When David Scannell from Benchspace, a local woodworking workshop in Cork city’s Marina center, invited me to participate in a woodworking workshop this past Saturday, I was all for it. I love handcrafting anything and they had no idea that at age 19 I was an assistant woodworking counselor at The Hole In The Wall Gang Camp. If you read my main blog, EvinOK, you know I love a good DIY project, so I leapt at the chance to participate and shuffled the kids’ schedules to make it happen.
The four-hour session’s focus was to make a holder for a bottle of Kinsale Gin and two glasses. I signed up for it being sold by the creative element and to learn what Benchspace is like, but then it turns out the event was sponsored by Kinsale Gin and they thought it was sad for us to make gin bottle holders without knowing we’d have the gin and glasses, so the generous folks at Kinsale Gin sent participants home with a bottle and two glasses. I love how businesses, especially smaller ones, support one another here in Cork – and even Ireland overall. And as with any activity in Cork, I ran into people I know… Billy Lyons, CathyFlamingo, Kelly, Deirdre, Maria, and many more.
Knitters, take note of the OWLS Sweater.
The session was structured well, with a lot of flexibility for inexperienced woodworkers and chatty folks. We started with an overview on the process then we chose our cut wood pieces from which we would trim, drill, cut, and sand to create our individual gin holders.
Martin explained the process and what to expect. Here, he is showing us the cuts of wood from which to choose. I think he’s holding my piece there. As we worked, he and the gang checked in on us throughout the session to keep us going and help as needed in a pleasant way.
There was one cut of Yew that called to me. I can’t explain it, but it was the one. It had character and looked like it had stories to tell. Though a little more of a challenge to retain the wood’s character while still creating a stable holder, it
would be was well worth it. Is it too philosophical to say it reminded me of life taking its toll on us but having it add to our character?
Next, we set up our work stations with the necessary tools and started measuring twice.
Then came trimming the wood with a serious Japanese saw that reminded me of a mix between a boning knife (for fish) and a bread knife. That thing has teeth!
We got to try a few different approaches and tools, which was fun, but ultimately I learned that it takes real arm muscles to use some of these with ease. My arms are aching two days later! And keep in mind I dead lift 25-pound and 40-pound children daily, so my arms are expected to work.
Of course, what would the holder be without holes for the bottle and glasses. There were two drills set up, one for each size bit/hole. This one drilled the center hole for the bottle.
Here I am werkin’ it. Oh that pun looks worse written down. Oh well.
After the two glasses holes were drilled [by me], I measured and cut the notches to slip the glasses in. Then, Martin chiseled the inner edge.
Here is a pic of Billy and me showing off our boards. His edges had already been sanded at this point and mine were about to be. But we’re all smiles! Having had ear infections for a month now, I opted for ear protection at times to prevent the ringing in my ears from getting worse. It was nice they have these handy.
Naturally, I got distracted and tested the board out to make sure it would work to safely hold the Kinsale Gin bottle and two glasses… Spoiler alert: It does! The character was retained and it is sturdy.
I really love the Ruff Hewn appearance. Nature made this perfectly and I am thrilled that its true character shines through while still helping me safely hold my Kinsale Gin bottle and glasses.
I love how it looked at that point, but it needed sanding still. Especially after seeing Billy’s edges so lovely and rounded. Martin helped again as did David. To round the edges slightly, Martin used a mechanical edge sander. Then David used a belt sander to smooth the rich top and lovely bottom. I then used a piece of sandpaper to touch up the edges and work away the crumbling parts of the bark that might later fall off onto my cheese plate at a party leaving me mortified and devastated. Ok, not really either of those outcomes, but why not take care of the bark right then.
I absolutely love this shot of Martin sanding edges.
Here is a shot of David helped Billy. Throughout the session, one of the folks at Benchspace guided us through the process and demonstrated it at our level of experience, without any hint of condescension.
The day was fun and I have a bespoke made-by-me Kinsale Gin bottle and glass holder to show for it.
The entire time I was there, I kept thinking this would be an amazing hen outing or stag do. Of course, it is no shock that I would think that considering my own wholesome hen night included food, a dance off, and ice cream sundaes, then last year when I had the good fortune to plan a hen do for Sara, we did a pottery session at Crafty Hands. But the workspace also has an annual membership and you can just work on your own projects.
You can learn about upcoming sessions by liking and following Benchspace on Facebook and Twitter. In fact, they have two upcoming sessions in time for Christmas gifts (or stress relief). Christmas Bites classes on Saturday, December 2 and Saturday, December 9 – two sessions each day: 10am and 2pm. Join the Benchspace team for four hours to learn how to hand-craft beautiful Scandinavian Wood Shaving Christmas Decorations. Benchspace Bites are short introductory sessions where you can make your very own piece in a single class. These sessions are a great chance to try your hand at woodworking with no experience necessary and very fun to do solo or with a friend (or five). The valuable skills learned during the class can be applied to almost any future woodwork project, but also amazing bragging rights to the family over Christmas dinner. Non-members pay €43.68 for a Benchspace Bites session. Cost to members is €30 + Eventbrite fee. Members also receive advance notice of upcoming events. Annual membership is just €54.44.
What have you made lately?