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.