Woodworking in the Woods

I recently went on an official trip to Nanital. My first ever. I was accompanied by my colleague, Avni. We were to attend a woodworking workshop at our wonderful host- Abhimanyu’s Maker Space, which is aptly titled- Mistri Labs. Abhimanyu fell in love with wood some 12 years back, and thanks to him, we had a chance to appreciate and love wood too.

It was a 2 and half day trip, too little time, too much to do. We started our journey on 13th March and reached Nanital around afternoon. Our first sight as we reached Nanital was the view of Naini lake surrounded by mountains. Somehow that view freshened us up and after reaching Vimal Kunj- the hotel that has Mistri Labs in built- we had a quick lunch and an hour later, we were in the lab.  Abhimanyu showed us around the lab- it had everything- from basic hand tools to all the cool new power tools, the best part of the lab was the tiny theatre set up at the back with a projector screen and bean bags.

The MakersBox Girls at Mistri Labs, Learning Wood Working and Falling in Love with the Wood - Building Partnerships and Sharing Knowledge with Other Maker Spaces, Taking the Maker Culture Forward in India

Like any classroom, we started with basics. The first question we were asked,‘Where does wood come from?’ Laughable, but we understood many things about the material that we are surrounded with but never truly look at by just that fundamental question.

First, it’s a living material. Second, how do use the properties of wood against it? Third, how do you fall in love with wood?

We spent the entire day working with hand tools- chisels, hammers and hand saws. Tired and exhausted by the end of it, we entered the kitchen to explore our skill of making pizzas. Little did we know, that we are going to wake up with throbbing pain in our shoulders with all that hammering.

Day 2 was easier.  Started our day with a morning walk through the streets of Nanital and a breakfast of chai and omelette and back to the lab. Began with brainstorming about what projects we would like to work on, designing it on a 3D software and then came the fun and dangerous part- using power tools to cut wood.

Woodworking is essentially just cutting off material and joining it to create structures.

Cutting from hammer and chisel though a tedious time taking task is easier to do and comparatively safer from the power tools. Power tools is a different ball game altogether. We worked with mitre saw, table saw, jigsaw, router and an angle grinder. And all of them were more or less scary to operate, but precision was on point. From designing to measurement to making joints and carving, we spent our entire day working with wood. Oddly rewarding. We did stop for tea when it started raining but were back to work soon after. We ended our day with a movie in the theatre. Tired. Happy. And relaxed.

Building Objects with Wood, While we take the Maker Movement Forward - The Girls of MakersBox at MistriLabs in Nainital

Our last day was all about refining our projects. That is an art in itself. The most fun and the most frustrating part of woodworking- sanding and polishing. Spent hours sanding our pieces and then we got to observe how different polish work on wood- we used linseed oil polish for Mahogany and Sal and a simple spray paint polish for Indian pine. We had finally completed our projects just in time to head back home.

On the train journey back, I kept wondering about all that I had learnt and my experience with wood. For me, one thing that changed after the workshop was how I look at wood now and the growing appreciation for the material. Thanks to Abhimanyu, I am always going to look at wood with a different eye.

If you are interested in woodworking, or have always wanted to learn a little more, head to our makers space and let us give you a tour and let’s chat about, grains, wood and making or better yet, head to Nanital and fall in love with wood too.