Classes Feedback From Our Students

Gilding & Chemical Patination:

Jon G. Aubry, Fort Worth,Texas
Attended December 2016 Gilding & Chemical Patination Class

Your Gilding & Chemical Patination class did not disappoint and it was on par with your other classes, which are always well planned and presented in a warm and inviting atmosphere. The class are well scheduled but not overly structured, written materials are provide supporting what is covered in the class and the work materials provided are always top shelf offering limitless possibilities for students of differing skill levels. David’s vast knowledge of every aspect of what is covered in class is astonishing and his willingness to answer every question asked while still managing the time necessary to guide the class members through a hands on learning experience, it is truly amazing. David also does a great job keeping everyone focused which must be extremely difficult, requiring real patience managing a class with student with varying levels of experience and interest while fielding a barrage of questions from those eager for knowledge.

I know the last statement to be true because I fall into that category myself, I watch the DVD’s many times and arrive for class loaded with questions and sometimes the questions are rapid fire one after another it is that thirst for knowledge and thanks David you handle it well. I would highly recommend attending one or more of the various classes that you offer. I find the cost to attend one of your classes very reasonable especially when you consider the class size and David’s level of expertise and command of the subject matter covered in each class and that is coming from someone who has the addition cost and expense of traveling 1,800 miles to attend a class.

Sorry the email is rather long but I had a lot I wanted to say and thanks to you both again for everything you make a great team.

Mike  O’Connor, Fairbanks Alaska
Attended July 2015 Gilding & Chemical Patination Class

Hi Victoria and David,

Just wanted to write to thank you both for the wonderful Gilding and Chemical Patination Class.  Victoria thank you for your hospitality, for making me feel at home and keeping the class well feed and for allowing us to sit by your pool for lunch.  What a relaxing place to take a break!  David, with this being my 4th class with you, I am still amazed at your knowledge of all the aspects of woodworking.  What is really great is that you have such a wealth of knowledge and skills in woodworking and can willingly explain it so students from beginners to experts can understand.  You are a fabulous woodworker and teacher!  No better combination for running your school.  I certainly look forward to taking more classes with you.

Thanks again and best wishes to you both.


Marquetry & Inlay:

Scott Roth, Denver, Colorado
Attended 2016 Marquetry & Inlay Class, He wrote this review for the American Marquetry Society newsletter.

David Marks is known for his TV series, “Woodworks”, which aired on the DIY & HGTV networks in the early 2000’s.  His skills as a finisher, furniture maker, wood turner, & marquetarian are well documented in books, DVD’s, and collections. An artistic nature guides all of his work and is very infectious throughout the class.  David’s ongoing Q & A presence in the Woodworker West periodical for all things woodworking demonstrates his willingness to share his ideas and aide others.  I participated in his marquetry class during the summer of 2016 at his well equipped 2,200 sq. ft. shop/school located in Santa Rosa, CA. The location is close to the Sonoma/Napa area and lends itself to wine country visits, coastal attractions, along with the San Francisco bay area (an hour to the south).  The shop/school is part of his wonderful, comfortable residence that takes full advantage of the California climate and culture.

While billed as Beginning/Intermediate, the 3 day weekend class offers ample opportunity to explore new materials, processes, and applications for both marquetry and inlay depending on the student’s skill level, curiosity, and artistic bent.   It should be noted that David makes all of his own veneers through resawing dimensional wood, seasoned logs, burls, and roots. You are working with 3/32 thickness material here.  This is not a knife cutting workshop and his collection of band saws (I think I counted 5) offer good access to learning the skills of veneer manufacturing, thicknessing, & processing although this is not a focus of the workshop.  If you have experience using thinner, commercial veneers, this will be a change and will take some adjusting of habits. I had not worked extensively with thicker custom made veneers and found the process to be an educationally expanding one.  Using thicker material eliminates allot of the thin veneer fragility frustrations and provides a more stable work piece almost completely eliminating veneer taping by using PVA glue for the assembly process.  When incorporating other materials, the heavier veneers allow for “pockets” or “wells” to accept the additions. There are other creative aspects of thicker wood such as inlay and light carving to be explored, as well.  Final leveling is accomplished with a variable speed Jet oscillating horizontal drum sander making quick work without arduous scraping, leveling, and hand sanding.

He owns & enlists variable speed Dewalt and Excalibur power scroll saws equipped with foot pedal controls that are well maintained and calibrated for the double bevel method of instruction that he teaches.  These compliment additional woodshop equipment that would be expected in a professional shop/school environment.  Keeping his classes small allows easy use of equipment with little or no wait time.  Smaller class size allows more personal contact as well.  Although there will be new students to marquetry that will demand more of his attention, David’s patience, creativity, and care make everyone involved feel welcome and involved.  His well supplied shop gives more advanced students access to materials such as shell, metals, epoxies, dyes, color powders, and even dental amalgams (gold and silver dental filling material) among others, for use and experimentation. Each of the three days starts with a demonstration of materials or processes that can be incorporated into the individual’s work. It is strongly recommended that a subject for the class project be developed prior to attending the workshop. Each student produces a unique work.   Due to the compressed timeframe, spending workshop time selecting and developing a picture for production wastes the value of having access to David and his resources.

His ample supply of various precut veneers means students have immediate resources for starting a marquetry piece. The student is not limited to these and if David sees a creative opportunity to add a certain wood, color, or material, he will take the time to quickly produce/find just the right accent or enhancement and use this as a teaching opportunity for the class.   It is important to note that early in the workshop David, his wonderful wife, Victoria, and assistant, Dan, will stress that a completed picture is not the final goal of this workshop so “developing” is an important concept here. Do not expect to leave with a finished, mounted work.  You will, however, leave with expanded knowledge and inspiration to carry into your marquetry and veneer work along with many new woodworking friends.

Bob Fontana, Potomac, MD
July 2010 Marquetry & Inlay Group Class 

Many years ago, I watched nearly every episode of David’s “Woodworks” on TV’s DIY channel.  I was fascinated to see how beautiful pieces of furniture could be built using the simplest of tricks.  These shows got me hooked, and soon I started putting together a small basement shop to try some of this on my own.  My real love became marquetry, and by watching a Woodworks’ episode and reading/watching everything I could find on the Internet, I became “self-taught” on the subject.  But, as I attempted a more complex piece (Hokusai’s famous woodblock print of the “Wave” as a part of a jewelry box design), I hit a number of roadblocks.  I then remembered David’s Woodworks show, and was pleased to find out that he was actually teaching a course on marquetry out in Santa Rosa — a bit of a drive from the Washington, DC area, but I had to give it a try!

I took David’s marquetry course, convincing my brother-in-law in Seattle to take it with me, and quickly discovered the missing pieces to what I was attempting to do.  The class was excellent, but there are several folks that also teach marquetry, some much closer to me than David.  What really became important to me, and which greatly improved my woodworking skills, were the numerous tips and techniques that David freely shared during the class.  Marquetry can be rather flat and monochrome, but David “spiced” it up with colored epoxies, beautifully colored acrylic pen blanks, gilding ideas and other techniques.  Upon my return home, I retackled the Hokusai woodblock design, completing it using many of the new techniques and ideas that I learned in the class.  I submitted my finished box to a juried woodworking contest in Seattle — the box received First Place and the People’s Choice Award!

Bentwood Lamination

David Brown, San Jose, CA
Attended 2016 Bentwood Lamination Class

I am just finishing up a hollow form project for the stand I made in the bent wood lamination class and wanted to share the results with you.  This is by far the most complex turning project I have done to date.  Even though I did have some experience with bent wood lamination and segmented turning in the past, David’s class taught me many new tips and techniques that have elevated the level of my projects.

I wanted to learn tapered bent lamination techniques as I always wanted to try a create a turned hollow form with a stand that was inspired by many of David’s pieces.  We didn’t quite finish up the stands in the class and I decided after I got home that I should park the stand parts we made and make a hollow form for the stand first….  Following David’s guidance from all previous classes, I drew up a plan first for the hollow form and re-drew the plan for the stand to match it loosely working from the dimensions of the parts we made.

A big take away for me from David’s class was not only the bent lamination, but the concept to create jigs to accomplish what you want to do safely and with accuracy – so thanks!  After I dry fit the tapered legs to the stand, I decided the wedge and maple lines at the top bevel of the legs were a little distracting, so I fitted little ebony caps for each leg and like how it looks now.

I still have a few coats of finish to go on this project, but here are some iPhone snapshots I wanted to share as I am really pleased with how it turned out.  When it’s all done, I take some more studio quality pictures.

I hope you are enjoying the holidays.

Best wishes for a great 2017,


Private Class on Making Dovetails

Bob Fontana, Potomac, MD
June 16 & 17, 2015 Private Class on Making Dovetails

If I had to summarize my experiences with David’s classes, I think I would say that it was very much like a compressed apprenticeship.  I’m a retired electrical engineer, and my first job out of school put me in the capable hands of an experienced microwave circuit designer.  I learned more from him in 1 month, than I had in 4 years of college.  Studying with David feels much the same, I learned more in 2 to 5 days than I think I could have learned in a year of more of working on my own.  David’s classes have brought my woodworking skills to a much higher level.