Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gordon Has Been Busy!

Nearly three years ago, when Gordon and I decided to spend our winters volunteering in Cambodia, we thought it would be fun to share some of our skills.  Gordon's hobby and passion is woodworking, especially making furniture.  Mine is sewing and needlework. 

Our first volunteer  experience in Cambodia was at a primary school.  I taught hand sewing and embroidery, while Gordon designed and built ten wooden computer desks plus a shelving unit to house laptop computers that were being charged.  Everything was custom built, mostly using battery operated power tools, since electricity was often unavailable at the school.  They loved the desks so much, shortly after we left  they hired carpenters to build several more.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  No kidding.

Last year there was plenty of work to keep us both occupied at Honour Village, which was a newly opened orphanage.  Click on this link to read about Gordon's many woodworking projects during our stay.  As the orphanage expanded, they realized they needed more furniture and storage, so even before we left,  they had several more projects lined up for Gordon on his return.   

I've already blogged this year about my efforts to teach sewing and embroidery classes, and about teaching one student to sew on a treadle machine.  And before you begin to wonder whether or not Gordon actually came along on this trip, it's about time I shared what he's been doing.  Here's how it's been going so far..

Gordon has one or two favourite 'hardware stores' that he buys from.
No labelled shelves here.  Bargaining is expected.
If you want something, you gesticulate or draw it out on paper.
Gordon is great at 'making do' when he can't find what he needs
which happens quite frequently here.

This is the lumber department of the hardware store
with some plumbing supplies thrown in.
Plywood costs about the same as in Canada but is poorer quality 

We discovered they had a secret stash of thin plywood in back.

You can transport just about anything in or on a tuk-tuk.
Here, the driver is using thin strapping to secure a sheet of plywood to the roof.
I didn't think it would hold....

I was also worried we might take off &  be airborne,
but we actually made the 15 km ride without any problems
and then did it again a few days later. Wheeee, what a ride!!

Gordon also bought a load of rough lumber at a lumber yard.
This year he had the luxury of having all the wood planed to the same thickness
because workers were already onsite planing wood for the new house (House 4)

The first thing Gordon needed to do was make saw horses.
The ones he made last year had found another home.
He uses a set of battery operated Rockwell power tools
since there is no electricity on site

Next he neede to add a centre brace
to the benches he made last year
Then he permanently screwed down all the bench tops
since the wood had now been given a year to dry out.
He had left them loosely tacked last year
to prevent the tops from splitting.  It worked.

His next project was to make wooden lockers (cupboards) for each dormitory
He's had lots of expert supervision

He had a volunteer helper for a few days, but mostly he works alone

The cupboard construction is much more sturdy and stable
 using a Kreg jig system, generaously donated by the Kreg company

This clamp, part of the Kreg system, keeps the wood in place while it is being fastened.
Gordon uses his power tools sparingly, and often works with hand tools
since there is no electricity onsite to recharge the batteries once they are exhausted

The carcass for one of the lockers.  He's built four in all - one for each dormitory.
Each locker has 15 compartments.  Each compartment has a hinged door with a latch
That's 60 doors, 120 hinges, 360 screws (not counting the latches).

The lockers are so heavy that they had to be carried up to the second floor balcony
before the doors and backs were mounted to cut down on the total weight.
The final assembly will be done upsgtairs.
The interiors are painted white, and the exterior colour of each cupboard
will be selected by the children living in each house

Gordon's other big project is a wooden 'surround' for the outer ring of this lotus pond
which will actually form the back of a circular seat facing the pond. 
He is also building a gate to close off the entrance to the pond
which will make it safer for small children.

Using  simple, but primitive handmade clamps to secure strips of wood,
Gordon  bends the strips of wood for the seat backs
along the outer edge of the lotus pond which acts as a natural form.
You can see the entrance to the pond here.

Here is a piece of wood that has been bent to shape

Gordon hand chisels out the ends to fit and overlap them for gluing.
With no electricity, a lot of the work has been done by hand.

At the end of the day,
some of the guys like to hang around with Gordon

And occasionally Gordon sits around with the girls....

But mostly, he's too beat to even notice if anyone's around.

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