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It only seems fitting after commemorating the vicious  cost of war that I should leave Ottawa with a little nod to a symbol of peace. Over the (ahem) tail end of last week, I had the great fortune to take a course at the Ottawa City Woodshop with the Minimalist Woodworker, Vic Tessalin (Shameless plug, buy his new book here!).  The course focused on the essential basics of woodworking right from the theory side of woodworking (there’s a surprising amount of detail to be learned here) to the cutting my first-ever dove tail joints and the making of a small wooden box.

Vic’s knowledge, experience and passion for woodworking made the course engaging and extremely informative. On the third day, after learning some theory and seeing the skills demonstrated, the class proceeded to saw, chisel and (in my case) hack away at some small pre-cut pieces of pine.   Coached along by Vic and some additional help from Mike from the Woodshop we proceeded to construct our boxes.

I’m really pleased with the result, and to add another skill to my inventory.  I’ve been doing pretty rudimentary carpentry for years, but proper joinery is something that fascinates me.   The most beautiful part of this is that aside from a couple of electric saw cuts to get all of our materials ready (en mass), this whole project was done with hand tools.   As I read and watch more tutorials I’m steadily realizing that hand tools are an far sight faster when you’re building custom pieces.   The tendency to pull out a table saw, skill saw, or sander to build simple stuff is huge, and especially for beginners, they’re far less intimidating than something like a hand plane..  Which really is counter-intuitive..

Let me tell you though, making shavings with a hand plane is OH-so satisfying..   Sooooo much satisfy…

Made a dovetailed box at the Ottawa City Woodshop. This is the final product, and I'm super pleased with how it turned out.

Made a dovetailed box at the Ottawa City Woodshop. This is the final product, and I’m super pleased with how it turned out.

Seriously, if you’re in, near or travelling past Ottawa any time soon, go take a course.. These guys are awesome!

But wait, there’s more..

So, I’ve got to confess.   While I’ve been on a bit of a minimalism kick lately, I’ve been finding myself going a little stir-crazy without having tools to make, build and create..   I’m waiting on some of my stuff to arrive from Calgary, and that will help, but I couldn’t help myself any longer, so I tracked down Zelikovitz Leathers in Ottawa, and bought some basic supplies to do a bit of leather work. I tried to get stuff  that I didn’t already have, and now I’ll have a pretty well rounded kit when the rest gets here.  It’s also worth mentioning that the ladies at the shop were incredibly helpful and very friendly and I’ll definitely be back when I’m through town again. I did find leather prices quite a bit more expensive than my favourite shop in Calgary (Buckskin Leather) but their selection of equipment and tools was awesome..

I’ve wanted to build myself a wallet for a while, and never quite got around to doing it, so after the woodshop course was done last night, I stayed up a bit late and built one..  I’m super-pleased with the result of this one too.   My stitching is a bit askew at the corner, but overall it seems to hold my cards really well, and I’m super pleased with the Zelikovitz brand Midnight Blue leather dye.  It’s water based, and super-easy to clean up for a sloppy maker like this guy!

A day of Creativity, new wallet and my first-ever dovetailed box.

A day of Creativity, new wallet and my first-ever dovetailed box.

I even made a sheath for the stitching chisel that I picked up Zelikovitz; these are an in-house brand and super sharp!

(Sorry about the colour on this photo, I’m trying to get this post published and well, the colour correction department is on holiday..)

Made a sheath for my perforating chisel.

Made a sheath for my perforating chisel.