Class at Inside Passage

“You didn’t come here for a woodworking vacation, did you?”

In June 2007, with the help of a guild scholarship, I took a five-day Curves and Veneers class from Inside Passage School of Fine Woodworking (IP).  On the first morning, Robert Van Norman, who opened the school, was going through the aggressive outline of practice pieces we would build.  We would start with a coopered panel; then make a curved veneered panel with baked in edges; and third, a curved tapered lamination.  Robert explained that we were encouraged to take advantage of the bench room being open after class from 6pm to 9pm, and offered up the question above with a mischievous smile.

The IP website states that classes are appropriate for both beginning and experienced woodworkers.  I paid particular attention to that and found that they pulled that off nicely.  We started on the coopered panel tapering the edge joints of our four slices with hand planes.  IP provides Krenovian coopering, jointing and smoothing planes for each student to use. Robert went through sharpening and setting up of these planes, then onto planing techniques.  He then sent us back to work at our benches visiting each of us frequently to check on our progress and help where necessary.  Those students who were already experienced with planes were able to get quickly to the tapering of the edges and spend time getting the panel curved just the way the liked it and the edge joints really tight.  Those of us who needed more time to sharpen and work on our planing technique could work on that – until 9pm if needed (hand raised).

This was the first time I’d seen or used a coopering plane.  It was used to hollow the inside of the coopered door, and was a lot of fun to use.  I have one “woody” at home and was never able to get a feel for adjusting the depth of cut on it.  What I learned in the first couple hours of this class was that I was being way too rough with it.  I had been banging away trying to adjust my plane.  I learned that I need very gentle taps for both advancing or retreating the iron.

For the second lesson – the veneered curved panel, we had to shape the form on which the panel got shaped in the veneer press. This form was a thick peice of wood about 8 inches wide and 12 inches long. Close to an inch of thickness had to be taken off each side of the form with the jointer plane.  With each shaving about 1/1000th of an inch thick, you can do the math on how many passes were needed – to each side of the form.  While I was doing this I thought of the Karate Kid spending the better part of a day waxing on and waxing off to learn the hand motions so they could be done without having to think about it.

The next three photos are of steps to make the curved veneered panel.

The wax-on wax-off part of my week

Our curved panels in the vacuum press

Cleaning up the baked-in edges before applying the outer veneer

I could go on but I’ll wrap up this post here.  I loved IP.  Robert is a really nice guy, and a great teacher.  The setting is beautiful.  We shared the shop with students in the eight-month craftsman program.  It was cool to see what they were working on and get help from them too.  To top it all off James Krenov called twice during the week to give us hour-long lectures over the phone.  I intend to get back up there some day.

Robert Van Norman resawing on a sweet Davis & Wells band saw

The Inside Passage


About johnjoiner

Computer nerd by day, Dad and woodworker by night. Woodworking blog at
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