Community over Competition was a resounding theme this year for Workbench Con and really in my opinion the theme about the maker community. I’ve never been part of a community that is so willing to help each other without worrying about something in return. It’s not a perfect community, there is still a tad bit of drama here and there (On Instagram) but for the most part everyone at this conference was genuine and helpful.
Workbench Con Day 2 Recap!
Extreme Cold Weather
Its been pretty cold here in Alberta and not much in the way of woodworking has happened. Well after a week of extreme temps, I said FU Winter and took in the sun and blue skies. Working on my tan early …
If you’ve been following me on Instagram you’ll have likely seen my video during Christmas time where I re-enacted Chevy Chase cutting the newel post saying “Fixed the Newel Post!”. If not, check this link out. At that point I decided the banister that separated our kitchen from the sunken living room had to go. It created this unnecessary division between the two rooms that really made things appear smaller. So we ripped it out on Christmas Day and called it “Christmas Day Reno’s” the latest hit series on HGTV!
I’ve been wanting for sometime to get some decent video of me in the shop and perhaps a little interview of who I am and why I do what I do. I was approached by Raoul Bhatt who I’ve known in the Edmonton IT Community for a few years, approached me as he’s looking to add more video to his portfolio. I was happy to oblige and what I got in return was pretty awesome.
Late this past November, I was approached by Busy Bee Tools and asked if I would be interested in doing a demonstration in their facility. I was both excited and nervous at the prospect of “teaching” or showing my hobby in front of people who likely know much more than I do when it comes to woodworking….
Shou Sugi Ban - What is old is new
There seems to be a resurgence of a wood finishing technique called Shou Sugi Ban which essentially is charring wood to waterproof it. Shou Sugi Ban (焼杉板) originated in Japan in the 18th century primarily as a way to treat cedar siding to make it weatherproof. The finished result (called Yakisugi) creates a unique texture and colouring that cannot be achieved with stain.
What is old is new
I’ve just recently started applying this finish to a few different projects and I am absolutely in love with this technique. After brushing away the charred wood, you are left with a texture of the harder grains that give the piece a textured feel unlike sanding a finished product to 220 grit. The colouring on woods such as pine is something you cannot achieve with stain, it has it’s own unique colour.
Over the last few weeks it seems to me that this method of finishing is being rekindled and is showing up more and more on sites like Instagram. When done properly, this can bring a unique characteristic to any piece of furniture or wood product.
Below is a quick video I did on Instagram of the process. It is a simple process yet I’m finding people are not completing the whole process and calling wood they’ve just burnt “Shou Sugi Ban”. Wood burnt and left on is just that, bunt wood. It’s important to brush away the charred soot that’s left on the piece so that oil can be properly applied to the wood and allow the real texture to shine through.
Over the last four years, Cask Woodworking has been bringing custom handcrafted objects of wood to its customers. I’ve always believed in quality and investing in things that will last the test of time. Cask Woodworking was created four years ago when tragedy struck our family and something that started as an outlet has quickly turned into a passion. That journey is shared today.
How I Got Started
Shortly after Mother’s Day 2013, my brother Michael died in a drowning accident at a high alpine lake in British Columbia. This news shocked our family to the core as my brother left behind a wife and three young children. My brother was a family man and loved his wife and kids with such passion and it was this same passion that he had for his work and part of that work was mill work. My brother wasn’t necessarily a woodworker, he had a lot of tools and collected a lot as he was a millwright by trade. However when he built things, it was with quality and precision and I always admired that about him.
Not long after the tragedy, we were looking to move into a new larger house as our family was growing and at the same time we needed more furniture. My wife started looking on Kijiji for coffee tables and side tables and came across what I came to find out was an Anna White X-Coffee table. We’ve all seen it over Pinterest, Google Images, etc… everyone has built this table. When my wife showed it to me, I quickly said “I could built that”, and at that point I’ve been making things out of wood ever since.
It was at this point I started collecting tools, very much like my brother did. When I build projects, I know he’s looking down on me supporting what I do, laughing at my mistakes, and just being with me even though he’s not physically here with us today. It’s just one way I feel I can connect with him and what continues to drive my passion for building things.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
Now I’m not really inventing anything as the saying goes, however as I mentioned we were moving into a new house and we needed more furniture. I build the X-Coffee table but couldn’t just built it as cheaply as possible, that’s just not my taste. The corner brackets which could be cheap brackets at Home Depot wasn’t good enough. I ended up getting in touch with Shaun Cunningham of Front Step Forge and had him make me some custom brackets with nails used from the early 1900’s. It was this additional flair that gave me creative outlet that I could apply to any project.
I started making little nick knacks like iPad and iPhone holders, cutting boards, charcuterie boards, etc. My next biggest build was a barn door to block out the light from our ensuite at the new house. Made from pallet wood and steel edging, this project further solidified my need to make and it exploded from there.
Growth and Community
Being a self taught woodworker/maker, I knew in order to grow beyond my first few projects, I needed to get around others that were better than me. Really it’s a success principal I’ve lived my whole life. I got connected with Instagram and boy was I shocked at how many amazing people were on there creating beautiful things. The maker community is one of the most diverse and friendliest communities I’ve ever been apart of online. It’s rare to find that online these days and it just seems this maker community is in a bubble of it’s own.
I’ve used this community to learn from others like Brad Rodriguez @fixthisbuildthat, Ryan MacDonald @macnwood, and of course my cousin Rob Purvis @stonecitywoodworks who has become more of a brother to me than a cousin. There are many more amazing people in this community so I highly encourage you to watch and reach out to them if you are just getting started.
Continued growth, continued support of this maker community and continued making of amazing wood objects. This is a passion that I’ll carry with me until my days are done and I look forward to sharing my version of it over the years.
The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.
— Benjamin Franklin
As you can see I've made a change to the website. I found the other platform to be way to slow and in turn that made your experience on my site less than ideal. I believe the move to Squarespace will provide a much better experience when browsing my gallery or being able to purchase items directly from the site.
While the site still has a few more tweaks to go for consistency and a few other items, I felt it best to move now as the other site was just way to slow.
If you have feedback, let me know!