The School of Hard Knots™

Wood and wood products are an integral component of our everyday lives. We form true partnerships (see The Wood Life Win Win program) with schools, colleges, universities, places of worship, libraries, businesses and just about any other organization you can think of in our communities. We offer and are developing classes for every phase of the wood life cycle; from seeds to saplings, from new growth forests to wood harvesting, from transportation to sawmills, from distribution to wood product companies, from product distributor to wholesalers, from stores to consumers, from woodworkers to mentorships, and from reclaimed wood to landfills. We conduct field trips, organize guest speakers, and develop mutually beneficial fundraisers.

We also use the expertise and knowledge from the companies, organizations, and individuals  along the wood lifecycle to teach business, personal, life, and community involvement skills to students and faculties. The School of Hard Knots can be tailored to students at all levels of education; from preschoolers to kindergarteners, from grade schoolers to high schoolers, from college and university undergraduates to advanced degree seekers, and from community centers to retirement homes. But most importantly, The School of Hard Knots can also be used to teach people with mental health diseases, physical disabilities, and any other “handicap”. Simply put, The School of Hard Knotsis all inclusive, all the time, and everywhere.


Pallets for a Purpose™ (Launch: 11-24-17)

Using old, used wooden pallets that would otherwise end up in our nation's landfills students build useful furniture and household items. Pallets are donated by our partner organizations. All our products are built by students in the classes we teach.  We sell the products in our online store and put the proceeds back into our programs.

Ingrained Mentoring™ (Launch: 12-27-17)

We match program beneficiaries with experienced woodworkers and craftsman to pass on their knowledge and passion for woodworking.

We also fill all positions at The Wood Life with program beneficiaries and match them with experienced professionals or other individuals. However, it doesn't stop there. In cooperation with local governments 

Wood to Work™ (Launch: TBD)

Through our partnerships with companies that employ wood related craftsmen (and women), trade schools, boat building schools, and universities with wood related degrees and courses of study we give a child a future with a job, a career, and a living.

Pallets in the Park

Pallets in the Park™ (Launch: Jan 18)

Using wood pallets donated by our sponsors the general public is invited to build furniture from reclaimed wood. Local parks are used as our venues.  Woodworking plans are available to use during the event and there are instructors to provide guidance, teach proper tool use, safety, and to answer any questions participants have.

At the end of the event participants may keep the furniture or household item they created for a donation of $15 OR they can donate their creation to The Wood Life.  Any donated items will be displayed on in our online store and available for general purchase.  All proceeds are put back into the programs so we can teach others woodworking skills.

Wood Warriors™ (Launch: Q1 18)

This program pairs military veterans with woodworkers. The purpose is to provide warriors a past time and/or career after their military service. Like the program for at-risk youth it can start with a simple 1 hour introduction to a single type of woodworking (carving, cabinetry, etc.) a more in depth half or full day seminar, to a deep dive multi-day, week long or long term apprenticeship pairing.

One hour through full day programs can be a visit to a local woodworker’s home shop, a field trip to a lumber yard, saw mill, paper mill, cabinet shop, or to a new home site where framing is underway. Attendees will have a chance to do hands on work if they choose.

Meals: for half and full day events a snack, lunch or dinner will be provided. Event organizers solicit local restaurants for in kind donations of food and beverages. Many restaurants are more than happy to do this! You just have to ask! For example, Outback Steakhouse brought their catering kitchen/chuck wagon to the full day sportsman program Jeff Wooddell organized yearly in Southern Maryland. Drink More Water in Gaithersburg donated a case of water to Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County for a board of directors meeting. Another restaurant donated a large pan of lasagna, bread.  Starbucks donated boxed coffee and a grocery store donated fresh vegetables.

Boat Building

Kayaks for a Kause™ (Launch: Q1 2018)

Through The Wood Life Win Win we partner with great companies like Chesapeake Light Craft. John Harris, the owner is an amazing guy. I’ve met him several times. His company sells boat kits. However, I know he must get lots of inquiries a year from people who want a wooden boat but can’t or don’t want to build one themselves. They would refer those customers to The Wood Life and our program participants can build them anywhere in the country/world for local delivery.

The customer would purchase the kits through CLC. CLC would ship them to the closest The Wood Life shop where our program participants would assemble them, do custom features and finishes. The customer would pick them up locally or we would ship them at the customer’s cost to them. We would ask for a fee/donation for our work so we could build additional boats, keep the shops running, etc.

We can also partner with boat building schools across the country. Many of them have degree programs and this fits directly into our Wood to Work program and of course our umbrella program The School of Hard Knots.

Sail from Dark Harbor™ (Launch: Q2 2018)

A 10 - 12 week residential program specifically designed for military veterans suffering from PTSD. The program participants will work together to build a Dark Harbor 12 ½’ or a Dark Harbor 17’ with the goal of completing it and sailing it by the time the program ends. Mental health professionals will be on site during the time as well. These professionals will work with the participants to provide them coping skills, life skills, open forum discussions at meal times, etc.

The students will start by lofting the boat all the way through smelting the lead/steel to form the keel. The participants will have time in the mornings and evenings to paddle kayaks and sail previous boats made during previous program participants.

The Dark Harbor 17’ is one of the most beautiful racing sailboats ever created. When you see one for the first time you will fall in love.Here are some links to the Dark Harbor:

Artisan Boatworks

Wooden Ships



Paddleboards for a Purpose™ (Launch: Q1 2018)

See Kayaks for a Kause