Saturday, January 21, 2012

Wood That I Could

When I was a little girl, I read a book called A Little Maid of Newport.  It was set in the 1700s just before the American Revolution. In it, two cousins rescue a piece of Newport's Liberty tree and decide to use the wood to make thimble boxes.  I remember asking my father if I could have a piece of wood and use his chisels to make a box of my own.  It didn't really turn out to be much of a box (I didn't keep it), but I think my love of making things out of wood started in the pages of that book.

A few years ago, I took two woodworking courses at a local community college. Eighteen men, two women. Some of the men were a little more welcoming than others. Add woodworking terminology in French to the mix. Being lefthanded always complicates things. It was all quite intimidating but I was excited to be there and so eager to learn.

The first course concentrated on using manual tools (pencils, rulers, chisels, planers, saws--I really liked using a Japanese dozuki saw and bought one of my own).  By the end of the eight-week course, we had all made our own wooden box--the dream of my childhood had come true!

The next eight-week course concentrated on using the big shop tools.  We worked in teams to create a pine chest.  I really tried to feel comfortable with the shop tools but was terrified of them.  I am a person who works slowly and carefully on things and the pace of the teamwork and my fear of rotating blades made this course much less enjoyable for me. Wild thoughts of becoming a furniture-maker came to a halt.

In our house, I like using handheld power tools. I own a power drill, jigsaw, nailing gun and circular saw. I have a power mitre saw that I like very much.  I don't own a table saw and never will.  With what I do own, I have made several things around our home.  I'm not sure that my creations would win woodworking prizes but I am proud of them and I like that my girls have grown up seeing me make things.  I enjoy the challenge of seeing a need and creating something to fit it. I made a divided cutlery insert for our kitchen drawer. I made a wooden wall vent to replace a noisy metal one. I've made a picture frame and a wallmounted bookshelf.  I created built-in shelves in my studio closet to hold my big watercolour sheets.

The biggest and most complicated thing I've ever made was a six-foot tall headboard for Emma's room. I designed it and built it from scratch. Now I am in the process of transforming it for Chloé's room. It was hard to think of removing the beautiful beaded shell insert (table runners!) and changing its colour but it is turning out quite nicely.  Chloé and I have been painting it a lovely soft white. Her electric lime green room has enough vibrant colour. (One daughter with electric lime and the other with pale cucumber!) I am growing to like the headboard in white. We have another coat of paint to put on it before it is moved into Chloé's room. I am happy to know that it will be used and appreciated for several more years.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my blog and to leave me a comment. I love reading them. -- Kathleen

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