Friday, 7 June 2013

A Carpentry Update

The reason I came to Denmark, of course, was to do a carpentry course, and I realise now that I've spoken very little about it in the past couple of months. So, here goes. 

For far longer than I'd care to acknowledge, we worked at making miniature wooden framed houses. I started off working alone, as did my partner (incidentally, my real life partner), and we each made half of the basic frame, as illustrated below.

When we joined forces, the fun started. We argued like cats and dogs and my difficulty with understanding this new world of carpentry, coupled with Leo's desire to get on with the work on his own, spelt a few weeks spent in frustration and wishing it was just over.

Both sides of the frame joined, and a floor added
Tar-paper as a basic insulator and rafters, the beginning of a roof
Somewhere along the way we got a scaffolding qualification (Where's Wally?)

To complete the project we also put cladding on the walls of our house and did more work on the roof, and we now have a basic tiny house which is for sale along with the two others that were completed in the class.

For the past week, and for the remaining 3/4, we are free to work on our own informal projects with the guidance of the teacher. I'm working on a to-scale size of what my final project will be, a fire wood holder (don't steal my idea!). 

~ ~ ~ ~

Here's the bit when I reflect on my experiences and maybe even talk a little about my feelings.
The woodworking experience so far has been a lot of ups and downs. Lately, it's been on the up, and I'm really enjoying the experience now. But once I got over the initial few weeks, and the not knowing if I was going to be rubbish forever or just a slow learner, everything seemed to be impossible. 

There wasn't a huge amount of class cohesion and the teaching was sporadic. I wanted one-to-one attention but didn't want to draw attention to how far behind I felt. Besides the course, I hadn't managed to find a job yet and my confidence was a bit low as a result. 

Luckily, since we finished with our tiny houses, a project which was exhausted and at times unsatisfying, things have really improved. I was feeling really useless for a few weeks, but I went back to basics, designed a basic model of my own in SketchUp, and started working on it. I've been making simple mortise and tenon joints this week, and next week I'll move on.

Because of a competition, work, illness etc. I was actually the only person in my class today, and it was really wonderful. Not only did I get a chance to work in quiet and without inhibition (aren't we all self conscious when doing new things?), but I had a chance to talk in-depth with my teacher. He's a really great guy, and we had coffee, talked about his experience moving to Denmark and starting a woodworking education, my plans, how I'm finding the class, and most importantly, how to chisel out a mortise properly. 

Every day now I feel like I learn so much. Before I was stuck in a rut, but now I notice a distinct improvement in the accuracy of my cuts, of my markings, how easily I sharpen my chisel, and how to use it carefully and skilfully. It's amazing how much my mood has improved, I look forward to spending time in class and I find myself thinking about carpentry in my free time. 

Thanks for taking the time to read, I won't bore you with carpentry talk for a few more weeks!

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