the M&T Apprenticeship Program has really flown by. Let me first congratulate the apprentices on all they’ve accomplished over the past eight weeks and welcome them to alumni status. The first term alumni anxiously await their participation as we build a community comprised of woodworkers from all over the U.S. and beyond. Image Courtesy: Matt Mathews Even before this term had begun, it was apparent that folks had been lining up – ready with wooden planes and vintage saws to restore and use. It’s so inspiring to watch women and men from all walks of life sharing their interest and desire to learn hand-tool woodworking as it was done a couple hundred years ago (and...

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A Year's Reflections

The shortest day of the year seems designed to invite thoughtful reflection. Maybe it’s the long evening hours of darkness, or the cold outside that draws everyone closer to the blazing woodstove. Maybe it’s the dwindling pages remaining on the year's calendar, falling away like autumn leaves (there’s a mixed seasonal metaphor for you). Maybe it’s the cookies in the oven. Yeah, definitely, the cookies have something to do with it. Here at M&T, we have a lot to reflect on and be thankful for. Every passing year brings new and interesting work for us, new ideas, new acquaintances and friendships, and new (often old) tools to mess around with. This year has been especially unique, with the launch of...

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Sourcing Antique Hand Tools

  Last week’s opening of registration for the second term of our Apprenticeship program vastly exceeded our expectations. What took two days last time took only four hours this go around. We could not believe our eyes to see the list filling that quick. We are excited about this term. These look like some enthusiastic people. But… if you weren’t quick enough on the draw, we have good news: We decided to add a few more slots to enable additional folks to sign up. There are a handful of open spaces as I write this, and with the frenzy now died down, you’ve got a window to get in. But seriously, do not delay. It’s open now, but I have...

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AH! Move quick! The Apprenticeship is Filling Up!!!

Whaaat in the world, y’all!?? We woke up this morning to find that we’ve been getting messages all night from people desperate to sign up for the Apprenticeship winter term. And then the minute it opened at 8:00 a.m. somehow several people signed up. We hadn’t even sent the email campaign announcing it. And as soon as we sent the email out, people have been lining up like crazy. So, I don’t know what time you’ll be reading this blog post, but at this rate… I don’t know if there will be any openings left by tonight. If there are slots available as you read this, sign up now! – Joshua  

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Apprenticeship Winter Term Opens Friday

This morning, our students in the Apprenticeship program turned in the last of their assignments – they’ve posted pictures of their shellac and milk paint projects and shared their essays of reflection on the past eight weeks of dedicated craft work. We’ve watched these folks go from green and a little nervous on day one to steady growth in confidence and skill over two months. They’ve taken these challenges head on, working through freehand sharpening, stock prep with hand tools, mortise-and-tenon joinery, dovetails (through and half-blind), rabbets, dadoes, green woodworking, and shellac and milk paint finishing. It has been an exhilarating term. Mike and I spent countless days this year creating an online hand-tool woodworking educational program that offered personal...

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