FAQs / Resources

General Information
Downtown Ashland

Ashland, Ohio is the home of Learning Trade Secrets, LLC.  It is a tightly knit community, home to Ashland University and the Ashland Theological Seminary.  Like any other town, it has its Walmart and other franchises, but the community defines itself as 'Some Place Special', having been listed multiple times as one of the Top 10 most desirable places to live in the United States.  Ashland is a beautiful area surrounded by farmland and fresh air.  The City of Ashland is host to many activities throughout the year, including Balloonfest, the Ashland Symphony in the park, and quaint downtown shopping.  It also has its own Amish community.

We hope that you will enjoy attending our workshops to increase your skills and knowledge while enjoying the simple life in Ohio. For more information on the Ashland area please visit the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce  

You will want to read the FAQ page for additional information.  If you are looking for tools and supplies, we have listed direct links to many of the best resources.  Hopefully, this information will provide you with answers to your most important questions.

Please visit this page regularly as we continue to add answers to your most frequently asked questions about:

Shop Rules & Safety
Travel & Lodging
Gift Certificates & Merchandise


How do you choose your instructors?

Our mission is to choose instructors who are willing to teach the next generation of makers and restorers and who also have a conservative approach to restoration.  Our instructors have reached high acclaim in the field as organizational leaders and researchers, are award-winning makers, and are highly sought after for their experience, knowledge, and success. 

As competition judges, you will find their knowledge and experience invaluable.  Don't hesitate to use them as a resource for information after the course is over.  Stay informed about their latest discoveries in alternative materials, and methods of making and restoration.


Do I need to purchase tools before I attend a workshop?

Some courses provide a toolbox for your convenience during the workshop.  For future students, please do not remove tools from the workshop.  All tools will be accounted for before you leave.  Students will be billed for any tools not returned to their assigned toolbox at the end of the week.

In most cases, any class that states there is a pre-requisite will require you to bring your tools.  If you have tools, bring them, but if you are just testing the waters, don't purchase tools until you see exactly what your instructor is using or recommends.  Check out the Resource section of the site for the best tool and material suppliers.


Do I need to bring my own supplies?

The course description will tell you whether materials and supplies are included in the tuition.  It is often easier for the instructor to supply what you need to learn their method by using the same materials.


Can I borrow tools from other students?

It is best to check your toolbox or ask your instructor for the tool(s) necessary to complete a task.  Most tools are available for use during class time.  Students that come with tools have gone to considerable expense to purchase tools and have spent countless hours sharpening them, so Do Not assume they want to loan them.  Please respect other students' belongings by first asking permission before you remove any tool(s) from another participant's bench.


Do I have to have woodworking skills before I attend a workshop?

The course description will tell you if skills are needed for the workshop or if it requires instructor approval.  However, most courses require some woodworking experience.  Fully list your experience and any previous training on your application.  The instructor will determine whether your prior experience is of an acceptable level for their workshop.


How old do I have to be to attend a workshop?

Workshops require attendees to be at least 21 years of age unless otherwise specified in the course description. We have been known to make exceptions for homeschoolers.


What if I turn 21 during the year I want to attend?

We are glad to have you attend if you will turn 21 (or the minimum age requirement) during the year of your first workshop.  We believe these courses are critically important for those wanting to learn the proper way to make and restore instruments and bows.

Work Hours

When should I arrive and what time does work start?

We ask that students arrive between 4-5pm on Sunday to join us for pizza, time to get acquainted and talk shop, go over shop rules, and an overview of the week's activities followed by time to prepare your tools for Monday morning if needed.  Workshop doors open at 8:00 am with official working hours from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday unless otherwise determined by your instructor.  Your instructor will let you know when he/she will get started with the morning's lecture so you can plan accordingly.

Should your instructor wish to return to the workshop after dinner, the hours are at his/her discretion.  Check with your instructor about evening hours.  Some course descriptions state evening hours are optional.  Evening hours are typical to allow students to catch-up or troubleshoot.  No new techniques are taught during evening hours.


Can I drink alcohol with dinner and go back to work?

No!  If you drink alcoholic beverages with dinner, we ask that you NOT return to the workshop.  Should it be determined that you have returned to the workshop after consuming alcohol, you will receive a warning and promptly be asked to leave.  Alcohol and sharp tools are not a good mixture, whether you have advanced tool skills or not.  If the workshop does not require sharp tools, hopefully, you are mature enough to make a wise decision.  Unprofessional behavior may result in expulsion. 


When does the workshop end?

The workshop ends on Friday at the end of the day unless otherwise stated in the course description.  You are asked to clean your workspace, remove any food item from the refrigerator, and remove all personal items by 6:30 pm unless otherwise stated by your instructor.  We will contact workshop participants about any found or lost items.  Any items found and not claimed within 30 days become the property of Learning Trade Secrets and will be disposed of accordingly.

Shop Rules & Safety

What about COVID-19?

We are no longer requiring unvaccinated participants to "mask up."  If it makes you feel more comfortable, you are welcome to continue wearing a mask.  Should you not feel well prior to your scheduled workshop, we hope you will be considerate enough to get tested or cancel your registration. Thank you for your understanding.


Do I use machines or only hand tools in a workshop?

Your safety is our primary concern.  If you are using hand tools for the first time, watch your instructor carefully and follow their instructions on how to hold and carve with specific tools.  No students are permitted to use machinery except under the direct supervision of an instructor. If you have never used a band saw, mill or lathe, let your instructor show you how the first time to help prevent injury. 


What if I have used machinery before?

Although we realize you may have equipment where you work, liability issues prevent us from allowing students to use equipment without direct instructor supervision.  All students and instructors are required to wear safety glasses and ear protection while using machinery.  Should equipment be 'locked-out', do not attempt to unlock the machinery for use. Workshops are now located in our home studio, so regardless of who is teaching, students must have Mr. Mohr's approval and oversight.  Should Mr. Mohr not be available for approval, your instructor must accompany you and supervise while machinery is in use.


What if I injure myself?

We realize that accidents happen and we are prepared to help.  For simple, non-life-threatening injuries, a First Aid and Eye Wash station are available to all students and instructors located in the shop and restroom.  At the First Aid station are all the necessary items to contain bloodborne pathogens and relieve pain.

When you submitted your application you accepted our Terms of Service allowing Learning Trade Secrets personnel to transport you to the nearest emergency room (a mere 3-4 blocks away) should you become injured.  In an extreme emergency, your instructor will contact 9-1-1 for immediate assistance.  It is required of the injured party as well as all witnesses to provide Learning Trade Secrets with a complete statement by filling out an Accident Report Form located adjacent to the First Aid station.


What should I wear to work?

Even the most experienced woodworker can drop a tool that may land on their foot, so be sure to wear long pants (no yoga or pajama pants), closed-toed shoes (no socks or sandals), and an apron to protect your clothing for dirt and solvents while you work.  It is best to tie back long hair and remove jewelry. 

Ohio weather is unpredictable so always bring a jacket in case of rain.  If you did not pack appropriate clothing, Ashland does have a Walmart where you may purchase the necessary items.


Can I smoke on the Learning Trade Secrets property?

No!  Ohio Revised Code Chapter 3701, bans smoking and smoking devices in or on workshop property or near workshop entrances.  All smokers must be at least 50 feet from a building entrance. Because we are in a nice neighborhood, we suggest you take a short walk down Jacobs Street should you need to smoke.


Can I eat or drink at my bench?

No!  Food is not permitted on your bench.  Should you want beverages, such as tea, coffee, or soft drinks, make sure they are in spill-proof containers to prevent accidental damage to personal and workshop property.  We are not responsible for any damage should beverages spill onto your work or personal property or that of other students.  There is an outside area in which you can eat or you can walk just a few short blocks to downtown to grab a bite.  Do not put food containers or wrappers in your waste basket next to your bench; this tends to attract unwanted pests.


Do I have to sweep every day?

We expect you will make every effort to keep your personal space free of debris.  Debris includes wood shavings, garbage, and personal items not being used for work.  We appreciate every student pitching-in to sweep and remove any unwanted debris at the end of each workday to help prepare for the following day.


Can I use my iPad and cell phone in the workshop?

Each pod of benches is equipped with a charging station for electronic items.  However, to prevent any distractions during the workday, please mute cell phones.  Headphones and earbuds are permitted provided they do not restrict audible instructions from your instructor.  All personal calls must be taken outside the building to prevent disruption.  


Can I take a video during the workshop?

No!  Videos are NOT permitted!  Each student has paid a hefty price to attend so providing video to others is not a fair and acceptable practice. If your instructor permits it, they are assuming you will use it only for personal use and not make it available to others who have not attended the workshop.  Pictures are permitted and may be uploaded to Facebook and other social media platforms.  We encourage you to post your photos to any site and hope you will tag #LearningTradeSecrets so we can share your posts and images. 


Can I get expelled from the workshop?

Yes!  Professional behavior is expected at all times.  Should your behavior become a distraction for others, your instructor will give you a verbal warning.  A second reprimand for unprofessional behavior will result in a written warning by your instructor for your file.  A third offense and you will be asked to pack your personal belongings and leave the workshop for the remainder of the week.  No refund will be given for unused workshop time.  Your unprofessional behavior may prevent you from attending future workshops.


When does the deposit need to be made?

After you have submitted your application and have been approved by your instructor, we will notify you of acceptance into the workshop. At which time, we will send a SquareUp invoice to be paid within 3 days. Please let us know if you wish to make payments so we can schedule them up through SquareUp. Follow the above requirements to reserve your bench.

Do I have to make a deposit to reserve a bench?

Each course requires a $150 non-refundable deposit in order to reserve a bench in the workshop.  This lets us know you are serious about attending a workshop to increase your skills and knowledge. We will send 3 reminders to pay the deposit.  The bench space stays unreserved until you pay your deposit. Should you not pay your deposit within 5 days you will forfeit your reservation and will need to reapply.  You will be notified of cancellation and no further notices will be sent to you.

When should I pay the balance of the tuition?

An invoice will be scheduled to be sent to you on the due date, approximately 4 weeks prior to class.  You will be given a 10 day grace period if you are struggling to make your payment.  If your payment is not made at least 14 days prior to the workshop's starting date we will fill your spot with the first individual on the waiting list. We expect students to act professionally and pay on time unless previous arrangements have been requested.


How do I make a deposit or payment?

We only accept payments online for workshops.  Each invoice will include a service fee of $30. 


Do I have to pay the entire balance at once?

No, you can make as many payments as you like toward the tuition as long as it is completely paid no less than 14 days in advance of the workshop starting date.  SquareUp allows you to make as many payments as necessary.


What if I can't pay the balance by the due date?

If you are unable to pay the balance by the due date, we will extend the payment deadline by 2 weeks.  If you need financial aid to participate in a workshop, contact the VSA immediately for scholarship information and application deadline date.  


If I have to cancel can I get a refund?

Your $150 deposit is non-refundable. If you must cancel your attendance, for any reason, your deposit will not be refunded.  The service fee will only be charged to your balance.  Refunds will be issued if you must cancel and have paid full tuition 30 days prior to the first day of class.  Should you need to cancel less than 30 days in advance, we will do our best to fill your spot and refund your money, but we make no guarantees that you will receive a total refund.  


Is there any help available for workshop tuition or discounts?

The Violin Society of America does offer scholarships to students attending workshops.  You can log on to the VSA website for more information at www.VSAweb.org. 

We offer a $100 multi-course discount should you choose to attend more than one course during the year.  The multi-course discount will be applied to the second workshop scheduled. Some courses may not qualify for the multi-course discount so read carefully.

There also is a $150 discount for recent graduates. Students must have graduated within the last two years from an approved instrument making school.  This discount can only be applied once per year.  The multi-course discount may be applied toward multiple courses after the first course has been completed.

Travel & Lodging

How do I get to Ashland, Ohio?

Ashland is centrally located between Cleveland and Columbus.  Ashland is easy to get to by taking I-71 North or South, and exiting on to US Rt 250 West at
Exit 186. We have moved our workshop home so continue toward town on US Rt 250, which turns into Main Street.

What airport do I fly into if I'm not driving?

You will want to rent a car or make arrangements with Uber or Lyft to get to Ashland.  Ashland is about 60 miles South of the Cleveland Hopkins (CLE) and North of Columbus' John Glenn International (CMH) airports. Cleveland Hopkins Airport is just slightly closer than Columbus. 

What if I need to be picked up at the airport?

We no longer pick up and deliver to the airport.  Please make arrangements for a rental car, Lyft or Uber. 

Plan to leave Ashland three hours before departure and earlier if you need to return a rental car.  You will also want to arrange a hotel stay near the airport on Friday night if you have an early Saturday morning flight.

When should I arrive?

Please arrive on Sunday between 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm.  This will give you time to choose your bench, settle in, spend some time getting to know your bench mates, and share dinner at 5:30 pm.  The remainder of the evening, not later than 9:00 pm, is spent going over shop rules, an overview of the week, and preparing tools for Monday morning.  Some workshops, specifically varnish classes, like to begin on Sunday evening by 7:30 pm.


Where do I stay while I attend the workshop?

We recommend one of the local hotels or B&Bs in Ashland, such as the Motel 6, Hampton Inn, Quality Inn, or College B&B. We have made arrangements with Motel 6 for a discounted rate of $55 per night.  There are several Airbnbs in the area, however, if you choose to go this route please be sure to read the reviews before booking.  Some Airbnbs do not have air conditioning or serve breakfast.  Two Airbnbs have been recommended by former students, the Black Bird Taxi and the 1904 Victorian Farmhouse. We suggest the Black Bird Taxi as it is right in town. The Victorian Farmhouse is out in the country. Only the College B&B is within walking distance.  You must have your own transportation if you choose an Airbnb or hotel out of town.

How do I get to the workshop?

Continue on until you reach the center of town and turn South onto Center Street. You will go through a light at Washington Street and then to Walnut Street.  Continue through the light. Trinity Lutheran Church is immediately on your right. Park in their parking lot across from the red brick house.  We are directly across the street in the multi-colored house with the flag out front. The workshop is behind the house.  If you have tools to drop off you can turn left down the alley toward Jacobs Street and unload at the blue and red door on your left.


Is every meal on our own?

All meals are on your own.  However, if you are staying at a local hotel or B&B, you may be provided with breakfast.  Not all Airbnbs provide breakfast.  Lunch can be ordered and delivered by making a selection from one of our many dining establishments or take a short walk to Bella's 220 or Downtown Perks. Save-a-Lot is right down the street if you prefer to purchase food for several days. Take advantage of this time to form life-long bonds with your colleagues and instructor by eating at the workshop. You are welcome to eat on the patio. Networking is a great way to get to know others in the industry and how they manage career and family.  There are multiple options for food delivery.

Gift Certificates & Merchandise

Do you have gift certificates?

Yes!  This is a great gift idea for holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, and Luthier Appreciation Day.  Call us or send an email with the name and contact information of the recipient for our records then send a check or call with your payment. 


How much does the gift certificate have to be for?

The minimum gift certificate amount is $100.


How long is a gift certificate valid?

The gift certificate is valid for one year from the date of issuance.


Will you send the gift certificate to me or the recipient?

We will send you the gift certificate so you may present it to the recipient for the holiday or special occasion of your choosing.  Or you may choose a gift card, in any amount, for the recipient to present on arrival for use when purchasing tools or merchandise. 

Do you have any merchandise available for purchase?

We're working on it! Swag is coming soon.  Sign up for our Newsletter or follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest updates.