We are located in the small seaside community of Roberts Creek, nestled between the coastal mountains of British Columbia and the Salish Sea. Our location is consistent with our work, quiet and inspired by nature.
At Inside Passage School of Fine Cabinetmaking we offer not a way to make a living, but a way of life.
In the past 15 years, we have welcomed students from 41 countries worldwide and in doing so have created a creative and supportive environment that is available for the students twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. We stock over a hundred varieties of fine cabinet woods sourced ethically worldwide, providing our students the finest possible materials included in all our programs.
The school was founded, and is operated by Robert and Yvonne Van Norman. In addition to keeping Robert and the school on course, Yvonne maintains a bench in our benchroom and assists with the program. Robert is the Resident Craftsman and teacher at the school. He studied at the College of the Redwoods Fine Woodworking Program under the direction of James Krenov. His teacher acted as his advisor and provided weekly lectures over the phone to our students until his death in 2009.
When the world is quiet, Robert spends the early morning hours in his own workshop, ; surrounded by Jim’s original machines, handtools, first workbench and the last of Jim’s fine cabinet wood, where he continues to work at the craft. Over the winter months between the fall and spring terms at the school he has returned to commission work. It is during this time that he and Yvonne travel to Israel each year to teach at one of our alumnus school.
While we have always maintained that there is no substitute for hands on learning, and will continue to offer our Impractical Cabinetmaker program at the school, we do recognize the need today for distance learning. In the coming months we will be publishing a distance learning version of our Impractical Studies, for more information please follow the link on the program page of our website.
At our small family operated craft school founded on and dedicated to the teachings of James Krenov, students are invited to explore the intimate relationship which exists between the wood, the tools and the details of fine cabinetmaking.
Our work has always about the wood and about making the process as enjoyable as possible. The work is never forced, and is composed in collaboration with the wood, honouring the makers innermost intentions.
There is a deep sense of gratification when one is able to use the tools we make to make fine furniture. The way our handmade planes feels in your hand, as you guide them effortlessly across a piece of wood, the razor sharp iron leaving a gleaming surface in its wake, continues to bring joy to the work, and to the results. We work with the eye, the hand, and the heart, and embrace every opportunity to make the work as personal as possible. The way a dovetail joint has been shaped carefully with a shearing tool and how the gentle curve left brings a smile to our eyes. We honour the subtitles in the craft and work without compromise. You will find that it is at school, when we are lost in the work, that we are happiest and when the best work is done.