While still on my notice period at work, I came across a Basic Carpentry Workshop that was being offered at a maker space in Koramangala, Bengaluru. It was a two-day weekend workshop, but I felt it was a bit expensive. After some back and-forth, I decided to attend it anyway, because I couldn’t find other options in my city. On the first day of the workshop, after a brief introduction, we were shown a few power tools such as a table saw, jig saw, router, sander and we were asked to work on three small projects: the first was a rubber wood clock face (of any curved shape) that we had to cut using a jig saw; then was a small rubber wood shelf with a French Cleat; and the third was an X-type base for a coffee table using pine wood (to which we could add a glass top at home), which called for lap joints as well as mortise-and-tenon joints.
On the second day, we were given a piece of 12mm plywood that was two feet long and a foot wide. We were asked to come up with a design, make a cutting plan, cut it on the table saw (with assistance) and then put it together. I wanted to use the entire piece without any wastage, and I decided to make a tray with dividers like a cutlery sorter. I guess since it was a very short introductory workshop, we didn’t have much time for joinery, and it was quicker to put pieces together with glue and a nail gun.
I felt this workshop was better suited to someone who has a more casual interest in the subject and just wants a little peek into what woodworking is about. While the brochure looked promising, after attending it I felt the workshop tried to pack too much into too short a time. Since we had to make three things on the first day, it was a bit rushed. All the projects required the use of power tools, and most times the instructor operated the tools for us, due to the obvious and valid safety risks. While this was a little frustrating during the workshop, it helped me realize that I should focus on learning the use of hand tools first, rather than power tools. In this way, I felt I might be able to learn the basics of woodworking without the need for too much supervision, or the risk of serious accidents and injury.
On the whole, I was glad I attended this workshop because it gave me the opportunity to handle wood and use proper tools for the first time. It helped me to feel less intimidated by woodworking, which is conventionally seen as a man’s domain, and glaringly so in India. I think it’s only quite recently that there are more women trying their hand at DIY carpentry through similar weekend workshops. And just as they might have, I discovered that I could learn to handle tools correctly and that it wasn’t impossible for me to make things on my own.