A new startup - M.T. Copeland - has entered the building trades training space offering well-produced video courses by some of the best craftspeople in the residential building industry. Headed by CEO and co-founder, Gabe Jewel, who formerly worked as a senior producer at masterclass.com ("an online education platform dedicated to democratizing access to genius"), the new venture is applying a similar recipe of matching high-end video production values with top talent to advancing the skills of carpenters, builders, and other trades people.
Three of the courses launched with week by M.T. Copeland set the bar for where the company wants to go in becoming the go-to resource for opening career pathways for those in the industry.
Commercial Blueprints. The instructor for this course is Elly Hart, well-known to many builders and trade professionals on Instagram as @ellytheapprentice who inspired many of us for years as we followed her path through her Red Seal apprenticeship (a Canadian certification program unparalleled by anything we have in the United States for Trades training).
Elly has long since completed her apprenticeship and is a Red Seal certified carpenter currently working as a site lead on large multifamily construction projects - projects that magnify the scale of residential construction, and demand blueprint reading fluency from all trade partners involved. The 12-lesson course takes a deep dive into the complexity of a full-set of commercial plans, setting the stage for carpenters at all levels to navigate a project.
Introduction to Cabinetry. The instructor here is Ken DeCost, a Boston-based cabinetmaker who has been the go-to for cabinets used in the high-end rebuilds by Boston-based NS Builders for more than a decade. As Ken explains below, people have access now to a lot of the same tools used in high-end cabinet shops and can make precision, hand-crafted cabinets in a small shop. In this course he tells us how.
He gives us an introduction to not only the tools he uses but also the basic techniques for building well-crafted cases. While basic in scope, compared to the range of cabinet cases installed in high-end rebuilds, the 12 lesson-course is complete, and will get carpenters at any level started on the track of producing well-crafted cabinets.
Coping Moulding and Trim. The instructor for this course is Aaron Butt, a lead carpenter well-known as @aaronthomasaquinas on Instagram, and for his teaching and carpentry work in Finehomebuilding and at live training events.
In this 12-lesson course, Aaron covers three coping techniques, applicable to different sizes and complexities of the moldings being coped: with a hand coping saw, with a grinder and with a table saw.
M.T. Copeland course aren't free. The three described here are $75 each. For that you get access to the course forever, to watch as many times as you need, plus downloadable plans and guides. The typical course is presented in 12 separate videos, which nicely breaks down the course so you can go back to specific sections for further study without wading through a lengthy video.
For learning a trade there is no substitute for hands-on learning. There's no mistaking that these are not substitutes for actually picking up tools and doing the work. But the quality of instruction and clear visual content in these courses comes closer than anything I've seen to a practical training resource that, with careful attention and yes, following through on doing the work, can move the needle on a carpenter's skills. And it is the first viable training platform I have seen in the marketplace to providing tools that supplement on-the-job training (where, let's face it, most training for the trades happens) that contractor's could provide to build skills for employees.