Unlocking the Box – A Course at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship
Earlier this Fall I traveled to Maine where I took a 2 week course titled Unlocking the Box, at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. This was a course in constructing Japanese puzzle boxes, which typically require several moves to open. We also looked into methods of creating secret storage spaces, locking mechanisms, and the Japanese art of decorating the boxes with elaborate veneer patterns called (I think) yosegi-zaiku.
First of all, the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship is an excellent school. The staff members are knowledgeable and helpful, the buildings are spacious and well-lighted, the equipment and tools are all top-of-the-line, and the instructors are excellent. Each of the workshop buildings has a Bench Room and a Power Tool Room. The Bench Room has most anything you might need – including a whole wall full of mostly Lie Nielsen planes. Each student gets a workbench to use during the course, and is also encouraged to bring some of their own hand tools. The Power Tool Rooms each have a couple of SawStop table saws, Powermatic Planer, a nice old cast iron Delta Planer, 20″ and 14″ band saws, 12″ and 8″ jointer, Festool sanders, etc. In other words, the place is equipped like a dream!
The course was taught by Kagen Sound and Clark Kellogg, woodworkers from Denver and Houston respectively. I was very impressed with their knowledge, teaching skills, and woodworking ability. They each have some beautiful work on their websites. Here are links: Kagen Sound and Clark Kellogg.
We spent the first 3 days or so learning the fundamentals of constructing a puzzle box. The process involves working on a smaller scale than I was used to, and it can get tricky trying to hold and cut some of the smaller pieces. Once we had an understanding of the basic concept, we were encouraged to explore whatever aspect of box-making we desired. Some moved on to elaborate mechanisms which required a dozen or so moves to open. Some created pieces with secret drawers and compartments. Some looked at the yosegi process and how the boxes are decorated.
If anyone is considering taking woodworking classes, I would encourage you to check out the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship. In addition to the 1 and 2 week workshops, they have longer intensive courses, up to 9 months.
Oh, and Lie Nielsen headquarters and showroom is close enough to the school to visit during your lunch break.
Here are some photos: