About the Layman’s Institute: What Do You Need To Know?


Usually, people access a page like this is to see whether the author has any idea what he is talking about. That makes perfect sense, so here is a little about who I am, and why I think I can teach the subjects I will offer.

I have taught, formally or informally, for more than 45 years. That is just “who I am:” I teach. I taught professionally in two Community Colleges, and in the steel fabrication industry. Also, I taught privately in many fields. But wherever I end up, teaching is simply what I do.

Steel Fabrication:

I held the following AWS national certifications in the Steel Fabrication field: (I am now retired, but still teaching.)

  • CWI (Certified Welding Inspector)
  • CWS (Certified Welding Supervisor) and
  • CWE (Certified Welding Educator)

More importantly: I trained hundreds of other workers in those same skills, to gain similar certification. Certification required rigorous (and expensive) testing. Not everyone could afford the tests, so relatively few risked the money to make the attempt. But those who did invest in the testing, passed their tests. All of the welders I (and a team of other teachers) taught gained the necessary skills to pursue and excel in a career in welding.

CWI Classes

For a few years, I taught welding theory, print reading, and a “CWI prep Class” in the Community Colleges. The latter class enabled people to pass a national exam for Certified Welding Inspectors. I taught those same classes in the industry, but also taught a “CWS prep Class.” Because there was some math involved in the inspection and supervision certifications, I added still other classes. They included remedial math, metallurgy for welders, and shop safety.  Training for CWS and CWI personnel became an industry specialty for me. The company needed Certified Welding Supervisors and Certified Welding Inspectors.

The CWI class taught the intricacies of what goes into weld-quality, the root causes of weld discontinuities and weld failures, as well as how to correctly inspect welds. I (with the other teachers I trained) taught welders to inspect welds using visual inspection, and other nondestructive examination methods. We taught hundreds of our employees, and they were in great demand throughout the area. The reputation of our training programs had spread to other shops.

CWS Classes

The CWS class taught management systems, efficiency, and value-stream mapping, preparing a worker to be a Certified Welding Supervisor. It also re-taught the intricacies of welding in four different processes: SMAW, GMAW, FCAW and GTAW. I trained other teachers, and together, we taught “trouble-shooting” in each of those four processes, and how to make accurate bids on the welding portion of any steel fabrication job. (This is where the majority of the math came into play.)

The company eventually required successful completion of that course, before an employee could be considered for lead positions. The CWS classes had proved so profitable, in terms of saved labor costs, they could not afford to do otherwise.


I have built violin-family instruments for the last 23 years, and I continue to do so. When people say, “the violin-family” they usually mean “violins, violas, cellos, and double basses.” (Double basses are technically part of the “viol family,” but I won’t quibble.) I now specialize in five-string variants of each of those categories. (See them here, and here.)

I wrote books about the processes involved in building and repairing those instruments. Most importantly, I have personally taught others to build those instruments. They successfully completed violins, violas, and cellos. (No doubles basses, yet.) I taught some in person, and others by distance learning.

I teach whatever I know in lutherie (stringed instrument making and repair) to anyone willing to learn. That is just what I do, in all areas. I am a teacher.

Other Training:

Theology and Ministry

I worked through six years of post-secondary schooling. Four years of that was Bible and Ministerial training. In keeping with that, I have taught Bible classes to adults for the last 45 years, without charge. Currently, I pastor a small church, also without charge. So…I will try to offer most theology teaching here (even downloadable books and commentaries) free of charge. (Or at the lowest fee Amazon will allow, as they are published there. (They allow a certain number of free downloads, and I will make use of them.)

Cover of One Commentary

I hope to never charge money for what was freely given to us all. It is just my personal preference. I have no problem with “the laborer being worthy of his hire.” So, if a physical (hard-copy) book is offered, it will not be free: They cost money to print and ship. Sorry. That’s just a reality of life. But I will  try to always make the teaching available electronically without charge.

Other Projects

I have a long history of building tools and other projects. Buildings such as barns, homes and sheds; Boats; Tools such as hand planes, and gouges, and other items are among the random list. A fireplace bellows might interest one person. A pair of outriggers to stabilize a sailing canoe might be what captures another person’s attention. Fruit-tree grafting may prove to be someone else’s interest.

We will see where the website takes us.

Thanks for looking.

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