I Am Project Mayhem And So Can You.

Several years ago, really when I was just beginning to get a sense of myself in the shop and learning new skills everyday, I sat at a table with a couple of big names in woodworking. They were teaching classes at a "The Woodworking Show" stop in Milwaukee. 

The person who asked me to sit and visit was kind and encouraging. He runs a woodworking school so that's only good business. 

The second, a legendary figure in writing about hand tool woodworking was pretty aloof. I wasn't in his radar. It felt a little rude, but it was ok. 

The third is a major figure in one of the bigger woodworking magazines. He was happy to talk to me, but he was also more than happy to shit all over any of my notions about hand tool woodworking and making any kind of living based around woodworking. At that point In my process I needed encouragement and guidance way more than cynicism and discomfiture I was handed. Reading between his lines it was obvious his view of woodworking was mostly reserved for old, retired, men.  
The man is hailed as an leading educator and that only makes the experience so much more disappointing. 

A few weeks ago I had the privilege to hang out and help Mike Seimsen teach a class that was exactly the opposite of my early encounter . . . well in Mike's own taciturn way. It was the continuation of the Baby Anarchist classes that Chris Schwarz started a year ago. It's subversive in all the ways I love. A low cost introduction to hand tool rehab, set up, and use focused on young energetic bodies. 

It reminds me of the book Fight Club, with Tyler Durden branching out to start new clubs in new cities until the movement grew larger than the energy of one man. 

When Chris retired from teaching it looked like this class would retire too, but Mike scheduled classes and continued the work, (with Chris's blessing and support). Watching the week long evolution of this group was inspiring. They have the tools, skill sets, and confidence it took me several years to find casting around on my own. I'm more than a little jealous. 

I would like to see these classes multiply and find more teachers and venues. A Project Woodworking Mayhem spread across the country. Hell, I'd love the chance to teach one myself. 

Mike is going to continue teaching the class, he's already finished a second session and I believe has another scheduled for the fall. If you are interested or find or hear someone who is, clue them in. I know these classes are also in need of donations of both tools and money to help them survive. Drop Mike an email and ask what he needs to continue. 

Ratione et Passionis


  1. Mike’s Naked Woodworker DVD is a great repsentation of the entire mindset. “Here’s a few tools to buy, a quick bench… now get to work!”. He’s a great representative for the woodworking community.

  2. Derek,
    Both sessions were fun to teach and the students were great. I also had some help from some great volunteers like yourself which made the class even better for the students. I haven't decided whether I will do a fall class or wait until next year. Thanks again for your hep and kind words.

  3. Derek,
    That sultry week at the Project Mayhem Day Spa isn't one I'll soon forget. I for one had a great time soaking up the knowledge from Mike et al and cracking wise all week. Thanks for helping out and making my bald spot internet famous. I hope I donate to future class sooner than later in the name of Robert Paulson. Cheers.

  4. In every endeavor, there are ALWAYS people who seem to get off on raining on your parade.....telling you that your plans are foolish.

    I don't know why they do this. It is especially egregious when a TEACHER of all people, does it. teachers are supposed to inspire...not crush.

    I've run into this all my life starting as a kid. I just learned to smile and think of two words in my mind...and they aren't "Let's Dance"


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