My views on a course

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  1. #1
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    My views on a course

    As most of you will be aware I took part in a one full day wood turning training course on Wednesday 7th July and I will try and express my views on it in this thread.

    Before I continue I would like to make clear that I have received no payment of any kind nor was I given any incentive payments before, during or after the course ended to do a review of it. That being the case I did ask the course tutor and owner for permission to write an unbiased review of my day spent with him and it was given with no caveats attached.

    The course I had decided to go on was one from Worker in Wood based on the outskirts of York Wood Turning Courses – Worker in Wood ran by Neil Lawton. I only decided to choose this course after speaking with Neil on the Penturners forum, had I relied only on information from his website I am not sure if I would have chosen him or not. The reasons for saying that are that very little information about Neil is readily available on his site, his course is not the cheapest one out there and finally the distance from where I live, Dronfield, involves over and hours longer drive, the nearest and cheapest similar type course I could find near me was one from Turners Retreat. I think his website is missing a major selling point by it not having an "about me" section.

    So what made me choose his over a course that is cheaper and over an hours drive closer to my home location?, that is an easy one to answer. Flexibility, flexibility and flexibility, after speaking for some time with Neil he told me I could split the day into different modules so I did not have to spend a full day on the one topic, in other words I could co Bowl Turning followed by Pen Turning, or box turning or spindle turning candlesticks or any combination I felt like doing, I could have as many or as few as I wanted but remember the more you have the less time you get to spend on each module. With never having turned anything before in my life I chose 3 modules, Bowls, pens and boxes, I really wanted to do 5 modules after all how difficult can turning be? On the day I reduced it to 2 Bowls and pens. No other course I have seen offer that kind of flexibility. The second factor was the notes on his "Courses" page of the website along with the course length of 8 hours, others I have seen are 6 hours in length also light lunches are included. This is what it says on his "Courses" page

    "All our courses can be tailored to your individual needs, whether you are a novice, beginner, or want to explore a different aspect to your hobby. We offer basic courses in Pen turning, Bowl turning, and turning small wooden boxes, with more options available upon request.

    Half day, and full day courses are bookable now, with the option to mix full days into pens, then bowls, or boxes, or any other variant. All courses include materials and personal safety equipment needed for the duration of the course. All courses are run by a professional with a qualification in managing safely, and in woodworking machine safety, with over 14 years experience in the education sector. Courses start and end times can be varied slightly to suit.

    A half day course is approximately 4 hours and full day 8 hours, including breaks.

    Refreshments are included, and a light lunch is served on full day courses. Please just let us know of any special dietary requirements in advance.

    One to One Tuition:

    Half day. 75
    Full day. 140
    Two days. 240

    These courses include a choice of wooden blanks
    and basic pen kits (if relevant.) Higher quality pen
    kits will be available to purchase for an extra charge."

    Neil is also a member of the RPT and I personally think he is missing a trick not mentioning that or if he has then I am sure I will not be the only one to of missed it.

    When I arrived Neil was at the front ready to greet me with a warm welcome and the first thing he did was to give me a tour of the toilet and kettle locations, both at the back of the house, and he said we could have a cuppa at any time, we then went up to the workshop. First impressions were very positive indeed, it was tidy and geared up for nothing other than turning. I had forgotten to bring any water with me and noticed there was no water machine or bottles anywhere. Neil had a large bottle of water for himself and as I found out there was no breaks other than lunch, I do actually understand why there are no tea breaks and that will be because there is no right or wrong times to have one and it was up to me say I wanted a tea break, I actually feel a little uncomfortable asking for breaks and think it would be better if a break in the morning and afternoon was built in. It may seem trivial but I was dehydrated by the time I got home.

    First thing Neil covered was Health and safety, that was, as we all know, the most boring part of the day but somehow Neil managed to make it interesting, it came across as being a very important part of the course. After that we had a chat about what it was I wanted to get out of the course and what my expectations were and it was at this point I made my final choices, that being pens and bowls and hopefully in that order. Neil then made a suggestion that we did bowls first and he gave his reasons for doing so, it made perfect sense so I chose Bowls followed by pens, Neil made it very clear that the choice always was mine to make and certainly did not put any pressure on me to change the order.

    We were now ready to start the course in earnest so to speak, the first thing we did was to choose a piece of wood that I was going to miraculously turn into a bowl, there was a good selection to choose from with different varieties and sizes I chose Yew, bigger that an egg cup but smaller than a car wheel. Neil then chose a bit for himself. We went over how to prepare the wood included various ways of finding the centre and what difference it makes not centring it correctly, onto the bandsaw to get a primitive circular shape (Neil's was near spot on where as mine would struggle to be called circular) Neil was always watching and giving advice on how to rectify the mistakes I was making. We then mounted our wood on lathes that were next to each other that way I could mirror what Neil was doing this was very useful especially when turning and cutting. I was guided through every stage of the bowl making process and we worked at my pace not Neil's.

    We then broke for a very tasty light lunch (It was genuinely nice) and once eaten we returned to the workshop and finished off the bowls and started doing the pens. Once again the pen blanks I had to choose from was very large with a great wood variety to choose from, Neil explained the pro's and cons of each species. We then chose what type of pen and what pen kit we were going to use. I was then shown and allowed to go through the whole totem of preparation and turned my very first pen quickly followed by my second.

    Summary:- This is an amazing course and worth every single penny, what I learnt was obviously geared up for the total novice but you can't help but get carried on the wave of enthusiasm Neil has for his teaching a skill he loves, I must of asked in excess of 100 questions and he never once seemed to get tired of answering them, because of all the questions I asked we had not finished the 2nd pen at 5pm (8 hours) instead it was 6pm when it was completed and not once did he try and hurry me along, from start to finish we worked at my pace. There were no training notes given out at the end but I would guess that that is because each course is tailor made for the individual. I can't help but feel that he could teach any turner regardless of the skill set they currently have especially the hobbyists.

    Would I recommend this course? Without a shadow of a doubt I would. As I have already said I feel it is worth every single penny and Neil really is a good teacher, he is patient and very knowledgeable on his subject matter. I genuinely can not find any negatives to say about the course and would say if anyone is thinking about doing a wood turning course that they should include this one on the list before making a choice.

    Gary


     
     
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  3. #2
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    I have to say well done Neil. Sounds to me that you have really struck the right note and Gary appears well pleased. Gary you do realise that you are now hooked on turning don’t you.

     
     
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  5. #3
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    Not that far off being hooked Allen, still at the stage of purchasing things I never thought I needed (Like glue for the tubes ...................... I know, I know ....................... )

    Going to practice making a bowl shape to cup the inside of a bowl when holding it in place when ready to break the nubb/nipple thing from underneath, I have explained that badly but I will photo it when done.

    Gary

     
     
  6. #4
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    Neil is a mate Gary so of course I'm biased but I said before you went that you would thoroughly enjoy it and I know Neil will happily take your comments on board. He's a great bloke, a skilled teacher and very enthusiastic.
    Of course he has his very own wood fairy unlike most of us.
    Now all you have to do is remember and get turning.
    Bob

    Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. (Samuel Beckett)

     
     
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  8. #5
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    Like my mate Bob says, Neil is a good friend of ours. This is why we knew you would enjoy your day. He is the complete package. To those who know him his knowledge is legend.
    Pleased you enjoyed it & found it good value for money.
    If it looks right it usually is! My namesake
    BLIND VETERANS UKhttps://www.facebook.com/blindveteransuk?ref=ts&fref=ts
    http://www.blindveterans.org.uk

     
     
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    Glad you had a great day with Neil.Looks like you learnt a great deal.Really looking forward to seeing your turning progress.In a year or so you will look round your workshop and think "blimey,where did that lot come from?"Tools and gadgets everywhere!
    Grumpier by the day.

     
     
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  12. #7
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    Thanks Gary and really happy you had a good time. I always have to drink copious amounts of water when I'm teaching as my voice can fail due to previous surgery I have had. I don't normally mention it but in Covid times it's prudent. I need to drink all the time but rely on students to let me know when they would like to take a break and provide still or fizzy water tea, coffee, or variants of such things.
    Might put an "about" page on the website but it might put people off!
    I can't decide whether to be a good example, or a horrible warning!

    https://www.facebook.com/pages/worke...06068033043974

     
     
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  14. #8
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    No surprises here for me but congratulations on seeking top instruction.

    Peter.
    Nil Desperandum

     
     
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  16. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Lawton View Post
    Thanks Gary and really happy you had a good time. I always have to drink copious amounts of water when I'm teaching as my voice can fail due to previous surgery I have had. I don't normally mention it but in Covid times it's prudent. I need to drink all the time but rely on students to let me know when they would like to take a break and provide still or fizzy water tea, coffee, or variants of such things.
    Might put an "about" page on the website but it might put people off!
    I think the main reason I mentioned it was not as a critique but as the only negative thing I could find about the whole day with you.
    Without putting a negative in, the review changes from being a review into being an advert.
    I always believe readers are more likely to accept a review that shows both the good and bad of the subject matter rather than a review that shows nothing but the positives.
    You did explain to me regards the water and as mentioned the onus was on myself to ask for breaks as and when I felt like one.
    You can always bribe me with an obscene amount of bowl and pen blanks and I will happily turn the review into an advert

    I emailed you yesterday afternoon (as requested) did you receive it all right as my emails have been playing up lately?

     
     

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