The re-education of the sisters: the wonderful world of woodworking!

Steffanie and I both know that we have a fairly limited skill set when it comes to country living. Yes, we can put together a garden thanks to our childhood but knowing about growing tomatoes and parsley isn’t exactly enough to transform ourselves from urban corporate warriors to countryside Amazons. As we have a tight budget, we know that doing some of the work ourselves is going to save us money. But, we also want our home to be inviting – not like a group of drunk-monkeys-with-hammers got a hold of some plywood and a nail gun and decided to build a patio. So, off we went for woodworking lessons.

Once again, fortune smiled on us and we found a great teacher named Tom Fidgen. Originally from  Cape Breton, Tom is a  hand-tool specialist and gives lessons in his studio here in Toronto. Having never taught women before, I can imagine the impression the two of us made at ten in the morning with lip-gloss and hoop earrings and a pink hammer. At the time, the pink hammer was the only tool in my possession which I bought at a breast cancer fundraiser (because I was tired of ruining my shoes trying to hang pictures.) Tom, despite initial nervousness and faced with two tall, glossed up women beaming with pride about some sort of useless pink tool – was a patient, engaging, humorous and excellent teacher who made the lessons really fun! When he was first attempting to describe a wood plane, we both inspected the tool in front of us and exclaimed in unison – Wow! it works just like a foot plane at the spa! Basically, woodworking is giving a piece of wood a pedicure. You even use varnish! Ha! See, woodworking summed up in less than ten words.

In our first lesson we learned about wood planes, different sharpeners, how to saw, how to look at a piece of wood and know which is the “pith” side and to “plane to the points”. In our second lesson we learned different joints including bridal and dovetail joints. In just two lessons we both felt like a whole new world was opening for us. It’s made us both feel empowered and confident enough to take on other challenges. Now when we look at IKEA furniture its not- gee, that’s cute….it’s hey, we can make that! Many thanks to Tom! and for those in the Toronto area wanting to book a lesson or anyone who wants to check out his work and website please drop by:

First lesson – Steffanie saws!

First lesson - Laura saws!

First lesson – Laura saws!

Our first joint – who knew they had cheeks and shoulders?

Our first dovetail! fancy!

Laura Hamilton
Laura Hamilton


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