A beautiful new wood construction center at Seattle Central Community College has been built in response to an uptick in woodworking jobs, giving area residents a modern space in which to learn old-world craftsmanship. Many trades took a hit during the recession, but recent projections show that demand for wood products is experiencing a slow but steady increase. That includes new housing construction and remodeling.
“Residential construction will drive much of that growth, with pent-up demand for housing, moderately rising home prices, and growing consumer confidence having the most influence,” says Craig Adair, market research director of APA, the Engineered Wood Association.
Many of the woodworkers taking advantage of the new Seattle facility are new to the craft, coming to it from professions ranging from fishermen to physicians. At the workshop, students learn basic woodworking skills while working on community projects, like turning lumber from trees cut in a local park into picnic benches for that same park.
In addition to cabinetry and carpentry, the center teaches boat building. The center recently acquired a 28-foot cruiser built on Lake Union in the 1920s. The boat, which is no longer seaworthy, will be rebuilt again and again over the coming years as students learn to make repairs, restore rotted areas, and remodel the interior.
Woodworking learning centers aren’t limited to college campuses. Small, private schools like the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine also teach traditional skills, with hands-on, in-depth training. Community woodworking shops are another new trend, offering shared equipment for a fee.