Degree in Wood as a 3-D Media?

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Degree in Wood as a 3-D Media?

Postby Louis Patterson » Thu Oct 18, 2018 11:12 pm

Hey all, this is my first post!

So, I was wondering if anyone here would have any advice on whether or not going to college for a woodworking degree would be a good idea. The course I'm considering applying to seems to go quite deep into fine woodworking (mostly things necessary for furniture is what it seems to be focused on). I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not to go to college to further my knowledge in this field. I really really enjoy woodworking, and I would like to be able to more easily learn what I should know instead of teaching myself. The tuition would be fairly low, and I will have completed my gen-ed by the next application season, so it'll be 2 years at community and 2 years at Long Beach where the program is. I have lots of time to decide, I know I want to make things with wood (instruments specifically, but in California beggars can't be choosers when it comes to things like this), and I want to be set on the right path to do it.

Any advice at all would be appreciated.
Long live Reichel.
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Re: Degree in Wood as a 3-D Media?

Postby Barry Daniels » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:04 am

I think a degree like that would be useful if you planned on managing a commercial woodworking or furniture construction business. I don't see it being very useful for being a guitar builder unless you worked at a guitar factory.
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Re: Degree in Wood as a 3-D Media?

Postby Steve Sawyer » Fri Oct 19, 2018 2:37 pm

Louis - look for an opportunity to intern under a practicing ctaftsman. Not only will you learn the practical aspect of your craft, you will also likely pick up a wealth of business knowledge as well. I have a friend who interned with Michael Fortune and went on to produce bespoke one-of-a-kind pieces for very wealthy clients for many years.

Note that you will likely absorb the master's aesthetic in the process, so if you have a choice, choose wisely.
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Re: Degree in Wood as a 3-D Media?

Postby Karl Wicklund » Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:35 am

That depends on your purpose. Generally speaking a college degree will have a broader curriculum - philosophy, aesthetics, history design context... If that part of your passion, college is a great route. If you mostly want to get your hands on wood, I’d look for internship/apprentice possibilities. And most Masters of any craft will offer the mind and soul parts of the work, too, though maybe not formally.
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Re: Degree in Wood as a 3-D Media?

Postby Bob Gramann » Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:20 pm

I can’t speak directly to a technical degree, my undergraduate degree is in math (but I took as many courses in other areas as I could) but my prejudice is to get as much education in as much as you can while you can. If you go to college for a woodworking degree, take as many courses in as many other fields as you can. There are some things I wish I didn’t know, but most of those I’ve seen on news programs or in the paper. I’ve never regretted any of my education. If you have the opportunity to go to college and to intern, do both. You don’t know what opportunies you’ll meet in 20 years. The more well-rounded your education is, the better you will be able to take advantage of those opportunities.
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Re: Degree in Wood as a 3-D Media?

Postby Karl Wicklund » Sun Oct 21, 2018 9:22 am

I agree, Bob. You said some things I overlooked better than I would have.
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Re: Degree in Wood as a 3-D Media?

Postby Randolph Rhett » Mon Oct 22, 2018 11:49 am

I don’t know about Long Beach, but Cerritos and Palomar both have excellent woodworking programs. The skills you learn in two years would take you a decade to learn as an apprentice. Palomar even has instrument building as a part of its program. As for learning guitar building from working in a guitar factory, I’ll just say that we had a student at Palomar who worked in the Taylor factory for five year and quit because he wanted to learn how to make guitars.

Where that gets you as far as making a living and providing for yourself, I don’t know. Palomar tries to conceive of its program as prepping young entrepreneurs looking to start a business in boutique manufacturing (hence the instrument program). But the truth is there are precious few jobs in custom furniture and cabinetry anymore. And there are a dozen stories of failed businesses based on high end craftsmanship for every success. Still, the knowledge, skills, shop safety, and exposure to the community you can get from going to school is invaluable.
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Re: Degree in Wood as a 3-D Media?

Postby Louis Patterson » Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:08 am

I had looked at the Cerritos college program and am also seriously considering it. I know that I'm going to end up learning many other things in my schooling, and I think that because I am relatively new to woodworking, getting very direct knowledge from a school like Randolph suggested is a good idea. Being able to learn much more quickly and directly is definitely the answer I wanted to hear and it sounds like a good deal but is it too good to be true? I suppose that also being around many other woodworkers daily would also be very beneficial. There is an artsy furniture program at CalArts which seems interesting, maybe I will look into that as it seems to get technical but also is still an art program which I like.

Thanks everyone for responding.
Long live Reichel.
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