The aim of this workshop was to introduce the kids to basic carpentry skills and show them possible applications. We had some very simple hand tools available: a few hammers, handsaws and pliers. To start off, we foraged the school grounds for materials to use. We found a lot of spare wooden boards, sheet metal and old furniture. Some of the broken benches were deemed salvable, others were broken down for their parts.
Conveying good working etiquette was a key element at this point. A lot of the wood had sharp edges or rusty metal pieces in it and some kids had never used these tools before. It was definitively challenging to coordinate so many kids and ensure that they were all working safely. Using the found pieces, we practised how to remove nails effectively, how to achieve the most force and accuracy when using the hammer and how to best hold a piece of wood when cutting it. Old nails were pulled out of the boards and faulty areas sawed off to create usable material.
The next challenge was using these new components to re-enforce and repair the run-down benches and desks around the school. The original construction of the furniture could be used as a guideline, making it a good exercise for understanding how to build something stable. The kids showed much ingenuity and intuition in fixing and improving the existing structures.
Based on these first experiences, we started to construct designs from scratch and taking on bigger projects. One example were two stepladders to be used in a theatre project. Furthermore, we patched together a sun shelter for the Love School yard using thick timber poles and scraps of corrugated iron. Especially these larger-scale endeavours required the kids to communicate and work together.