Bridge City Tool Works to Open Woodworking School in 2020…

Drivel Starved Nation!

Greetings from the Cloisters! I am currently in the middle of week 2 of my annual work retreat…

For those of you who are unfamiliar with my work retreats, they began about 17 years ago when I volunteered to dog sit at a friends house while they were on vacation. I took my laptop and was shocked to learn how productive I could be without distractions. It has been an annual event ever since.

How productive you ask? One year, in a two week manic period, I designed NINE new products. So far this trip, I have done one.

Besides an interruption free creative work experience, I get to make really cool, spouse free decisions, such as, “Do I need a shower?”. Or, “Am I hungry?” And if you guessed “yes” to this last question, then answer this;

“How many ants are currently on the cup that held my smoothie yesterday?”

Anyway, why the drop-off you ask?

I just came up with an idea that seems like a good idea. Actually, all of my ideas seem like really good ideas until they are not, which is most of the time.

As many of you know, I started my career as a woodworking instructor at a local high school here in Portland. That was in 1973. Here I am 45 years later pondering my very existence and have decided that the last chapter of my life I will come full circle. I am going to open a woodworking school in 2020. And get this, the tuition will be free.

Why 2020? Well, I need to remodel my garage to accommodate my students. I have to level the floor, tear out the ceiling and walls, add electrical service, add a window, add storage capacity and buy tools. When I tallied these expenses, I realized it was a bigger shock than my tally at Costco. And, it was way more money than I thought, and way more money than I have (at this stage of my life, debt is really dumb. Actually, debt is dumb most of the time). So, I will need to do this as I can afford it. HINT: Buy more tools!

Once I shared this information with close confidants, I had two prospective students ask for a course catalog which has yet to be printed, so I described the concept, and the first two courses, in a face-to-face meeting. Here is their reaction;

2020 Students

The really interested student on the left is “Speedy”, aka William, and the little guy on the right is his new little bro Henry, who came into this world last December. Their mother is my number one daughter, so you can do the math.

Kidding aside, I am really looking forward to being the Grandpa who teaches kids how to make stuff. And once I start, I will blog about it so those with young ones wont run out of ideas. Thoughts?

Back to Bridge City stuff! I was recently asked to participate in a podcast (whatever that is) and if you know what a podcast is, it is called, “It’s Wood”. Here’s the link to the site, go to the episodes tab at the top of the site and the Bridge City piece is Episode 8.

Now that I have let the cat out of the bag, I’m trying to decide how big the detention center is going to be to house these two future reprobates in my pending 400 square foot educational facility…


11 comments on this post:

  1. John,

    I’m a little lost, are you going to build a shop to teach just your grandchildren woodworking, or is it going to be a “public” school?

    Either way, let me know if you need a week of free labor to help built it.


  2. I hear that once you install a soft serve ice cream machine, the rest of the equipment isn’t that important.

  3. Rutager,

    What a cool gesture–thanks.

    I’m doing this on an as afford basis, starting in about 6 months.


  4. Stage one is cheap- dumpster, lemonade and sandwiches; demo it out, well except for concrete removal, that’ll suck a bit.

  5. Fantastic idea! Pay it forward.

    This made me realize I haven’t slept as well as when I took your MASW classes! And the boys are already practicing I see! In spite of the snoring, ‘Museum quality’ still inspires me with every project, so you did something right!

    If the shop opens in 2020, by 2030, they’ll be ready for a motorhome road trip with Grandpa to Indiana. You have a ton to teach and more than a few great stories to tell.


  6. Thanks Neil.

    When I was little (unimaginable I know) and in Cub Scouts, our first woodworking project was a napkin holder constructed out of Popsicle sticks.

    I thought the project was ugly and lame. I really did.

    I immediately conceived of the brilliant idea of starting it on fire in our basement and all was well… until I got caught. Consequently, I was kicked out of Cub Scouts by the den mother who was… my MOM!

    Needless to say, we will not be making anything LAME!


  7. My experience with dog sitting did not allow me that much time for productivity. First, I had to let the dog out. Then I had to let him in. So I could let him out again. So I could let him in again. Scratch him for several minutes, before I let him out again. So I could let him in again…….

  8. Yes, this can be an issue. Thankfully, I haven’t been dog sitting for over a decade now, so it is all work. I scratch myself, go outside, come in and repeat as required!


  9. It was. I worked on a new work holding system for the JMP and some other smaller tools. Coming soon!


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