I would like to tell you about a remarkable man. His name is Keith Cruickshank. He runs a video blog: www.woodtreks.com. This is no ordinary woodworking blog. Out of his interest in woodworking and the goodness of his heart, Keith seeks out woodworkers of exceptional talent and reputation. He travels to their work site and takes high quality videos of them demonstrating some aspect of their expertise.
So what Keith is providing is private tutorials from real experts. Now I have learned that there are three learning styles. One is auditory. These people learn from reading or hearing someone speak. The second is visual. These need to see what is being presented. Then there are the hands on learners who need to hear it, see it, work with it and talk about it.
When we teach, if we do not provide adequate learning experiences for all three learning types, some will be left behind. I have people come to me and ask me to show them skills in my shop because, unlike me, they find it impossible to learn from a book. Just let them see it done or try it themselves and they have it.
With his very well done videos, Keith comes as close to providing for all three learning styles as is possible using a single medium. There is a running commentary on what is being done as it is being done. The expert talks the student through the demonstration at the same time he is performing the work. Due to the high quality video camera work it is almost like being in the room with the expert.
The subjects of the videos, which are very to the point and not overly long, cover a very wide range of topics from lumber selection to proper sharpening techniques to how to make perfectly fitting dovetail joints. You may not have a need for every subject covered but if you watch, I guarantee that you will learn something. In fact you might find that you are inspired to do something that you have not done before.
There are a lot of woodworking DVDs on the market and some are very good but they mostly are by one expert and all cost money. Keith’s site is completely free. I don’t know how he manages to do this as his trips may last days and cover considerable distances. Yet he keeps coming up with new and, to me at least, very interesting subjects.
Since the videos are short you can cover a lesson in one easy sitting. All the previous subjects are indexed so you can pick and choose the areas of your interest. No sitting for an hour or more to find the one piece of information you need. For your convenience you can elect to receive e-mail reminders whenever a new video is produced.
I spoke with Keith recently to try to find out what motivates him to provide this wonderful service free of charge. He told me that he had a background in computing and a love of digital photography. These qualities coupled with a life long interest in woodworking have put him on a mission of helping to link experts, many of whom are not widely known, with those who thirst for this knowledge. The quality of the subject matter and the execution are really exceptional in my opinion.
There are several thoughts that come to mind. First I feel that we should take advantage of the knowledge being presented in this unusual site. It will make us better woodworkers. Second, I think we should encourage other woodworkers to visit the site. Third, I think we should express our gratitude for the service being given by giving Keith some feedback on how much you enjoy what he has created. Having recently celebrated my 70th birthday, I can vouch for the fact that this kind of information was just not available when I was starting in woodworking. There was an occasional book or journal and that was it. You never knew the quality of the book until you bought it. Until Fine Woodworking started to be published in the 1970s, the quality of the journals was not so high.
So, I want to voice my gratitude to Keith for the service he is providing to woodworkers and hope that he is inspired to continue this labor of love. Woodworking is much easier and more fulfilling due to his educational efforts. Don’t miss his blog!