Get Woodworking Week 2015: Monday

Well, we’re off and running with Get Woodworking Week 2015, and things are going great!  I hope you are taking the time this week to demonstrate a few skills, build a special gift for someone in your life and spark an interest in woodworking in someone important in your life.

Today, I offer a guest post by Christian Holihan of Artisan Care. He poses an interesting question – do people not choose to get into woodworking as a hobby or even a career because they just simply don’t know what fine craftsmanship even looks like?  Here’s his take on that chicken-or-egg conundrum…

In early spring 2013, my wife saw a picture of an “easy” kitchen island on Pinterest that was featured on ana-white.com. She simply had to have it and insisted that I build it for her. I thought she was joking because I had never built anything or even had the desire. At her urging, I looked at the plans and realized I didn’t even have the tools I needed: a circular saw and a Kreg Jig. When I presented these obstacles to her she made me a deal. She would buy the tools for me for Mother’s Day (it was 2 weeks away) if I would build her the island for Father’s Day. I had nothing to lose and tools to gain, so I agreed.

The kitchen island

I decided that mistakes should be made on a practice project. I learned valuable lessons (made a lot of mistakes) on the workbench that came with the Kreg plans and I was able to build her island in time for Father’s Day.

I thought that would be the end of the story, but the building bug had bitten me. I wanted more and went to the only woodworking resources I knew: Norm and the New Yankee Workshop, and The Woodwright’s Shop with Roy Underhill. Thank you PBS. Because of workshop space and no money for shop tools, I started learning about hand tools and traditional joinery. I realized that there was very little I could not build with a chisel, a dovetail saw, a hammer and sweat. I began buying and restoring antique tools. I started building really nice pieces and posting them online. I was even commissioned to build a walnut display case for a friend.

The Walnut display case

But last spring I was struck with a realization: most people don’t get to experience hand crafted, heirloom quality anything. Hobbyists make items for their friends or family, and professionals make high-end pieces with high-end prices (as they should). People in low income situations would never experience something of quality because things don’t last long enough to be passed down anymore. That was not ok with me. Nobody deserves particle board. So I decided to do something about it.

I started Artisan Care. We build heirloom quality furniture and give it away to families or organizations that could never afford it. I invite craftspeople together for a weekend to build a dining room table and benches. We raise the money, find the family, invite builders, find a designer, build a table, and give it away. Read about our first table built in October 2014. Now we get to do it again.

The first table

We build tables because it provides a point of gathering for family, generations, and community. As much as possible, we use local wood. I want to feature local furniture makers by building pieces they design for the event.

This event it portable! A build can happen in any city, anywhere. I hope to facilitate and help build projects all over the country. Imagine building with artisans, lumber, designers and then giving to someone, all in your community!

The dream is to buy a piece of property, build a shop that can host future builds and provide a place where groups and individuals can come experience the immense satisfaction that comes with making something you have personally sweat and bled for. A place than can continue to build quality furniture and give it away.

The final project, properly badged

If you would like to get involved, please let me know. If you want to donate or sponsor a build, PLEASE let me know. Spread the word to your local community. Follow Artisan Care on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Most importantly, keeping making, keep building, and keep looking for ways to give back. Start with your neighbor. She gave me my first chisel.

Wow, now that’s one way to get interest in woodworking! Remember, if you write about Get Woodworking Week, be sure to let my trained shop monkey know at iggy@tomsworkbench.com, and I’ll be sure to list them.

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