About our philosophy
At the Back Channel School of Woodworking we believe that woodworking is a satisfying and rewarding endeavor. Sitting at a desk for forty hours or more a week might cause people to forget the simple joy of creating something beautiful and useful with their own hands. We seek to encourage, and enable, people to build things for themselves, and for the people in their lives.
As with most complex skills, mastering the basics through simple practice is the key to success. In woodworking, just as in other crafts, gaps in knowledge lead to frustration and shoddy results. We emphasize basic skills that all woodworkers should possess no matter what type of woodworking they do or would like to pursue. All of our classes are designed with this idea in mind. As with learning to play a musical instrument, we think that fundamental woodworking skills are better learned through more hands on time with immediate feedback.
Our usual class format allows the students to absorb each lesson and practice technique between classes that last over a period of several weeks. We recognize that not everybody lives in Pittsburgh and can attend these classes, however, so we do plan to host week-long courses some time in the future.
By then, you'll have experienced the value of practice and you might want to build a Budget Bench so you can get as much work done at home as possible. The woodworking fundamentals track then continues into the Fundamentals 2 class, which explores a little more in-depth the fine art of furniture making. You'll get lots of experience with the mortise-and-tenon, edge-gluing, shaping and more, and after a mere 12 weeks have a beautiful cherry end table to take home with you. After that, the world is your oyster and you'll have the knowledge and skills to make most any solid wood piece you want.
About our classes
If you're new to the school, but are interested in learning to build things out of wood, be it furniture, birdhouses or wine racks, we recommend the Fundamentals 1 class. We'll get you comfortable using chisels and a backsaw (no need to bring your own) and before long you'll be hand-joining practice blocks. Later, we'll have you tune up a #4 (smoothing) handplane, and by the end of the class you'll have a hand-joined, hand-planed step stool to take home and show off.