Learn Woodworking: Southwest School of Woodworking

A proud student shows the Arts and Crafts table she built at the Southwest School of Woodworking.

When Raul Ramirez started learning woodworking in the 1970s, the Arizona desert posed a couple of serious obstacles: Few trees and even fewer teachers.

Those obstacles persist, naturally enough, though Ramirez is doing what he can to remove one of them. In a light-industrial neighborhood near Sky Harbor airport, the custom furniture maker began offering classes two years ago in a shop once occupied by a local guitar-making school.

He has assembled an experienced teaching staff of Phoenix-area professionals – builders of cabinets and custom furniture. The school also hosts workshops with guest lectures by out-of-town heavyweights.

The school regularly offers three courses on fundamental woodworking skills, two courses of finishing, a course on router basics and another on advanced veneering techniques. Classes meet at night to accommodate work schedules for students and faculty.

The facility is more rustic than Ramirez would like, but it offers the students plenty in the way of woodworking resources. The shop holds a full complement of floor-standing machines including two cabinet saws, three bandsaws, a pair of chop saws, jointers, thickness planers and a shaper.
Also, in line with the school’s emphasis on hand tools, there are nine workbenches. Ramirez hopes to add three more in the near future.

Ramirez says there is still plenty of time to sign up for the classes that begin early next year. For detail’s, visit the school’s site at www.swcfc.org.

“My attitude is that everyone should be a woodworker,” he says.

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