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Beating Those Winter Blues

Just when Old Man Winter seems to be lasting too long, I and a half-dozen or so of my neighbours take part in a little “sawdust therapy.” It’s always just what the doctor ordered! It begins when the phone rings and the voice of Gladys Ryback of Lake Audy says, “Carpentry Night starts tomorrow!” Talk about short notice! But, after all the years we’ve been participating, she knows that we will have projects chosen and supplies at the ready.

Carpentry Night began several years ago when a group of women decided to take carpentry lessons from Lisa Chemerika of Mountain Road, but, both time and distance put the kybosh on continuing. Instead, Gladys Ryback began hosting Carpentry Night in her and husband Gerry’s well-lit, wood-heated shop.

Although it began as “Ladies Carpentry,” men quickly infiltrated and we’re known as the “L. A. Woodchucks” – a group of neighbours working together, sharing our tools and being productive.

I’ve learned a lot of things over the years, like “measure twice and cut once.” I’ve also learned that there are two sides of a pencil mark. One side will be accurate but not the other, as the blade chews away a little bit of the wood. After a lot of wobbly cutting I’ve learned to use a scroll saw and I’m no longer intimidated by the brad nailer.

Our group has produced many interesting and varied projects – bird, bat and doghouses, bird feeders, garden stools, bookshelves, a toy chest, a hat rack, lawn furniture, an entertainment unit and even a computer desk. John Spaller of Lake Audy turns bowls and candlesticks on the lathe. Marcia Foord of Crawford Park, repairs and refinishes furniture. Dick and Myrtle Gawiuk are making rocking chairs for their deck.

After an hour and a half of measuring, sawing, sanding and nailing, we stop and take a tea break. Then it’s time to sweep up.

Carpentry Night has honed my independence, giving me a sense that I don’t have to rely entirely on my partner to achieve my carpentry goals. And, of course, it’s always fun to say, “I made that, you know!”

– Candy Irwin writes from Lake Audy, Manitoba

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