I thought I would be kept away from any form of woodworking for another year after I agreed to a back-to-back assignment in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Luckily for me, the local high school runs adult classes for the community in the evenings. When I saw “Woodwork - All Levels” in the brochure I was hooked. The only problem was to pick a project. I remembered my wife mentioning that she had nowhere to put all of her precious gems and I also remembered Norm doing a jewelry box as the 12th project of the 2000 season. Now that it’s done, I’ve sent Norm a picture and he has put it on his web site.
The next challenge was finding the oak. Project-quantity hardwood is very difficult to find in Scotland. I found a timber shop that would be happy to sell me a cubic meter of oak planks, for £2,500 but
that was a bit much!
I finally did track down one of the only timber shops in Scotland that would sell me two 10’ x 9” x 2” planks, Braemont Timber just off Leith Walk. Getting it home involved a MacGyver-like manoeuver with the sunroof of our little car... Unfortunately the wood was quite wet and getting flat pieces out the planks was a challenge.
Milling of the wood was done in class on Tuesday nights.
The class is taught by Bob Motion, the retired wood shop teacher at the school. He started his career in woodworking by apprenticing as a teenager, then working at a cabinet company for a couple of years. He then took up technical wood shop teaching and taught for 34 years before retiring. He has been teaching the night classes for 7 years now just because he enjoys it. Bob was able to teach me a trick of the expert at almost every point of construction. Looking back I think this project was too ambitious for the night class, but Bob never blinked and worked with me every step along the way.
It turns out that Bob is the only one allowed to use the table saw, planer, joiner and bandsaw. I would tell Bob what finished dimensions I wanted and he would make the cuts.
That left me to run the belt sander, disc sander, drill press, router, biscuit machine and hand tools. I also did a lot of work at home on the dining room table, as you can see from the last picture below. The butcher-block table needed to be refinished anyway, but now it really does!