Frequently Asked Questions
In our FAQ section we try to present answers to many common student questions. You may also find answers to your questions in the Terms, Conditions, and Policies section of our website.
If you have very little experience in woodworking techniques and working with tools, then you should enter our Professional Training at the Basic Level. If you have some significant experience either as a professional or a well-rounded hobbyist, then the Intermediate level might be appropriate. Master-Level courses are for people who are already at a professional skill level. If you think you fit into the Intermediate or Master-Level categories, give us a call for a brief conversation and we’ll determine that together. Afterwards, If it’s still not clear, we can arrange for a Skills Assessment to determine which level is best for you.
When a student wishes to enroll in MSF’s Intermediate or Master-Level course without having taken the previous course prerequisite, we need to make sure their experience and skill level is appropriate. Usually, this can be done quickly and informally by speaking to an instructor – who will then make a determination to permit enrollment. There is no fee for this brief process. However, sometimes we need to conduct a more detailed review of the student’s experience and skill level and we do this through our Skills Assessment process. The Assessment is usually done by one of our senior instructors who reviews the student’s experiential resume and training history (we ask the student to provide this information to us in writing). We’ll also take a look at photos representing the student’s portfolio of projects. We only conduct the Skills Assessment for students who are certain that they want to enroll in our Professional Training series but are unsure of which course is best for them as a starting point. We charge $100 for the Assessment. The Assessment fee is credited in full towards the tuition for one Professional Course taken within 12 months of the Assessment. This means that there is no cost for the Assessment if the student enrolls within a year, and there is a $100 cost if they do not enroll within that time frame.
Usually, missing 1 or 2 classes during a 12-week professional series is not disruptive to the student’s progress or the class. This is because the instructor can work with you over the course of the next several classes to help you catch up. However, if the instructor determines that the missed class contained essential core concepts, or you missed more than a few classes, we’ll ask that you make them up via paid private or shared tutorials at your earliest opportunity. If you decline, then it is the instructor’s discretion to allow you to continue in the course. If you are permitted to continue without making up missed, essential classes, then you will not receive a Certificate of Achievement at the end of the course and you will not be eligible to attend the next course level (Intermediate or Master-Level) until you do make up the missed material. Depending on the material you missed and at the instructor’s discretion, you may have up to one-year to make up the missed class and earn your Certificate of Achievement. If the instructor feels that it would be in your best interest and that of the other students for you to withdraw because the missed material clearly puts you out of synch with the course objectives, then we will request that you do so according to our policies.
Projects & Skills Workshops (PSW) are shorter courses and so each class represents a more significant portion of the course. If you are taking the PSW class as a concurrent requirement with your Professional Training series (e.g., the Business Practices class), then the policy for missing the class is outlined in the question above in the description for missing the Professional Training classes. Making up a missed PSW is purely optional for other students. If a PSW student desires to make up missed material, it can be done via a paid private or shared tutorial outside of class time. If you are a PSW student and do not make up a missed class, you will not receive a Certificate of Attendance at the end of the course. PSW students who are not concurrently enrolled in our Professional Training have up to 3 months from the class end-date to make up missed material and qualify to receive their Certificate of Attendance, if they wish to do so.
Paid private or shared tutorials allow students to quickly make-up material from missed classes or address areas of challenge, during a specially scheduled session with an instructor. These sessions are either private or shared with 1-3 other students and are conducted during open shop time, outside of regularly scheduled class. An instructor may suggest a tutorial to a student or, more often, the student will request the session. Tutorials are most often utilized by students in our Professional Courses, but students in our Projects & Skills Workshops may also make use of them. The fee for these tutorials is based on the amount of time the instructor and student arrange for the tutorial and how many other students might be sharing the instructor during that period. The tutorial fee will be quoted beforehand when these factors are determined.
MSF may open select Professional Training classes to the public on a space-available basis (e.g. Business Practices). In these cases the class is both a segment of our Professional Training series and a Project & Skills Workshop (PSW). We do this when the content of the class suits both audiences (professional and amateur) and has no prerequisite. The PSW student will pay a fee to attend the class, but the cost of the class is already included in the tuition paid by students in our Professional Training.
No, we do not. However, our training courses are comprehensive and substantial, and our instructors are respected industry professionals, so including MSF Certifications on your resume will give you an advantage over other self or on-the-job trained candidates when it comes to career prospects.
We don’t generally work from syllabi. Instead, we teach from the list of skills outlined on our Professional Training page. Each class covers defined skills and topics, but we give instructors the leeway to subtly modify sequence and pacing in order to honor the progress of students. This keeps things moving in an organic, optimum manner.
Because our teaching model relies so heavily on individual mentoring, differences in skill level between students within the same class aren’t disruptive. On the contrary, students enjoy seeing the differences in ability and project work being done by classmates. While we do offer small group lectures and demonstrations, we do not subscribe to an “observe and repeat” style of teaching. Unlike many schools that expect students to move forward as a collective body, MSF offers guidance to students in a way reflective of what each student needs – when they need it. For example, one student may need more time to hone their skills with joinery than the rest of the class – but they may grasp design concepts faster – so we mentor them appropriately. Teaching proceeds at a pace designed to help each student accomplish their chosen project in a manner consistent with their progress.
Any student can apply for Work Study at MSF. Work Study students act as monitors for Open Shop – periods of time when the shop is available to students and class is not in session. We want the shop to be open for students as much as possible, but there must always be at least 2 people present, for safety reasons. The monitor’s job is to be that second person, as well as to make sure that all policies are honored, that the shop is left in good order, etc. If the shop is not fully attended, the monitor can also work on his or her own projects during that time. Work Study students trade 40 hours of shop monitoring time per quarter for a reduction in their final payment of tuition ($350). MSF determines the schedule. Our preference is to assign Work Study to students experiencing financial hardship first, but anyone can apply by letting us know at the time of registration that they are interested in this opportunity. Assignments are not made until the Professional series class session begins.
Prerequisites are posted for one of two reasons. Either the class is taught at a level that requires students to know basic or certain skills already, or we want to ensure that students can handle tools and operate machines safely. If you have a question about prerequisites, give us a call. Some instructors will accept partial experience as satisfying a prerequisite. In addition, some instructors will arrange to do a private tutorial for a student (for a fee) prior to a class so that they meet the prerequisite and can attend.
We have a small refrigerator on the premises that is shared by the instructors and students. It is for day use only and items may not be stored over night. You are welcome to put things in the refrigerator, marked with your name, during the day of your class. We are not responsible for items stored in the refrigerator. We do not allow food or liquids in the machine room at any time, and only covered liquids in the classroom. We ask students to only eat during food breaks and to be thoughtful of the space and each other in keeping things clean. Please note that there are also several places within walking distance of the school where students can lunch, if they wish.