Something wonderful…

I am not generally a prideful person. At least, I don’t think I am. When I teach classes I tell the students right off the bat that I don’t know everything about saws…far from it. But I do promise to share everything I have learned.

That said, with the completion this past weekend of the first ‘Build a Backsaw’ class at The Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking, I was left with an overwhelming sense of pride and joy. I cannot describe to you with any justice the emotions I experienced as I watched my three students thoughtfully shape their totes, file their teeth and take the first few strokes with their new saws biting into wood.

I am honored to unveilĀ the fruits of their labors….

At the end of the second day of class, I stood next to one of my students and instructed him on how to use a bench hook and saw for the first time. As he eased his new saw forward in the kerf, and felt the teeth dutifully slicing away the transverse fibers of the wood, his face told a story of profound revelation. In that moment, colored only by a single utterance, he rediscovered a power and skill long forgotten and dismissed by our mechanized and virtual world. His eyes widened…his brow lifted…and the smile on his face shone clear across the room. He was seduced in that single moment by the might of a fine tool crafted painstakingly by ones own hands. Simply wonderful.

As we cleaned up the shop and said our good-byes, each student came over to thank me and say how much they enjoyed the class. There was nothing poetic about their words, nothing dramatic about the scene. It was just four guys packing up their tools, sweeping the floor and wrapping up another day of work. But what struck me most about it later on, and what will undeniably stay with me for many years, was the irony of their words…they each thanked me for my time and for the class. They thanked me.

Hmmm. No my friends, it is I who must thank you….for your company, for your attention, for your efforts and for what we learn together on our quest of rediscovery.

Thank you. :)


P.S…..Some of you have emailed with questions about the class, and so if you’re interested in taking the class on building your own backsaw, I’m teaching it again on February 18th and 19th at Shady Lea Woodworking School in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. More info and registration here: ‘Build a Backsaw’


9 Responses to “Something wonderful…”

  1. Now please come out to the northwest for a similar class!

  2. Bill White says:

    Well said Matt. When the students thank the teacher…..
    Keep on keepin’ on.

  3. Will the class schedule be posted on this blog? Echoing Robert’s comment, I live in northern California and I’d love to attend this class if it were pretty much anywhere on the west coast. Are the materials provided? If so, how much are the materials? Thanks!

    • matt says:

      Hi Julien

      Perhaps I was a little too cryptic with my response to Rob…I am not planning on visiting the west coast at this point. I was merely suggesting that if an invitation to teach at a school out there were extended, then I would be willing to entertain the idea.

      As of right now, I am teaching the class in Connecticut and in Rhode Island. The RI class is on Feb 18th and 19th at Shady Lea Woodworking School in North Kingstown. The cost is $400 for the two day class which includes the materials.


  4. Jason Gangl says:

    Hi Matt,
    Could you explain and/or elaborate on the bench top fixture with the holes and vise in the photos of your class.


    • matt says:

      Hi Jason

      Those are ‘bench on bench’ fixtures. They are gaining some popularity in woodworking as of late. It seems to have begun a few years ago following an article in Fine Woodworking about the convenience of having a secondary, small bench to attach to your main workbench. The key is the vise on the benchtop bench…it allows you to clamp your work up high closer to you for fine work. Tools For Working Wood sells a commercial one, and I believe other makers have plans or kits available.

      The little benches in the pictures belong to the school…Bob Van Dyke (the owner) made them and would have more info for you. At the start of the first day I saw a bunch of them on the supplies shelf and just grabbed them….they worked perfectly for saw making. :)


  5. Lukasz Budzynski says:

    Hi Matt!

    Congratulations for your Students and You for the great job. I hope one day You’ll get to Europe for some classes :) Could You tell something about the saws’ construction, please? The backs are brass…are they slotted or folded? Did you Guys do the whole process from the beginning or were the backs ready to tap the blade in?

    Kindest regards,

    • matt says:

      Hi Lukasz

      Thanks for the support…perhaps some day I’ll venture across the pond! :)

      The saws have folded brass backs, which I get from Mike Wenzloff. The backs come folded and require cutting to size, shaping, sanding and polishing. The split nuts are from Tools For Working Wood in New York and the saw plates come with the teeth punched, but require shaping, setting and sharpening.


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