Inside Passage - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Learning the Craft: School of Fine Woodworking


Inside Passage

Conversation piece
Made by Robert Van Norman; Photo: David Welter

Nestled among towering cedars and Coastal Mountains of British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast is the Inside Passage, a school founded on the teachings of James Krenov. The Inside Passage can be defined as a journey happening or coming from within. One of the guiding principles of the school is to enable students to discover the relationship that exists between the craftsperson and the material. The maker’s journey is not only an exterior one of skill and precision, but also an interior passage of patience, integrity, and quiet reflection.

As craftsmen, staff at the Inside Passage believe that it is their obligation to continue to learn, refine, and develop skills. They consider it a privilege to share this knowledge with others, are committed to a vision of integrity, and aspire to prepare students for this lifelong journey in fine craftsmanship.

Robert Van Norman
Photo: David Welter

Although the Inside Passage is just now becoming a reality it has been a dream for some time. Almost thirty years ago James Krenov wrote one of the seminal books on the woodworker’s craft: “A Cabinet Maker’s Notebook”. There would be four books to follow, each encouraging us to look closer at our material and the approach we take when working with wood. Retired now after more than twenty years teaching at the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program, Krenov has returned to the solitude of his small workshop. There he continues to work at the craft in which he has made such a profound impact. Robert Van Norman, one of the founders of the Inside Passage, who serves as a resident instructor and craftsman, was very fortunate to have the opportunity of studying with Krenov and feels grateful to have him act as an advisor to the school.

The staff at the Inside Passage consists of Robert Van Norman, along with Michael Burns, the current director at the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program and also a director of the Inside Passage, and Michael Mulrooney. Michael is a former student of Van Norman and previously taught at the Wild Earth Woodworking School in Hudson, Wisconsin.

Robert Van Norman; Photo: Ray Pilon

The summer programs for 2005 feature some of the finest craftsman of our time including: Michael Burns, Yeung Chan, Ejler Hjorth-Westh, Julie Godfrey, Adrian Ferrazzutti, Joe Amaral, Gary Kent, and Bradley Hunt. Course offerings include: hardware making, tool making, marquetry, laminations, finishing, post & panel, and carving. In addition, the School offers the Inside Passage Artisan Series, which gives students the flexibility of taking each of the core courses independently or as part of a series, and includes many of the topics covered in the Craftsman Program. The school has done its best to include the topics most relevant to students who are unable to commit to a program lasting several months. Each of the five-day courses is available to students of all levels of woodworking experience who want to develop or refine their skills.

The 9-month Craftsman Program commences September 5, 2005. The curriculum for this program is based on the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program and will be taught primarily by Robert Van Norman, Michael Mulrooney, and Michael Burns with the goal of preparing students as independent craftsman.
For more information: go to or call 877-943-9663


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