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Right now! That's the beauty of this online format, you can start any semester as soon as you sign up and take as long as you want to complete it. With your purchase comes lifetime access so you can rewind, fast forward, watch it again, work at your own pace.
The nice thing is that the format of the school means you can take as long as you want. However 6 months per semester is a good estimate for the weekend warrior who tackles a new lesson each week.
It depends, I offer semesters both with and without downloads. Download-able semesters are available for $25 more to cover the bandwidth costs of downloading from the content server. But honestly the on site video players are very fast and much of the community, learning experience and functionality like video chapters and the ability to resume where you left off is available only by streaming on the site.
I'm here to help and only an email away. Most members also find a lot of help in our community forums where you can chat but also not only get my input, but advice and experiences from the entire community.
Absolutely not. The Semester 1 tool kit is meant to be a goal, not a starting point. I highly recommend you buy tools as you need them. The lessons are ordered so that they build on your skill but also your tool kit. It is easy to start with a Jack plane and a chisel to do the first lesson, then add a saw for the second lesson, etc, etc.
With subsequent semesters, the tool lists layout everything I use to build the projects but are by no means required since there are always different techniques and tools that can get you to the same place.
If you are interested in getting a solid tool kit to start with that relies on fewer tools that do more, then check out my article on The Minimal Tool Kit.
Yes…with a but. I do make some assumptions with the Orientation Semester or Semester 1 content about setting up some hand tools. But I am always ready to help and fill in the blanks for someone that might need a bit more assistance. We also have a great community forum where members can share struggles and current projects to get help from a much wider base of woodworkers.