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What kind of curriculum for a scrolling class?

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  • What kind of curriculum for a scrolling class?

    I'm in very early discussions with the program coordinator of a local Art Center about conducting a basic/beginners scroll saw class at the center. This place is part of a State Park and their mission is to support local artists and crafters through their consignment shop and through a series of classes they offer in things like wood carving, painting, basketweaving, etc. They've never held a scroll saw class before, but all of their classes are "hands on", formatted around making a project or developing a particular skill. My preliminary vision for a class would be centered more around discussion, Q&A and probably some demonstration, with perhaps a little hands-on time to allow newbies to give the saw a try. The difficulty in organizing a full scale project based class is that I have only one saw and it would be difficult to coordinate such an effort.

    My question to you folks is, if you knew someone was offering a beginners/basic scroll saw class in your area, what would you expect to get out of it? I would likely talk about a lot of the things that are routinely discussed here, such as; blade selection, types of saws, applying patterns, prepping wood, stack cutting, finishing, etc. anything that seems to be a roadblock to beginners or causes them to struggle with their new hobby.

    If the class were to be oriented toward making a project, say something simple, like a Christmas ornament or a plaque, the logistics would be more complicated and I'm not so sure that beginners would prefer a class where they are simply practicing a basic cutting skill. I would think that most would prefer learning tips, tricks and getting advice that they can take back to their own shop and apply.

    That's my $.02 and based on the feedback I've gotten from the program coordinator, I'm not sure he's convinced it's the best approach. So I need your help. Let me know what you think, so I can either adapt my thinking, or be more confident that I'm on the right track.

    Thanks in advance!
    Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter. Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

  • #2
    I tend to agree with your program director. if I were thinking of taking a beginners class, I would be more likely to sign up if I knew I could at least have a few minutes hands on experience. I would think some of those interested would not already have a saw but were merely researching. Hands on may the clincher to get them motivated to getting a saw and furthering their own experience after your class.

    I would ask upfront, How many of you already have a scroll saw at home? Then tailor your class toward the response.
    "Still Montana Mike"

    "Don't worry about old age--it doesn't last that long."
    Mike's Wood-n-Things LLC

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    • #3
      Thanks Mike,

      I don't necessarily have a problem with the hands on format. I guess I'm just concerned as to how well that would work with only one saw. If there were only a few folks in the class, it wouldn't be a problem, but if there were a dozen or so, it would be a challenge to get everyone time on the saw, without the rest getting bored watching.

      One thing I have to get a better feel for is who actually attends these classes. As I mentioned, the Art Center is located in the middle of a state park, so the students may all be campers just looking for something to do for a few hours. If that's the case, then the hands-on approach would be a necessity.

      I've considered getting my scroll saw club involved, which would help solve the saw availability problem. But the campground is at least 1.5 - 2 hours away for most of us and not knowing what I was getting into, I hesitate to ask others to commit without getting a lay of the land myself. I still may explore that option and bring it up at our November meeting.
      Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter. Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

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      • #4
        Getting the club involved does sound like a possible option. Do you have the option of limiting participation numbers?
        "Still Montana Mike"

        "Don't worry about old age--it doesn't last that long."
        Mike's Wood-n-Things LLC

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        • #5
          I don't know. Another good question for me to ask the program director.
          Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter. Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

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          • #6
            Bill,

            The suggestions that have been given are good ones. Once you know how many people are likely to be there, you can figure out whether any hands-on work is at all appropriate. For making any kind of project, you really need more saws. I once taught a beginner class where there were 4 people and 3 saws, and even there we had a problem. My Woodcrafts bowl class had 4 people and 4 saws, and that was about right.

            If you don't have a huge crowd, you can prepare some simple exercises, like John Nelson has in his how-to book, so people can get a sense of the feel of the saw without taking more than a minute or two. That may be sufficient, along with some information about blades, types of projects, special features, such as the ability to cut out centers and do angled cutting. A sample of projects that can be done is also useful, since most people have no idea of the range of projects. (I don't know if you've seen WD's birdhouse-topped pens, but they are knockouts.)

            Good luck. Teaching is fun.
            Carole

            Follow me on my blog: www.scrollsawbowls.blogspot.com

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            • #7
              Thanks Carole.

              Good points and I appreciate the input. I think they do a pre-reservation for their classes, so I presume I would know in advance how many would be participating and could prepare accordingly. And as was said, perhaps I could limit the class size to whatever number is appropriate.



              Good stuff all! Keep it coming.
              Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter. Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

              Comment


              • #8
                If there is any funding available maybe somebody like Harbor Freight would help with 4 or 5 saws at a reduced price. Their little green monster isn't top of the line but definitely good enough to learn the basics.
                May the wind at you back .....
                Not be from Lunch.

                Don't take life too seriously; No one gets out alive.

                Beauty is in the eye of the BEERHOLDER

                Visit My Gallery

                Oily's Gallery

                http://www.picturetrail.com/oily11

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                • #9
                  This summer, during her three week stay with us, I began teaching my granddaughter (8 1/2) to use the scrollsaw. It was her request last spring for me to show her how to make something that led me to begin. That said...I suggest that you limit the class to 4 or less unless you can get more saws and helpers;

                  MOST IMPORTANTLY - goggles for all and safety rules!

                  1) hands on is a must for any beginner
                  2) use straight grained, with large knot free areas, of well dried pine
                  3) pick a simple outline project, with no internal cuts, that can be cut in less than 15 minutes, for starters. I also suggest a #5 RT blade. Less sanding afterwards, big enough to stand up to the side pressure that beginners all put on a blade but small enough to make curves come out smoothly.
                  4) Let them all cut out the pattern, tape the board, and glue the pattern to the board before cutting.
                  5) Let them ease the edges before going home They can paint them at their leisure

                  I hope this helps.

                  george
                  A day without sawdust is a day without sunshine.
                  George

                  delta 650, hawk G426

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                  • #10
                    Thanks George. Looks like if this does happen, I should really focus more on the hands on aspect and provide something for students to cut. I'm sort of going back to the drawing board and re-thinking my approach to this, based on the feedback I'm getting. I hope to have a phone conversation with the program director this weekend to talk through some of these questions and should have a better sense of the direction this is headed after that.

                    Thanks again all!
                    Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter. Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

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                    • #11
                      I definatley like the hands on idea. If they can use the saw & get a feel of what it does, that would help them a lot. The one saw should not be a problem if you just have each one take a turn at it. Don't know how many would be in the class, but, you have to work with what you have & plan ahead. I do think the blade, & saw quality means a great deal on whether they will enjoy scrolling. Good Luck
                      PERK

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                      • #12
                        Bill, there's some good advice in this thread.

                        Just my $0.02. I recently started a wood turning class in our community centre. Now the centre bought 5 lathes for the course (who said there was a recession).

                        We're two weeks in and we haven't turned on the lathes but they are sat there shiny and new, and we have set them up and adjusted - which is an important bit,

                        Also as we lean on or stand next to a lathe its like a hook that keeps you interested while the teacher talks as he points out things you look at the one next to you and touch it if you want.
                        Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

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                        • #13
                          Thanks guys,

                          I guess I always presumed that I would work in a little hands-on time, especially for those who don't have a saw of their own, or just want to try a Dewalt. With the limitations of one saw, however, I wouldn't be able to design the class around the making of a complete project. I'm thinking that is what the program coordinator would prefer. If that's the case, then I'll have to see about recruiting my club to help out and bring additional saws.

                          Thanks again to everyone for the advice and support. I'm still kind of excited about this, despite maybe needing to adjust my perspective a little. I'll post more details, once some things get firmed up.
                          Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter. Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

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                          • #14
                            I'd also fill then in on what wood to buy and where to find it. It's one of my biggest stumbling blocks I've ran into as a beginner. If you are going to be short on the number of saws I'd take a helper or two and several samples of work you or someone in your club have made. That way you could take someone to a saw with a simple piece to do and your helpers could be answering questions, showing them the samples and keep them from getting bored standing around with nothing to do.

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                            • #15
                              I agree with the hands on, scrolling is a "hand"icraft. You may want to have a little class time to go over different saw types, blades, and why cutting some woods is so hard. Pine easy, 6/4 white HARD.
                              When is your course? I'm comming home next spring and can donate a well used Dremel 1695. I can drop it off at the Sawmill for you if you like.
                              Fredfret
                              Wichita, Ks.
                              PS. I own some land about 3 miles from there.

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