Training In


From original questioner:

I recently hired a part time employee.
He has some limited experience with carpentry.
He completed a woodworking course in basic carpentry skills including, basic machining and building his own project at the end to "graduate".
My question is how long should it take someone to learn:
1) Using a jointer/planner.
2) table saw.
3) how to break down sheet goods.
I seemed to spend an inordinate (to me) amount of time training him up on the basics of using a jointer 3 hrs or so.
Of course I spent much of the time on safety and basic first aid stuff like that but also the general principles of how to diagnose a problem with a board and what parallel and 90 degrees means.
Is this common?
He has worked before in the industry.
How do you guys approach new employee training?
I can't just throw him to the wind and see which way he blows.

From contributor ca

What you may want to consider is videotaping this presentation. With video you get a chance to understand what he sees and a chance (on your own schedule) to improve what he sees.

The problem with most training systems is that only about 90% of the information gets disseminated. If 90% of that input is actually received and 90% of that retained you already lose 1/4 of the knowledge. More realistically the percentages are probably closer to 70-80%. Do the math and you will see why it's so hard to convey the information in a way that actually has some stickiness.

Teaching someone to run your widebelt sander with a video means you don't have to shout over the roar of the machine. Teaching with a video means you can add the written word to the tutorial. The word COPE probably doesn't make much sense to a civilian. It probably makes less sense when they hear it as lumber is actually being coped. If you augment audio with visual your guy is probably going to learn quicker.

Imagine if you will someone taking a sharp pencil and stabbing a paper dixie cup a bunch of times then filling it with water then saying "here son, drink of the knowledge". What do you think is going to happen?

If you can develop a viable training program it will open up the world to a much wider group of viable employees. With a greenhorn you already know everything you have to get into his head. The problem with hiring a "experienced" guy is that you don't know what you have to untrain and whether or not you can even do that.

From contributor Ri

I like cabmaker's video suggestion. Because it will also help you become a better trainer. How much do you yourself retain when attending a training session or seminar? You cannot expect someone to retain if receiving one 3 hour explanation. I would be lost after the first 20 minutes.

I have been working with wood for 27 years and I have not used a jointer nor do I know what a cope is. Put me in front of a vertical panel saw or an edgebander and I will run rings around most people. Besides, jobs are tough to come by, so do you believe applicants are going to be 100% honest about their skills or experience?

I recently spoke to a fella with 42 years in the cabinet industry. He recounted his high school shop class where he had to completely build a nightstand with 5 piece door and drawer, and fully learn all the principles involved working with wood. How many training programs do that today?

I am a firm believer an employee's success is as much the result of his supervisor as the employee.

From contributor ca

There are a lot of reasons to develop training programs.

The video approach is good because it compels you write a storyboard first. You have to list out all the shots you want to include and formally put them into a coherent sequence.

Contrast that your current method of having BillyBob, the Elder, show the new guy the ropes. Some of the information gets into the kid's head but there is a lot of evaporation. Often times this training happens in the heat of the moment, in a more or less impromptu fashion. As Rich pointed out not very many of us could learn well under that format either.

Technology will only take us so far. Having the latest or greatest piece of machinery will confer some market advantage initially but only till the shop down the street buys the same machine. A training program, however, is not something you can order up from Stiles.

If you are going to invest money in training invest it training systems.

From contributor D

Chaim , The jointer may not be a great example of machines to see how long it takes to be proficient at it , many journeymen may not be proficient with jointers but in the shop they work in they are still proficient with the systems they have learned.
I would answer your question of how much time it should take someone to learn the various skills needed with another question , sorry but how long did it take you to learn ?

From contributor ca

One way to knock down his training time is to train him in smaller batches.

Rather than have him build 20 drawer boxes today and hope he remembers all the steps 3 weeks from now you might try having him build 3 or 4 at a time. This scenario has him building drawer boxes five or six times instead of once. The likelihood of this knowledge imprinting will be much greater with repetition than brute memorization.

You might also take a few minutes and write the processes down. If you put this into a poster on the wall he can easily glance to see what's next for any various part.

From contributor Ch

I like the ideas given and have referred my employee to online WW sites that already have material to stream.
He is earnest and tries and has shown some basic knowledge it's just that I need a benchmark to see how much time training various tasks should take.
I am a small one man shop (or was) and I wish to grow, I just don't want to work so I can afford employees. I want them to make me/us money.
How much time do you spend explaining/demonstrating how to operate a table saw or why flat and parallel stock is important to solid lumber?
Not everyone is the same and I expect to have to demonstrate/explain what it is I expect based on an individuals learning curve but is three hours of solid work on the jointer too little to expect results?
I don't spend all my days working on only one thing I move from machining to fabrication to finishing to office work and then back to machining.
what I really need is for the shop to run when I am on sales calls or seeing to supplies.
I'm sure we all had the same or similar questions when we hired our first employee's.

From contributor Ha

Hi Chaim, we do not use very much solid wood and do not own a jointer, but we cut a lot of sheet goods. There are free or inexpensive cutlist programs out there that are easy to use and my employees love the sheet by sheet cutting layouts. I have taught them all to use the program when I cannot be there and they can print out the cutting diagrams and go straight to the slider or the new vertical which we just bought. I have just hired two new employees with years of experience, but they never used a tiger rip fence before and were not familiar with the double line boring machine. I also use a forklift next to the slider for easier and faster cutting. One hour of personal training in my system turned them into happy campers. After 9.5 years of using the tiger rip fence, it went down this past week and we waited two days for the replacement part so they switched to manual cutting. They felt they were back in the dark ages. Most craftsman would prefer an easier and more efficient way to get the job done
, and as owners and innovators, we must make them a part of our vision. Harold.