Would woodwork work for you?

Words by Rob Cairns with Colin Groves

Wes’ workshop: Budding woodworker Taylor Miller with Wes Weight at the exhibition

Find out with the Eltham & District Woodworkers (E&DW). If you missed their recent exhibition, it’s not too late. 

E&DW is an “organisation which looks at all facets of woodworking including carving, turning, joinery, instrument making, scroll sawing, pyrography, and more” says Colin Groves – E&DW President. “Our premises are located on Ironbark Road, Yarrambat and we have a membership of over 120, males and females”. More than “look at”, these folks make stuff!

A prime example is David Green, a member for 17 years who designed and built a custom, made-to-measure stand-up desk (pictured) for me. It featured at the exhibition. As David’s client I was in the presence of a true craftsman: one who has the willingness and capability to make something well for its own sake; always striving to get better. (The YouTube clip of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” comes to mind – worth a look, if you haven’t). David consulted me over every aspect, from choice of materials and aesthetics to functionality challenges and opportunities, problem solving as we went. It was as if I made this desk without moving a muscle! 

David in his home workshop with the desk

Back when David first met E&DW he was embraced immediately and joined on the spot. With very few tools and little experience, he learnt by doing in the presence of others who shared their know-how. This accumulation over time of tacit capability, won from experience, improves the craftsmanship and the craftsman as a person, according to Richard Sennett (The Craftsman, 2008). 

Colin Groves continues: “As well as completing our own work we are involved in work for the community. In August we attend the Wattle Festival and our year culminates in our November exhibition where we display much of the work we have completed throughout the year, some [items are] for sale and some not. Also there, we have a children’s activity: Wes’ Workshop, where children complete the making of an object and can take it home with them. Finally our raffle is drawn at the end of the exhibition. It has 6 prizes handmade by members. 

We are always prepared to take on new members”. See elthamwoodworkers.org.au/