What to expect during a course
Frequently asked questions
We generally run a 9:00 - 5:00 day, with time off for good behaviour at lunchtime, usually around noon. We allow time mid-morning and mid-afternoon for a break.
Weekend classes usually finish at between 4-4:30 on Sunday to allow students allow time to get in line for ferries and start the journey home.
We'll stop about 15 minutes before the scheduled end of the day's activities to clean up the shop.
What to wear
We recommend that you wear comfortable clothes with a close-fitting wrist or short sleeves and sturdy trousers (pants). You may want to bring some layers - we keep the shop at around 65F.
We also recommend that you wear comfortable, supportive shoes. The floor is concrete which can be hard on the legs after a long day, though we do surround each bench with shock absorbent mats.
We do not recommend wearing sandals in the shop - you need to have full foot protection. If that chisel you have just sharpened jumps off the bench we'd rather it was stopped by your shoe!
If your course includes work with the larger woodworking machines we ask that you wear close-fitting clothes; do not wear necklaces or your hair in a ponytail; or wear anything that could get trapped in a spinning blade.
Layering / Outerwear
The climate in Port Townsend is pretty benign. There are relatively few days when it freezes and the average winter midday temperature is in the mid 40's. In the summer the local breezes take the edge off the heat. The temperatures can swing during the day so we recommend that you bring layers appropriate to the season.
Port Townsend is in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains and gets considerably less rain than Seattle. The other benefit is that we can frequently be in the sun when Seattle is cloudy or rainy. However it does rain - we suggest that you consider bringing a lightweight water resistant jacket for those dashes to the Commons (see below).
For our classes using the tablesaw and other dust making woodworking machines we require that students to use personal protection.
We provide one disposable dust mask per student per course. If you lose it or damage you'll need to buy a new one from us. We also have a stock of ear defenders and goggles.
If you wish to bring your own we make these recommendations:
- Ear protection
We recommend that you bring ear protection that works for you. Some folks like ear plugs, others like ear defenders. If you're unsure which will work for you we recommend trying cheap ear plugs and seeing if you can be comfortable wearing them for 20 minutes. If you get uncomfortable we recommend you use ear defenders. They are reasonably priced at most hardware stores.
- Eye protection
Polycarbonate lenses in eyeglasses can provide some flying chip protection but dust can still get in around the sides. We recomend that you get some goggles that work for you. The goggles should sit firmly on your face and, if you wear glasses, sit comfortably over your glasses. Again goggles are available at your local hardware store.
One word of warning: There are goggles available that have rows of tiny vents above the lenses for ventilation - these are not recommended as they can let a lot of dust in - especially when routing.
- Dust protection/ Face Mask
A little dust goes an awful long way. We recommend that you use a disposable mask like a 3M R8511es Respirator Dust Mask. This mask has a couple of straps, an exhalation valve (this is less likely to fog up your glasses) and is lightweight. This is a pretty heavy duty mask and will last a couple of months in the shop. Cost in the $5-6 range.
In Seattle we'd suggest Woodcraft plus any of the stores that service the marine trades.
Tim and Jim both like the Dust Bee Gone faces masks. These are cloth masks that can be washed and cover beards well.
Please park in front of the School in a herringbone pattern. Make sure you leave space for the disabled parking space.
If you are not staying at the Fort, and you choose to visit and park at the Beach or the Artillery Hill Trail Head at Fort Worden you will need a Discover Pass. We strongly recommend that you purchase a Discover Pass if you live in Washington State.
Beverages / Food
The school has a couple of drip coffee machines, a kettle, microwave and fridge. It's cheerful and efficient self service. We stock tea and coffee. We ask for a small donation to help keep the service going.
There is good food and beverages available just a two minute walk away at the Commons Cafe (a great sandwich costs around $6).
Good food is available in Uptown Port Townsend which is a couple minutes drive away. We'll share a map when you come to the school.
Pets / Dogs
We are based at Fort Worden State Park and we have to adhere to State Parks policy on not allowing animals into the building.
Service Dogs and Service Dogs in training may come into and remain in the building.
Dogs need to be on a leash at all times in the Park.
Dogs may be kept outside the building on leash if the leash is secured to a stake or to the picnic bench. If you prefer to keep your dog in your car - we recommend that you park in the shade at an adjacent lot - you may need a Discover Pass. Ask when you arrive.
We are situated in the Old Power House (Building 315) at Fort Worden. We have two teaching spaces - a bench room and machine shop. The bench room is equipped with a large professional quality workbench for each student. Each work bench is stocked with a set of high quality handtools.
If you are just beginning woodworking you do not need to bring any tools along with you. You can use our tools and then base your tool purchases based on that experience.
If you have already started to acquire some handtools, feel free to bring them along. You can learn how to sharpen and tune them and then use them in the class. We recommend that you bring your tools in a tool bag or box for your convenience.
Each bench has storage space for your personal items and project parts.
Traveling by air? Ship your tools to the School
Don't want to lug your tools through the airport and check them in? You can ship your tools to the School via Fedex or UPS. The tools get securely delivered to the Fort Worden Park Office, where we pick them up and will have them waiting for you at the school.
If you choose this shipping route we encourage you to make a secure wooden tool box that will hold the tools safely and not fall apart in transit. We can take no responsibility for the condition of the shipped tools. We recommend that you insure the tools.
Ship the tools to the School's mailing address:
c/o Port Townsend School of Woodworking
200 Battery Way,
We can help ship the tools back for you but only if you supply a prepaid shipping label from either Fedex or UPS (both companies make regular collections at the Fort).
Traveling from Canada?
For students driving into the United States from Canada, be aware that customs officials are trained to keep an eye out for people bringing in tools to make sure they are not working illegally.
Our recommendation is to be forthright with officials about your reason for visiting the United States and present a receipt for the course you are attending.
CELL PHONES AND WIFI
We ask you to put your phone on silent when lectures or demonstrations are happening and to respect the instructors' and other students' focus. If you do receive a call or need to make a call we ask you to step outside (if it is fine) or to step into the machine room.
Cell reception at the School is variable - the building is reinforced concrete. ATT recently expanded their 4G LTE coverage to Port Townsend and works well.
If you are expecting an important call - please use the bench room number (360) 344-4456.
A wireless access point has been installed in the School's benchroom and gives you full access to the Wifi network at Fort Worden.
The Legal Stuff
We will ask you to sign a release form at the start of each class. The release asks you to to be responsible for your own actions during the course. We also ask you to grant us the use of your likeness in any images taken during a class.
If your course includes working with power tools and or woodworking machines we will additionally ask you to read and sign a copy of our general safety procedures.
Our Shop Safety Plan covers the procedures for working at each type of machine.
The General Safety Procedures and the Safety Plan are based on the Univertisty of Washington's Center for the Built Environment Safety Plans and are used with permission. Our thanks to the Center for the Built Environment for letting us adapt their documents.
The links in this section are provided for your information. You do not need to print these documents. We provide copies at the start of a class.
During each class we distribute a questionnaire asking about your experience in the class and ask you to fill it in - either by the end of class or to return it to us by mail.
Your insights, observations and critique are key to us improving the school and developing the best teaching techniques and facilities. Please be honest.
If something isn't working for you in the class room - please let us know during the class so that we can fix it and help you focus on the learning.
Our non-discrimination policy:
"Consistent with our values and beliefs and in accord with the relevant federal and state statutes, the Port Townsend School of Woodworking and Preservation Trades does not discriminate in the admission of students, appointment of staff, or recruitment of members of the Board of Directors or other volunteers on the basis of race, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, gender, or sexual orientation."