Last year I wrote a series of three articles for Good Woodworking Magazine, called Woodworking Adventures. They appeared in the June, July, and August editions (GW319, GW320, GW321). Now that several months have past since those magazines were printed I’ve decided to offer the articles to you here over the next few weeks, and I’ll be including additional photos not featured in the magazines.
“I love working with wood, but…” Perhaps you don’t have space for a workshop, or you don’t have the money you need to buy the tools that you want, or maybe you have other reasons for not pursuing the adventure of woodworking. Been there, worn the t-shirt – and burned it!
What I am going to share with you isn’t so much a how-to, but a why-not! Be encouraged! Be inspired!
In 2006 I immigrated to Phuket, Thailand. Homes here are much smaller than Australian homes, and yard space is either significantly smaller or non-existent. So, how do I set up a workshop? For a long time I didn’t but I did slowly collect useful tools. I started some basic tools that my wife had and a rip saw that I bought in the hardware store, and built my first project – a plant stand.
The wood was found dumped in the bush near our home. Anyhow, the wood is rough, and perfectly suited for this project. It is made simply by cutting halfway into the uprights, and into the shelves, and then hammering the shelves home. I even used the hammer to break off the waste from inside the joints. I think some purists will be cringing at the thought of doing that, but limited resources require odd methods! No glue, no screws, just carefully measured tight joints that lock the whole thing together, and it served us very well.
The next project was a simple one, we needed a large crucifix for an Easter play at church, so back into the bush I went and found two rough pieces of wood which I simply bound together with rope. It worked well.
Along the way we got a dog, and she needed a kennel. It’s a very simple build, just a simple steel frame underneath, cheap 5-ply, small wood blocks to frame it up, a pair of cheap hinges and fine corrugated steel sheet for the roof which opened for cleaning. Olive loved it!
As I am slowly increasing my collection of tools I needed somewhere to keep them, so using some of that 5-ply and some pine bar I built a simple toolbox. Just nails, screws, and glue, and everything cut with the handsaw.
By this time however I am starting to gain momentum with my tool collecting, some of which has been Christmas or birthday gifts. More adventurous projects became possible, like the open wardrobe (still not finished lol), and the cake stand made for our church’s 25th anniversary. I now had a circular saw which I used to cut the wood for the cake stand, and an oscillating tool which proved very handy when cutting the wood for the wardrobe.
Collecting Tools & Knowledge
So, here’s what I want to encourage you with. With even a small collection of tools, and the space where you park the car to work in, it is possible to enjoy a wide variety of projects. As you collect more tools and experience you will steadily increase the scope of what you can do. There will be many projects you can do that you can give to your community. If have found that the more that you give with the right motive then the more that family and friends will take notice and might just give in return tools and materials that will take you even further. It’s a wonderful world when we have the heart to give to each other without expecting to receive.
One last tip, make sure you clean up after yourself, you just never know what might happen with the junk you leave lying around!
Next time I’ll show you how I started building a workshop in space that I don’t have!