Monday, January 5, 2009

Kenyan Woodworking

In August 2008 I had the opportunity to try woodworking with no power tools at all, certainly not my first choice. We were in Wongonyi village, Kenya. We had discovered that everybody walks everywhere and it is rarely more than a few dozen yards in any direction before you are going up or down. We had ordered sand and gravel for making concrete Biosand water filters. After the stone is crushed by hand hammers and sorted to the correct size, it would be carried in five gallon buckets on the strong backs of local workers.

This seemed like a good time to build some wheelbarrows. Wheels were ordered for the next shopping trip in town and the local wood supplier has some 3 by 4 lumber that was closes enough for our needs.
With Eddie doing the hard work and me doing the planning we set to work. The generosity of several stores in Bracebridge provieded many tools that we needed. A Fiskars pruning saw with Japanese style blade cut quickly and cleanly through the lumber. Chisels and hand plane from Muskoka Lumber came in handy when shaping the handles and cutting mortises. New spade drill bits from Home Depot were teamed with a yard sale brace for drilling holes.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Garden Writing

I came into freelance writing in a casual sort of way. My wife, Kathy, had been writing for The Muskoka Sun and one article concerned a patio that I had made for our garden. She casually referred to its construction out of recycled materials and what a great margain it was.
When I challenged her on her offhand comments for the time and effort involved, she suggested that I write my version of its construction. What followed was my side of the story describing several round trips to Toronto to bring the stone back to Bracebridge, hours spent cutting and laying and the indiginity of being referred to as "Pigpen" in reference to the clouds of stone dust that followed me from workplace to jobsite.
With one successful article in print, I offered to do a series on garden tools. This eventually evolved into my weekly column of tools and projects combinig some useful tips with a little humour chronicalling many of our home and garden projects.