Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another Earth Carers Woodworking Program.

Over the weekend of 30 April - 1 May, I had the pleasure of working with another group of Earth Carers. This event was funded by the East Metropolitan Regional Council. The EMRC is the regional local government body working on behalf of six member Councils located in Perth's eastern suburbs. Waste Management is one of the EMRC's key responsibilities. The Earth Carers have completed a wonderful free course in waste minimisation and management. More info available at  http://www.emrc.org.au/earth-carers.html .

Passionate about recycling, reducing waste, and reducing consumption, these EMRC Earth Carers had the opportunity to learn about trees and timber, and acquire some basic woodworking skills. The timber we used was primarily all timber removed from the land fill stream: packaging material, industrial waste, material rescued from kerbside collections, and timber salvaged from skip bins. What a treasure trove of resources! It was an amazing array of timbers from all over the world.

Day 1: Such a wonderful array mostly of kitchen chopping boards, made with beautiful timbers from all over the planet.

The concept is simple : It's one thing to see discarded timber as a valuable resource - it's another thing to know what to do with it. Hence the idea of empowering people with some basic skills to be able to utilise that wonderful timber resource.


Transforming a rough piece of packaging timber into a beautiful kitchen chopping board. This piece of American White Oak took a lot of planing! Nice pile of shavings!    
 Day One we made kitchen chopping boards, and on day two we carved wooden spoons. The main skills learned on the first day of the weekend program were hand sawing and hand planing - the basic stuff of woodworking hand skills. On Day Two we made wooden spoons and spatulas. The main skills were timber selection, and the use of a much wider variety of hand tools, including of gouges and mallets, curved scrapers and spokeshaves, coping saws and english bowsaws, rasps and more. Both of these activities help develop a real appreciation for timber and the traditional tools used to work and shape it.

Hollowing out the bowl in the spoon blank with a gouge and mallet.
Paring the spoon bowl smooth with a gouge.

Using a curved scraper to complete the hollowing out of the spoon's bowl. 


Cutting the curved outline to shape with an english bowsaw.

The wooden spoon activity is one of my favourites, and is always very popular. It is a fantastic way to learn to work with the grain rather than against it,  to get to feel the wood as you work it. The funny thing is that there is often a difference between the planned spoon and the finished item. A bit of wild sawing here, an over-zealous bit of spokeshaving there... and next thing you know the handle now has a curve, or the bowl has taken on a different shape! At the finish there are no two spoons the same - and a wonderful array of  individually handcrafted beautiful spoons!


Day 2: A beautiful range of wooden spoons and spatulas.
 It was a great weekend. Lots of fun, a happy and enjoyable bunch of Earth Carers, and lots of energy and enthusiasm. For some it was the first time they'd done anything like this... for others it was the second time and a chance to build on their skills. Either way these bods will never look at a discarded piece of timber the same way again.
Congratulations to the gang for a job well done!

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