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Saturday, December 18, 2010

Custom Made

Have you been over to the Custom Made website yet?  They are doing a great job at providing three things:

1.  A place for artists to show off their abilities and portfolios
2.  A place for potential buyers to find a wealth of resources for hand made products, some even near where they live.
3.  A referral service to connect those in category one with those in category two.

We've been working hard over there lately, updating my profile to show folks like you some of the work I have done so you can have an idea of what you might want me to make for you someday.  Looking for custom anything?  Check them out.  Here's a link to my profile page.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Spotlight on Guilds

If you are serious about taking your woodworking to the next level, I highly recommend that you get involved with a local woodworking guild.  When I was first starting out as a furniture maker, back when I lived in Vancouver, Washington, I joined the Guild of Oregon Woodworkers based in Portland, right across the Columbia River from us.  There, I found a wealth of information, training, support and encouragement, in addition to the camaraderie of a big group of like-minded individuals. 

Several of my students here at CSFW are guild members where they live and have really enjoyed showing their work off there when they get back from their time here.  In fact, one of my former students, Randy Owen from Sacramento, has become a bit of a local woodworking celebrity in his guild.  He loaned us the gorgeous koa wood rocking chair he built at our school to display in our booth at The Woodworking Show in Sacramento in November and a number of members of the Sacramento Area Woodworkers guild came to our booth, not to talk to us, but to see Randy's chair.  It was really fun.

When we were in Denver last month, we met a bunch of the folks from the Colorado Woodworkers Guild.  They were a fun and active group of folks representing a wide variety of woodworking styles and all seemed to really enjoy one another's company.  We were impressed also, by this Colorado group, because of their emphasis on attracting younger members to their ranks.  Although the members representing them there represented a broad spectrum of ages, their newly elected president is in his 20's!  That's great!  He is doing a great job updating their image and keeping them fresh and up-to-date.  Thanks for the t-shirt and coffee mugs, Colorado!  I am making good use of them.

For those of you that prefer to live in the digital community, there is even a guild of woodworkers on-line!  Check out the Wood Whisperer Guild for a great community of woodworkers who enjoy podcasts and online demonstration videos and encourage one another with lots of practical advice and support as they build their projects at their homes all over the country and all over the world.  It's a great option if you live your life 'plugged in.'

What about you?  We'd love to hear about your local guild.  Drop us a line some time and let us know about guilds that deserve a word of mention here.  Oh, and one more thing, I am always up for teaching seminars and classes for guilds across the country.  Let me know if you are interested in more information about that.

Friday, December 03, 2010

For the Well-Dressed Woodworker

'Occupational Hazard' What Size?


'Mandatory Waiting Period' What Size?

'Going Green'  What Size?

'Domestic Bliss' What Size?

Can't decide on just one?  Need one for you and one for a buddy?  Choose two shirts and save 20%.  Just specify which shirts and which sizes you need in the text box below:

'Pick Two Special' What Size?

So why are we spending valuable shop hours designing t-shirts?  Well for starters, we love clever t-shirts.  Hey, you gotta wear something and it may as well be amusing.  More importantly, however, we are looking to get on the road for several months with The Woodworking Shows and need to get a little creative in our funding.  I will be expanding my role with them as an educator--something I've been doing for three years now--moving from more of a side-show into one of their main speaker slots.  

It would be great for our woodworking school, of course, to increase our exposure to so many cities all over the country.  When we get to meet people in person in the shows, teach them some new skills and help them get inspired to try new things, something clicks.  It's good for our business and it's good for their woodworking.  But this is more than just a job.  We would be on the road together as a family for about four months.  

On the road.  As a family.  For four months.

We educate our kids at home anyway, so school is not a problem.  In fact, school will rock.  We live in rural Montana and our kids will get to see the whole country, with historical sites, national parks and monuments, museums, the whole shabang (is that a word?).   We like to travel and learn together anyway, so taking school on the road will be great.  School to go.  School with wheels instead of walls.  They'll become Road Scholars!  Ok, enough about that.  We like each other.  We like to have adventures together.  This would be the adventure of a lifetime.  

Back to the shirts.  We are rounding up sponsors to get behind us at the shows, but we are also looking for additional creative methods to raise a few extra bucks.  Did you know they charge twenty-something bucks to go up in the Empire State Building now?

So if you like the shirts, scroll back up there and go for it.  Buy one for yourself--or a few.  They make great gifts, too, of course.  But don't take too long.  There's sawdust to be made.  The shop calls.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


Well, we are likely going to go ahead and print shirts to take on the road with us if we end up traveling more with The Woodworking Show this winter.  It looks like the more cost effective way to go is digital instead of screen, so that means we get to move to full color, rather than skimping on a one-color print.  With that in mind, we've redesigned several of the designs.

All of these designs would be still be printed on the front, generally centered on the upper chest area (with the exception of Represent, which is a tall design that runs up the entire right side of the shirt).  Our logo and website would be on the back, about 3.5 inches wide, up at the top.

"Going Green"
Reduce, reuse, recycle.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  You know the routine by now.  So be a good little steward of the earth's resources and let no beautiful lumber go to waste. 

"Occupational Hazard"
Hey, at least all the fingers are still there.  That's more than I can say for some of my woodworking buddies.

"Mandatory Waiting Period"
Woodworkers don't come stumbling into bed finally because they are tired of working on their project.  They come because there is nothing more they can do until the glue dries.

You can do wonders with these three versatile woods, and best yet, they're readily available right here in the good old USA.

Respect the beauty of the tree.  Do it proud.  Make something amazing from its lumber.  Let that gorgeous grain shine.  Show the world.  It's the least you can do for the tree.

"Three Wishes"
If you had a genie in a bottle, what would you wish for?  That's an easy one.

Do you like them better or worse?  Which are your favorites?  Which do you think you'd be most likely to buy for yourself or as a gift for others?  As before, we're looking for your feedback.  Thanks.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

T-Shirts, Anyone?

Have you noticed that there is a serious lack of really good woodworking t-shirts out there? Woodworking is pretty much my number one hobby, as well as my profession, so I really like thinking about it, dreaming about it, reading about it, and talking about it.  I wear a lot of t-shirts myself and I am easily entertained by clever wit on a shirt, whether on myself or others.  Combine those two loves--woodworking and cool t-shirts--and I really need some new threads.  Unable to find much of anything that amuses me, we've decided we might have to make our own.

So here are some designs we've come up with.  We'd like to actually print them and make them available for purchase online and at The Woodworking Shows, but we need to know if anyone else likes them as much as we do.

That's where you, reader, come in to the picture.  Glance through the designs if you will and give us some feedback.  Are any of these shirts you would actually buy for yourself or for gifts for others?  Which ones do you like most?  Would you pay $15, $18 or even $20 for one of these babies?  They would all be professionally screen-printed on a high-quality 100% cotton shirt.  The designs shown here would be printed on the front chest area, with the CSFW logo and website, fairly smallish, on the upper back of the shirt.  Let us know your thoughts.  If enough people are interested, we might just go for it.

Behold, the shirts (you can click on the images to enlarge them a bit):

"Three Wishes"
If you had a genie in a bottle, what would you wish for?  Well, duh, that's a no-brainer.  The shirt reads, "1. tools  2. wood  3. time"

"Mandatory Waiting Period"
Woodworkers don't come stumbling into bed finally because they are tired of working on their project.  They come because there is nothing more they can do until the glue dries.  The shirt reads, "Waiting for Glue-Up"    

"Occupational Hazard"
Hey, at least all the fingers are still there.  That's more than I can say for some of my woodworking buddies.  The caption simply reads, "woodworker"

I've always wanted to have a title after my name.  I make chairs.  Out of boards.  That will work.  The shirt reads, "ChairMan of the Board."

Respect the beauty of the tree.  Do it proud.  Make something amazing from its lumber.  Let that gorgeous grain shine.  Show the world.  It's the least you can do for the tree.  The caption reads, "re.present"

"Going Green"
Reduce, reuse, recycle.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  You know the routine by now.  So be a good little steward of the earth's resources and let no beautiful lumber go to waste.  The shirt reads, "I recycle trees."

"Amber Waves of Grain"
Sing it with me...Oh, beautiful for figured wood...  Sorry, it's just that when someone mentions grain, my first thought is generally about quilted maple or waterfall bubinga, not fields of wheat.  I mean no disrespect to the patriotic song.  The caption says, "Waves of Grain"

"Chronic Forgetfulness"
How many times do I have to remind you to put that apron on and protect your clothing?  That's the third shirt you've ruined this week!  Or something to that effect.  The shirt reads, "  Oops, forgot my shop apron again."

"Book Match"
This shirt has nothing to do with a match book, which is something you might employ to rid your shop of the odd bits of scrap you can't find any other use for.  It also has nothing to do with wood burning or burning books.  The caption says, "(No, not book burning)"

"I (heart) Chatoyance"
This one vocabulary word sets the serious woodworker apart from his/her casual counterparts.  If you don't know what it means, look it up.  You already love chatoyance--I guarantee it--you just might not have know what it meant before. 

I'm always encouraging my students to move beyond traditional fences and learn to do some free-hand work.  It expands the horizons.  Wide-open spaces and all that.  I think I feel a song coming on.  The shirt reads, "Don't fence me in"

"Power Corrupts"
It's true, isn't it?  What happened to you, deep in your soul, the first time you got behind the wheel of a really cool power tool?  Were you ever the same again?  I don't think so.  After all, you are now sitting here reading descriptions of woodworking shirts.  Enough said.  The caption says simply, "Power Corrupts"

"Nice Figure"
What?  I was talking about woodgrain!  What were YOU thinking about?  Shame on you!  We chose not to have an image with this one, as there are so many to choose from.  We'll let you use your imagination.  The shirt reads, "Nice figure"

So anyway, we need to know your thoughts.  Are these shirts amusing only to us and no one else would ever want to buy them?  That would be good to know before we go out and print a gajillion of them--or even twenty.  Please leave a comment here, or on our official Facebook page, or reach us via Twitter (@chidwickschool).  You could also drop an email to or even give me a phone call, 406-546-7130.  Tell your friends about these shirts, too, so we can hear their thoughts also.  We're not professional shirt designers, just avid woodworkers, so we could really use a bunch of feedback here.   

Thanks, and happy sawdust.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Finally--Online Registration and Payment!

Hi there.  We've been having some trouble with our regular website lately, so we are adding a few features here that really belong over there.  Does that make sense?  I hope so.

On our regular Chidwick School of Fine Woodworking website, you can find all sorts of information about who we are, what kinds of classes we offer, what the CSFW experience is like and how it is unique among woodworking schools.  What you can't find there, however, is a simple online registration form or a way to make a secure payment for a class.  For now, those things are here, in the side bar.  Scroll down and you will find all kinds of goodies.

We hope to see you out here at our school in Montana one of these days for an unforgettable woodworking vacation!  

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ever Wish You Could Pet a Grizzly?

Really nicely done video by the Montana Tourism folks.  Shows off the beauty the state well and makes me wish I had a pet grizzly named Brutus who likes to be scratched behind the ears.

Montana Stories: Casey Anderson from Montana Office of Tourism on Vimeo.

So Much To Do...

So, we leave for our time with The Woodworking Shows in only a few days, but I am spending huge blocks of time figuring out how to better market our business through Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, LinkedIn, Trip Advisor and a variety of other social media sites.  When our students get here to the school, they have a great time and an excellent experience all around, but getting them here--at least until we have built up a longer-term reputation in the industry--has proven to be a challenge.  Thus the social media push.

Which brings me to the reason for this post...What social media sites (like the ones I just listed above) do you use regularly?  Are you a Facebooker?  Are we officially 'friends?'  Do you Tweet?  Would you like it if I became one of your, ahem, I mean 'followers?'  Do you even bother with blogs when you are researching a product, brand, organization, etc.?  Do you use LinkedIn?  Is it important to you?  How about Trip Advisor?  Do you write reviews?  Do you read them?  Are there other sites that I should be paying more attention to that I didn't even mention here?

I'm curious, and would love to hear your thoughts.


Oh, and if we're not officially 'friends' and you'd like to be, or if I'm not currently stalking...I mean following you on Twitter and you'd like me to (and maybe you'd like to follow me, too), then please mention that, along with whatever cool names you've chosen for yourself, in a comment here or in a private message.  Thanks.