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Tony GroveWhat qualifies me to teach woodworking
by Tony Grove

When a person reaches that time in their life when they possess a rich storehouse of experience and skills in a particular sphere, I believe they are almost duty-bound to pass on that knowledge for the benefit of future generations. This truth was recently driven home to me when my dear friend and boatbuilder go-to guy passed away from cancer, taking with him all that knowledge and leaving a gaping hole in life with his family and friends.

I first considered the idea of teaching in 1997. I had been working in the woodworking and boatbuilding field for almost 20 years when I was asked to guest lecture a class “History of Furniture and Design”. It was then I realized I loved sharing my knowledge and felt I had a lot to offer, so at that point decided to focus more on lecturing, and eventually, to teaching. I didn’t have to wait long for an opportunity. In 1999 I was hired as a second instructor for the then-new Silva Bay Shipyard School on Gabriola Island, where I taught Boatbuilding for six months over that winter.

For my first real teaching experience, I realized fast I was very green. I had to assimilate and decipher all the little things I had just instinctively done in the woodworking shop, putting them into teachable words. While teaching all that I knew, I also had to quickly teach myself what I didn’t know so I could keep up with the advanced students. I also learned that being an instructor is not just about teaching: it is also understanding the rich complexities of people, personalities and group dynamics that we all must contend with every day.

Recognizing the school facilities would empty for the summer, I approached the management about running a summertime program specifically on building Ships Cabinetry, which was given the green light. My work was then really cut out for me; I had two months to write a new curriculum from scratch because at that time, no other school in the world was teaching a course on building boat interiors, and there were nearly no good books on the subject. So my approach became to teach all the things I wish I had been taught in my first year of my apprenticeship that I eventually had to teach myself, as well as all I knew about boat interiors from what I had learned from building them, plus incorporate my fine furniture building knowledge. While that first class was a ton of work, it was rewarding and ultimately a success as all the students – and in turn the management - were very happy at the end. I eventually became the Silva Bay Shipyard School’s head instructor, teaching the Boatbuilding and Ships Cabinetry classes, as well as Introduction to Woodworking and various weekend courses.

By 2005 I needed a break and found the school a replacement and took a sabbatical. After deciding not to return based on personal life changes, I went back to working quietly in my shop building and restoring wooden boats and building furniture. I kept my hand in teaching by continuing to lecture, write articles and teach part-time for various schools around North America. I continue to participate annually in wooden boat festivals were I am a judge for the Victoria Classic Boat Festival and continue lecturing on boat interiors at the Port Townsend Wooden boat festival, where I have done so going on 11 years now.

From nearly six years of teaching full-time and by staying involved with the world of teaching, I have not only met some great people, but have learned exponentially more about my trade and craft relative to when I first started woodworking. I have reached a point in my life where I feel confident in all that I know and teach, and am passionate about sharing that information.  I still love to learn and I`ll be the first to admit I don’t know everything, but I do know where to go and get the right answers. From the wealth of information that I`ve absorbed from experience, others and mentors in the field, I am at the point where I want to impart that critical knowledge that will enable any student to excel in the field of woodworking.


1999-2005 Instructor and Head Instructor at Silva Bay Shipyard School Gabriola Island BC
June-Aug 2008 Instructing Yacht Joinery at the "Great Lakes Boat Building School" Michigan USA
Aug 2007 Teaching Boat Lofting to Shipwright Apprentices "Camosun Collage" Victoria BC
2002 ongoing Guest Speaker at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival "Boat Interiors"
July 2012 Teaching Custom Door Making, Timber Frame School
2009 Sept, ongoing Judge for annual "Victoria Classic Boat Festival"
May 2012 Beach wood Bench Building – through Island of the Art
1998 Woodshop Technical Assistant "Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design" BC


1999-2002 Instructor Programs – How to teach, curriculum & lesson plan design
1996 Interior Design Program
1985 Vancouver Community College – Computer Drafting – CAD/CAM
1983-1995 Emily Carr School of Art and Design – Varied Fine Art courses
1981 Drafting – BCIT
1980-1984 Journeyman Boat Building Apprenticeship, Vancouver Shipyards & Cooper Yachts


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