Sunday, December 4, 2011

Woodwork for Women

For the last five weeks I’ve been learning to join wood in a class taught by Patt Gregory at her workshop in Mullumbimby, NSW. In the first series of classes I learned how to make a housing joint, a rebate joint and a butt joint.

Patt is such an inspirational teacher, that the process of work and the finished beauty of my beginner project led me to immediately sign up for a second series of classes with the mortise-and-tenon joint as the objective.

I went home and revived my once-upon-a-time want-to-make-this-one-day list and embellished it with sketches. One and a half courses in, I’m fantasizing that I’ll build the window seats and bookshelves I’m planning as part of my house renovations, myself and from scratch at that.

Along with writing, gardening, knitting and embroidery, I’ve also always done do-it-yourself stuff searching out cheap second-hand timber furniture and taking it apart and/or changing its function. 
In that way I made a couch from a single bed. A sewing table from a desk. A kitchen table from a broken wreck I salvaged illegally from the local tip. Mostly these were needs-must projects. Ways of having what couldn’t be afforded otherwise.

Then came a time I was involved in planting and nurturing native Australian timber trees. I love timber and still have a three-metre (unknown species) dead tree as a life-size sculpture, its timber very finely grained, at present in storage. Learning ‘proper’ woodwork always seemed to be out of reach.
But now?

Yes I can, and yes I will make my wishful wood fantasies. Given that I can continue classes with Patt. Because I suspect that, like all things worth doing well, woodworking is a discipline and a craft with a life-long apprenticeship.

Patt’s book, Woodwork for Women: cutting a new path for beginners gives a step-by-step account of how to achieve the first project, along with tools needed and how to use them. 

Aspects of wood in general and radiata pine (for the first project) in particular. 

The sustainability of the timber industry, and sourcing timbers for woodworking projects. 

The design, and transferring it to the raw material (ie the wood) by measuring up, and a myriad of helpful hints, clues and uplifting stories about the women, and their projects, who have gone before you.

Finally there’s the making. Set out in step-by-step fashion, up to step 20. 

If you can’t get to Patt’s classes – say if you live somewhere in the world – this book is a good way into woodwork. 

And check out also. It will give you everything you need to know to be able to access these uplifting classes presented by a passionate teacher in a relaxed environment.

Glitches are welcomed. 

The story is that you can’t learn without them. 

And anyway they can mostly be corrected or, sometimes, be incorporated in the project. 


I learnt that at least a dozen times in my first project and it still looks great don't you think? 

Finished project in use

1 comment:

  1. Your project looks great Rita! I love the way your tailor made it for your special items. I enjoyed your comment about glitches. Almost anything can be fixed when working with wood. Its very forgiving. Anyway congratulations to you. I also loved the article and the comments about my book.Thank you.
    See you at woodwork again soon. Cheers Patt