Woodworking, the journey within

Medieval woodworking and carving skills have always held fascination for many people. The hand skills dexterity, visualisation, intricate measurements and planning, observing the big picture of the project developing from working the smaller portions, value of labour & hard work, sense of completion and satisfaction that is commonly associated with hand woodworking skills. This cannot be compared with factory like furniture and wood products make from intimidating robots like CNC (Computerised numerical control) machines and power tools which create impressive, precise, clinical and with a certain kind of coldness associated with such products and which can never be achieved by the human hand.

Hand woodworking appreciation is similar to hand made arts and paintings versus computer print-outs of the same whilst hand working involves that one works with the flaws, the knots, pith and rot. Spiritually, the more closely we observe, we notice that in nature, nothing is perfect, and neither are we ourselves, and wood working is also to about developing a sense of acceptance of imperfection in others and in ourselves. These imperfections are what make wood a beautiful material to work with to hone certain skills along with working on our inner selves.

Unfortunately, over time, hand woodworking skills have become redundant compared to machine & power tools, and this primeval skill which has lasted across centuries is often neglected. Certainly computer aided and power tools are essential to address the need for mass production and in a logical sense one would not need to know hand-carpentry when there is a successful mass production model, yet to satisfy a deeper satisfaction within ourselves that comes from working with our hands, the rigour and repetition needed to complete the job at hand, while also building a certain forces of ‘will’ within us.    

Today, with digital, power tools and age of mass production, the question arises why must we even learn such a skill as wood working especially in our childhood or even adulthood?

Steiner-Waldorf schools traditionally initiate carpentry to their kids in the ages of 10-11years, starting them of with small projects as the children move on to larger functional or artistic projects in their high school years.

The first is that it’s very rewarding to see something we’ve created by using our hands and our mind, develops patience and creativity to solve using what we have and what we know, and nothing like it if we can make this whole journey fun and enjoyable.

For earlier generations, like our parents and grandparents, working with hand tools was common practice and essential knowledge, where children may have worked with or observed their parents and imitated and learnt such skills including nailing things together, tape measures, painting, small repairs around the house, even demolitions or hand crafting a gift for loved ones. Such practices, traditions and skills have been lost and must be brought back to children at the right age to develop a joy for working with the hands, respect for labor & hardwork, sense of focus and completion, personal safety, spatial ability and acceptance among others.

Benefits of learning and developing wood working skills

  1. Creativity & Adaption – Carpentry teaches us its focus on capabilities, creativity and resilience. Carpentry encourages clearer thought process to execute without mishaps, errors and flaws as it becomes readily apparent to the eyes and sometime the mistakes cannot be undone and will need to bring it one’s creativity to correct, accept and adapt them to the project.
  2. Uncertainty – People can be unpredictable and can forget to relay important details. A job hindered by mistakes and changes, goes slow, costs money, and becomes discouraging for everyone involved. But with a little planning and a well-detailed layout, we can often avoid these problems by following certain work rules and practices.
  3. Focus, Confidence and Ability -Woodworking require a lot of focus, especially for complex projects. Like the common saying “Devil is in the details” developing an eye for details is an essential skill since accurate cuts and measurements are what allow projects to be successfully completed. It builds confidence and ability to take on small tasks around the house, save money or create simple things to your own taste and liking.
  4. Health & Safety – learning to pay special attention to safety precautions. Since it involves a lot of daily physical activity, the trade is well known for its positive impacts on physical strength, endurance, body control, and hand dexterity.
  5. Visualization – the ability to visualize 3D objects and understand how 2D renderings or blueprints translate into reality or consider the communication skills that you might attain to clearly express and listen to clients/instructions while working on woodworking projects
  6. As a job or earning path – to tangibly observe the things we use regularly at home (furniture, kitchen items) – develop an appreciative inquiry, an eye for details and craftsmanship. Job path as residential, commercial, industrial carpentry or even bench carpentry skills holds potential for real and good earnings for high caliber professional wood workers and carpenters.
  7. Enjoyment and satisfaction – to genuinely look forward to each day’s work. Woodworkers enjoy building things with their hands while using plenty of skill, precision, and creative ingenuity. And they put their hearts into their jobs so that they can stand back at the end of a project and see that it was built to last. They always know that their efforts can be easily measured and appreciated.

A few of the important skills that one can learn at “Skills Beyond Education’s” wood working courses:

  • Essentials: Understanding the nature & types of wood, its challenges, common terminologies and correct work practices.
  • Spatial intelligence: Carpentry teaches us situational awareness, safety awareness and a sense of carefully observing our surroundings, and vis-à-vis we become aware of the occupational Safety and first aid in the case of any job accidents along with cultivating spatial ability which is listed by the Howard Gardner as one of most essential skills and gifts for children & adults to develop.
  • Use of hand and power tools: For this particular workshop, we will only be working with hand-tools and to become familiar with chisels, levels, saws, manual-drills, joints, planes and sanding process.
  • Building frameworks: learn how to incorporate rafters, partitions, joints and studs to make strong frameworks.
  • Installation: learn how to install the pieces together with nails or screws to complete small projects for your home or as gift’s to friends and families.

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