Monday, September 20, 2010

Earth Carers Woodworking Program a Great Success!

A mob of Earth Carers came together in July at Perth City Farm for a 4 day wood working program with a focus on the recycling of timber which was previously destined for land fill.  I normally run these kinds of workshops with a maximum of 12 people, but this time I had around 20 people in each session! This took a fair bit of extra organisation, but Perth City Farm was a great venue where there was plenty of room for  group sizes that big.

The Workshop Program looked like this:

Thursday 22nd July 2010: 5.30-9pm    Make a Kitchen Chopping Board.
A great opportunity to learn and use some basic woodworking skills, particularly using saws, planes and scrapers. Turn some recycled/re-used timber into a beautiful and functional kitchen heirloom!
Friday 23rd July 2010: 5.30-9pm    Design and Make a Wooden Spoon.
Take some recycled/re-used timber, imagine a beautiful and unique spoon, and then create it using a range of traditional woodworking hand tools!
Saturday 24th July: 10am-4pm    Bring new life to old tools.
Here is a chance to bring along some old tools, and learn how to restore them to good condition. Do you have some old tools that belonged to an old family member? Got a bargain from a garage sale? Do the planet a favour - Don’t buy a new cheap tool when a better quality old tool can be brought back to life! We will repair, sharpen and rejuvenate a range of tools including planes, chisels and saws – and then we will use those tools to create some nice stuff out of recycled/re-used timber. Note: This workshop will involve learning the safe use of bench grinders and other electric sharpening equipment.
Sunday 25th July: 10 am- 4pm     Create something beautiful from timber once destined for landfill.
Let your head go! From the array of recycled/re-used timber available (and any you bring with you), create something beautiful, lasting, decorative and/or functional. You will learn to use some of the wide range of traditional woodworking tools which are provided, and take home your wonderful creation. If you are stuck for ideas, Greg will have plenty of suggestions, tips and techniques. Ah… you can hear, feel, and smell the wood as you work it…

Gathering the resource.
The morning of Day One, I drove around in the City of Joondalup filling my ute with a vast array of timber gathered from a vergeside rubbish collection. These "bring out your dead" events are both a bower bird and recyclers' paradise and a terrible reflection of our wasteful consumerism. 

I had also obtained from a furniture importer several cartons of furniture which had falled from a great height from a forklift.While the cabinets inside were damaged, there was plenty of useful timber and fittings in there.
This was further supplimented with some packaging materials which had been picked up from the verge of  the light industrial area near my home, and some other materials I had collected from a renovation site.  Did someone mention bower birds earlier? A treasure trove of timber viewed as waste and previously destined for land fill - now to be put to new uses...

A few pics from the workshops.
The following gallery shows some of the participants in action as they learned to use some basic hand tools and used those tools create their projects. We weren't too fussy about sticking to the script. If you just had another idea in your head of what you wanted to make, then you could just do it!

It was a fun environment to be in, with lots of people busily putting their energy and enthusiasm into their projects. Some found a few muscles they'd forgotten about (hand planing and sawing are good for that), some brushed up on skills they hadn't used for many years, and many gained some new skills and understandings they had never had the opportunity to develop before...  

Thanks to the three Regional Councils (Waste Management Authorities) who jointly funded the event, to the amazingly wonderful Peg Davies for arranging it, to Perth City Farm for providing the great venue, to Tracey and John for assisting me over the weekend, and of course to the Earthcarers who participated with such enthusiasm and passion for a more sustainable and less wasteful world.


  1. G'day Greg. good reading as always. Thought about coming to Kabul to run an event like this? Seriously. you could do it with expats kids (most of whom have a pretty limited orbit of activities available) and locals...
    Have a ponder on it. We'd need some big organising to make it happen, but it could work...

  2. I loved the workshops! Hope Eart Carers is organising more, I heard some talk about an advanced wood workshop... looking forward to it!