Tag Archives: Arlington

NBSS Drywall Workshop October 2013

Teaching a weekend workshop is often like a two day stage performance. I’m up at dawn to prep, drive down, unload, on my feet non-stop for the class, then cleanup, head home, quick dinner, then out like a light, and lather rinse repeat. For most people that sounds like torture, but for me it’s fun.

Light stick framing lesson, then hanging sheetrock
Light stick framing lesson, then hanging Sheetrock

I love to share my passion for woodworking with others and teaching helps to feed the tool and and supply kitty for my various projects .

Closing in the wall
Closing in the wall

Last weekend I taught a two day workshop on drywall, mud work and textures. I designed the class last January and this was the second time we ran it. I’m happy to say that it sold out both times and we covered a lot of ground given we only had 2 days to work.

Aerial view of the class
Aerial view of the class

Each student had the opportunity to learn all the basics needed to tackle a new drywall installation or repair project.

Using a hawk and applying mud to the corner joint
Using a hawk and applying mud to the corner joint

The course covered a wide range of topics including:

  • Basics of Stick Framing
  • Hanging Drywall and Coursing
  • Taping, Inside and Outside Corners
  • Working with ‘Mud’
  • Wet and Dry Sanding
  • Texture Work
  • Repairs
Wet sanding
Wet sanding

My last workshop back in May was going to be the last workshop the NBSS Arlington Location which is a 10,000 square foot workshop which was my home when I was a student at NBSS. (It used to be the workshop and classrooms for Preservation Carpentry and Carpentry departments at the school). The school has now relocated all the programs back under a single roof on North Street in the North End of Boston a couple of blocks from where the school spent its first 134 years. This workshop requires a lot of space, ceiling height and access to a large dumpster and with all the hustle and bustle of the school setting up at the new location it made sense to run this workshop in the old and largely empty space left in Arlington. The class went great, but the the one sad part for me was at the end of the second day when I had to say goodbye to the Arlington space for the second time. But like all good-byes, it is also a new beginning…

The good news is that I have a few workshops scheduled in the spring at the new campus location. You can learn more about them here.


Installing Doors and Windows as Performance Art

This past Saturday I taught a workshop on installing doors and windows at the North Bennet Street School’s Arlington location. While it is the last workshop that will be taught at that location before the big move this summer into the new facility back in the North End of Boston it did not feel as much like the end of an era — it felt like the beginning of something new. The Arlington location was where I learned as a student and where I first started teaching workshops at NBSS so while I am a little sad to see the old shop get packed up, I look forward to seeing where we can push going forward with new classes and new opportunities.

Door and Window Framing Mockup
Door and Window Framing Mockup

In designing this class part of the challenge was to make accessible to a wide audience and also be reasonable with the materials. The format of this workshop was a full day of me demonstrating, lecturing a bit, answering questions and letting the class try some of the hands on operations.  By the time I got home I was on my feet for about 14 hours that day and felt like I completed a long piece of performance art.

Using shims to center and plumb up the door
Using shims to center and plumb up the door

We covered a lot of material given this was only a one day class:

  • basics of stick framing
  • how to install a new pre-hung door and adjust it
  • how to install a door knob and lockset
  • how to trim out the door
  • how to cut sheathing for a framed out window opening
  • installing and leveling a window
  • how to wrap and flash around a window
  • how to cut a stool and trim out a window
  • And MANY general questions along the way
Bill demonstrating how to adjust the door's opening
Bill demonstrating how to adjust the door’s opening

If there are carpentry, preservation carpentry, or general woodworking workshops you’d like to see offered at the school or in my own shop, please let me know as I’m always looking to teach something new and entertaining.

Turning Ovals at the Old Schwamb Mill

If you’re an avid wood turner and live in or near New England this is a road trip worth taking. The Old Schwamb Mill in Arlington MA (a short 1 block walk from the North Bennet Street School’s Arlington campus — and on the road to historic Lexington where I lived for a long time) is a great afternoon trip and the sort of place you could drive by every day and never notice — as I did for years. Once discovered, this site is a real gem, and also home to a Shaker furniture and supply store.

Turning and oval frame
Turning and oval frame

You may be asking yourself, “how do I turn an oval frame?”

The magic is in the head stock — one of only a handful of this 100+ year old design known to still exist. And there are 3 or 4 of them at the mill. As the head turns there is a mechanical movement that moves the piece being turned up and down so that the wood is consistently presented to the tool at the tool rest. It also makes for a rhythmic noise as it runs. It’s not like most turning — think of it like scraping with style.

The mill has been at this location for 300+ years and making world famous oval frames for 137+ years. In addition to the lathe shown here there is also a massive version in the basement along with several other unique belt driven tools which expedited the process of making and joining these interesting frames. Work from this mill is in the White House and other similar places around the world.

If you’d like to visit the mill, you can find more information here on there web site: http://www.oldschwambmill.org/

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