Yestermorrow Design/Build School in Waitsfield, Vermont offers over 80 hands-on courses per year in design, construction, woodworking, and architectural craft and offers a variety of courses concentrating in sustainable design. Now in its 35th year, Yestermorrow is one of the only design/build schools in the country, teaching both design and construction skills. Our hands-on 1-day to 3-week workshops, certificate programs and semester programs are taught by top architects, builders, and craftspeople from across the country. For people of all ages and experience levels, from novice to professional.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Adam Riggin Lovin' Learnin' With His Hands In Woodworking Certificate

'Socks' dress up a table leg.

Walking through the wood shop during Week 5 of the Woodworking Certificate program, there is a palpable excitement as the students focus on assembling the components of their traditional shaker-style end tables. This is the moment where every joint they’ve learned to this point will come together in a single piece of furniture. Though the tables emanate from the same design, everyone has pursued their own aesthetic touches. The table sitting in front of me is strikingly different, with ‘socks’ at the base of each leg, and through-mortises— a more modern aesthetic on a traditional piece. In the back of the shop, Adam Riggin, who is the youngest of the group, is busy sanding his end pieces.

Adam has come to the program after finishing his third semester at UVM, where he is studying Community Development & Economics. When asked about taking time off, Adam smiles and explains, “Time off? That’s framing it as if school was the thing to do and everything else was a deviation from that.  School is always going to be there. I love school, but I am interested in other things as well. James Michener has a book called The Drifters, and there’s a guy in it who says that you don’t waste a day in your life before you are thirty-five – the idea being that every experience shapes you as a person and [helps you] get some insight.”
Adam explains that his program at UVM is very theoretical and he found himself longing for something more hands-on. Hailing from East Montpelier, Adam had grown up knowing about Yestermorrow.  His boss during his summer work doing construction was even a Yestermorrow instructor. It was during a conversation with his father last summer that he decided to take a break from college and enroll in the Woodworking Certificate program.

“I spent a couple summers building and that was really fun, but it’s hard to be working and learning at the same time for me because when you’re getting paid to do something, there’s pressure to not make mistakes or to fix things as fast as possible. Being in an educational setting just allows you to, for one thing, take your time, and also, not be afraid to make mistakes and to ask as many questions as you want and get lengthy explanations. It’s a really supportive environment and you couldn’t ask for a better group of people.”

He looks at the end pieces for his shaker table before him and speaks of how satisfying it was to prepare the
wood and get it to its current state. “The assembly has been a challenge for me because I made a couple of mistakes in my layout, so hopefully I will have this all glued-up and ready to install the drawers by the end of the day.”

So what’s next for Adam? He is in no hurry to get back to school. He will be taking another semester off to tour the East Coast and Europe with Village Harmony, a renowned Vermont-based group that teaches world folk music. Peering into the shop later in the day, Adam is smiling at the table before him, now glued and clamped. “This work is so satisfying,” he beams.

By Nic Tuff

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