Foundations of Woodworking

Project brief



Humanmade is a public workshop offering access to industrial tools and equipment. To use the equipment new members must take short training sessions called FSOs (Fundamental Safety and Operations). Initially, these trainings suited the mostly experienced member base. However the training was often not sufficient for inexperienced members. While it provided them the skills to stay safe within the shop, it did not give them the skills required to use the space efficiently and confidently.

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The course was designed using adult learning principles to ensure relevance and effectiveness.

  • The course is project-based, with the projects being both immediately useful to participants and also including skills that can be directly applied to their first independent projects.
  • Projects emphasize practical skills over theory, abstract theory and concepts are only introduced when they are immediately applicable to the projects.
  • The development process followed a backwards-design process. I started with the projects themselves, which covered a wide variety of skills. Then the rest of the class content worked backwards to introduct the necessary skills and knowledge to complete those projects.
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The solution

The course consists of 8 sessions over 4 weeks on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The first week focuses on safely using key tools, while subsequent weeks involve completing new projects. The instruction is scaffolded, with significant support in the first week, and increasing independence each subsequent week.

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The results

  • As an unexpected effect, the course attracted new members unfamiliar with Humanmade or makerspaces, seeking woodworking skills.
  • Trainees showed more autonomy than those who only took FSO training, requiring less staff supervision and assistance.
  • Trainees were more likely to become members and remain members longer than those who only took FSO training.
  • Video examples

    Turning a bowl

    A short promotional video showing a montage of how to turn a small bowl on the wood lathe. Meant to encourage new members to try the wood lathe training.

    Saw blade choice

    A short video showing the benefits and drawbacks of the most common styles of table saw blades.

    CMS training

    The organization is changing from one CRM system to another. This is a brief video showing how to book workshop equipment in the new system.

    What is CNC

    An introduction to CNC machines at the Humanmade woodshop. What they can do, their history, and how something goes from digital design to being cut.


    Look below to learn more about me and to see a selection of my recent work. If you want to work with me directly you can also reach out, I love to work with individuals and organizations to spread workshop knowledge and skills.

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