Wayne Miller’s Full Circle Woodworking School focuses on hand tool woodworking. “I’m optimistic that people are tired of spending all their free time with their nose in technology,” Miller says. “It’s not as rewarding as putting your hands on something and creating.”
The school has been in Texas since 2018, but it originally opened in Kentucky. “The idea was to live on my acreage and make furniture,” Miller says. “I decided to start the school because there was no one teaching the fundamentals, that I could find, other than where I went.”
Miller had attended instruction from Paul Sellers and Frank Strazza at what’s now Heritage School of Woodworking. In his own school, he has replicated their focus on hand tool joinery.
Three Primary Joints
“There’s only three woodworking joints: the dovetail, the mortise-and-tenon and the housing dado,” Miller says. “I didn’t want to teach how to make a chair, how to make a box. There are a lot of schools that are doing that, but if you want to learn how to do layout and how to cut the three woodworking joints by hand, you don’t have many options. So I thought, ‘OK, I’m going to focus on that niche.’”
The “Introduction to Joinery” class serves as a prerequisite to other courses. A candle box class, for example, is mostly dovetails; a side table class is all mortise-and-tenon; and the wall shelf course is “housing dadoes with a couple of mortise-and-tenons.”
Project classes are two days long; others are one-day offerings.
Miller also teaches classes on spoon and spatula making and bowl carving. “Not everybody wants to build furniture,” he says. “Many people just want to be able to sit down and make a spoon or spatula with a couple of basic tools.”
Shop Space and Supplies
Miller originally tried running classes out of his two-car garage, “but the ambiance wasn’t what I wanted,” he says. He built a 1,600-square-foot shop and now uses about 25 percent of it for Full Circle Woodworking classes.
Four student workbenches, with a vise on each corner, allow two students per bench. Miller also has his own single bench in the classroom area. One quadrant of the shop is for display and storage, another is for wood storage and the fourth is for machinery.
“Most of the lumber I buy is roughsawn,” Miller explains. “I can plane a board flat and true and to dimension with a hand plane, but it’s not an efficient use of my time. There are machines that are much faster at it, and so I use them. I want to spend my time doing the joinery.”
He does provide wood for students in his classes, as well as tools — although students are welcome to bring their own hand tools if they have them. “Everything’s provided, and most of the time, I throw in a lunch as well,” Miller says.
With the school’s location in Azle, Texas, about 12 miles west of Fort Worth, “there are ample things to do to keep spouses engaged if they don’t want to participate in the class,” Miller says. Specific attractions mentioned include the Forth Worth Stockyards, Sundance Square Plaza and Kimbell Art Museum.
Sometimes, however, spouses or entire families take his classes together. Previous students have been “young, old, male, female, educated, some of them not,” Wayne says. “I couldn’t pinpoint a specific demographic for people that are interested in this.”
Learn a Skill, Go and Do
Although he’s happy to see students return for additional classes, that’s not Wayne’s goal. “If they come and they take one class, and they can go do their thing, I’m happy,” he says. “I feel like I’ve achieved what I wanted to do: I’ve taught someone a skill, and now they’re off doing something with it.”
He helped one former student — a sushi bar owner — build the workbench that then allowed the restaurateur to build tables and sushi serving platters.
“I don’t want students to feel like they’re married to me,” Wayne said. “I want to teach them something, and I want them to be able to go employ that knowledge. I don’t need groupies; my dog is my groupie. I just want to teach and to keep the craft alive.”
For more information about Full Circle Woodworking, visit fullcircleww.com or call 817-444-1122.