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JS Custom Interiors with Dave Kindig
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Turn to the Pros to Level Up Your Skills

We live in a time when so much information is available to us instantly on request and for free. Between YouTube, Wikipedia, and Chat GPT, it’s easy to feel confident about knowing a lot about, well, a lot. We should know – after all, we create a ton of how-to content for DIY restoration and fabrication hobbyists. But easy access to information is no substitute for true knowledge or experience.

At some point, though, you’re bound to find yourself just smart enough to be dangerous. You may even ask if you should really be doing whatever it is you had planned. And that’s when it might be time to get some real education from a professional. But it’s going to cost you.

For decades, one of the best ways to gain hands-on skills has been through local community colleges and vocational schools. These institutions are typically more geared toward teaching full-scope skills in various trades or preparing students for the next phase in their college educations. However, they usually also offer a number of stand-alone courses for the general public.

Eastwood live welding training

These schools are a great way to get relatively inexpensive hands-on experience with automotive skills like welding, bodywork, and painting. You’ll not only get to use someone else’s tools and equipment, but you’ll likely benefit from exchanging tips and advice from other students. Many courses can be taken individually, and a semester’s worth of a class may only run a couple hundred dollars or so.

More specialized skills might require finding professionals who teach. For years, Eastwood would bring in custom car pioneer Gene Winfield to teach group seminars in body fabrication at the company headquarters. These were understandably popular events, giving attendees direct access to a true legend while learning real skills.

In more recent history, cable TV has made celebrities out of numerous car builders from Chip Foose to Dave Kindig. Appearing in most episodes of Kindig’s Bitchin’ Rides show is Justin Stephens of JS Custom Interiors. Along with fellow trimmer Phil Cato, the duo now teaches automotive upholstery to amateurs through their three-day Bitchin Stitchin programs.

JS Custom Interiors class
Stephens and Cato teach a class at JS Cutom Interiors

Other travelling skill builders include Florida-based Dave Knoderer. The award-winning artist and author is well-known for his skills in Harley-Davidson circles. Through his Letterfly Pinstriping business, he teaches pinstriping and airbrushing classes in workshops ranging from one to five days.

Pinstriper and airbrusher Dave “Letterfly” Knderer

Even those of us who grew up in the garage with grease under our fingernails can get a deeper, more formal education in a short time. If high-performance engines are more your speed than sheet metal and paint, there are classes for you too. Engine builder Ben Strader started EFI University to share his experience with other enthusiasts. And while you can take some of his courses online, the company also offers hands-on courses. You can even join its “fraternity,” the cleverly named (if you know, you know) Delta Lambda.

So, go ahead and take advantage of all the free resources the modern world makes available to you. In fact, we encourage you to check out Eastwood’s vast library of resources (and don’t forget to like and subscribe!). But when you really need to up your game, don’t hesitate to get help from the professionals. It’s money well spent.

EFI University
Ben Strader of EFI Univerdsity

One Comment

  1. Gene is such a great person… That man has more knowledge and is so kind for sharing it. What a treasure!