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Carving Beauty

JEREMY MORRISON, Sierra Sun

Taped inconspicuously to the worktable is the pencil-scrawled philosophy of a master craftsman: “Make nice things for nice people.” Hidden away in his small Tahoma workshop, Barclay Moore patiently toils away, letting his stew simmer while others race toward the drive-thru.

“I build custom furniture. I’ve been doing it in this hole for 15 years,” Moore said, squeezing in between his table and a work-in-progress.

The furniture that emerges from Moore’s workshop isn’t the normal showroom fare; it is of the sort that is passed down through the generations, the sort that evokes conversation and awe.

Moore has been practicing his craft – nay, his art – since the late 1970s. While day-jobbing as an upstate-New York ski instructor, the young woodworking hopeful furthered his knowledge during a two-year apprenticeship before taking on the dual role of student and teacher.

“Most of the education comes from studying yourself,” he said, explaining that the lessons learned while working on one project correlate to the next.

Now, after 20 years of teaching himself, Moore is sharing his knowledge with others. Having taught a handful of students last winter – mostly working carpenters looking to expand their knowledge – the West Shore furniture maker is looking forward to instructing other aspiring craftsmen.

“My goal is to raise the level of woodworking,” Moore said, referring to his Tahoe Wood School. “It’s a positive thing. It’s a good thing for Tahoe.”

Because his workshop does not offer ample elbow room – “A starving artist can’t afford that kind of thing” – Moore has arranged to conduct his classes in the shop room of the Tahoe Truckee High School. According to Moore, the classes will include lectures as well as hands-on woodworking exercises.

Having been raised by teaching parents, in addition to spending the last two decades giving lessons on the slopes (he currently teaches skiing at Squaw Valley USA), Moore has the art of instruction flowing through his veins.

“I like to teach. Beginners or experts, it doesn’t make a difference,” Moore said. “Teaching is teaching, it’s definitely a patience sport.”

Students who enroll in Moore’s classes (ranging from an introductory level class to more advanced instruction) will not be churning out heirlooms upon graduation. His students will, however, be given the necessary road maps that, if followed, can lead to eventual virtuosity.

More than anything else, Moore’s instruction will raise his students’ appreciation of quality woodworking, as well as the process through which such work is arrived.

“I think there’s a renaissance in custom woodworking,” Moore explained. “I think people see the schlock that’s out there and realize if you buy it, you’ll have to buy it again in eight or 10 years; this stuff I’m building, I’m hoping will be their grandchildren’s.”

Classes

Tahoe Wood School classes are being held at the Tahoe Truckee High School on Donner Pass Road. The hands-on shop classes require completion of the introductory workshop. For information, call 525-7608 or E-mail barclaym@jps.net.

— Marking Gauges and Winding Sticks, plus The Art of Sharpening: Jan. 13 and 14; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday; all abilities, hands-on.

— The Shaker Table: Jan. 23, 25, 27, 30; Feb. 1, 3; Tuesday and Thursdays 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunday, Feb. 4, is an overflow day); hands-on, material fee.

— An Heirloom Dovetailed Box: Feb. 24, 25; March 3, 4; Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sundays 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; intermediate and above, material fee.

— Make a Smoothing Plane: March 6, 8, 13, 15, 20; 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.; all abilities, plane iron fee.

— Intro to Fine Woodcraft Series: Jan. 9, 11, 16 and 18; 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.; all abilities, lecture format.


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