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The Act Of Making by Bruce Sharp

The following articles are an extraction from Bruce Sharp’s Blog ‘Built by Bruce’. Bruce is a long standing Carbatec Melbourne Retail Staff Member and a retired Woodworking Teacher who continues to share his passion for woodworking to the community including volunteering to teach a local disability group on a weekly basis.

The act of making is its own end! My friends may comprehend nothing of the object they have created, but are always richer for having been engaged in the act of making it. With little prior experience of working in disability services, I had no means of judging the progress of a lesson. More experienced people than I advised that I just need to look for smiles. In our work we create plenty of smiles as we jointly hold a project and thump away with two hands on the same hammer. Our spinning tops only made sense when an able pair of hands made them spin so many of them became gifts not personal toys. But again, we managed to spread the enthusiasm.

Idea One

Here are three disks threaded onto a dowel. Top disk, 60mm dia., 6mm ply. In the middle is 18mm ply 40mm dia. On the bottom is the flywheel, 200mm dia., 18mm ply.

I hammered a 10mm dowel through 9.5mm holes. A little glue helps keep it all together. A pencil sharpener made the point. The handle can be a piece of anything with an11mm hole drilled.

Most importantly, it spins forever! No tinkering to tune it up. Just one pull and it spins for a really long time.

Sadly, as cool as it may be, this is a reject idea; the making happens too quickly. Bang in one dowel and it is finished. When work with my friends so importantly exploits close time this really efficient construction reduces that co-operation time. But the idea is so good I will exploit it in some other work I do.

Idea Two

Launching the big top above takes a high level of dexterity. A bit of wobble while pulling the string puts the wide rim on the floor. So version two is smaller with a different handle.

This smaller top is even faster to make, but the handle takes me a really long time using machinery which I may not use with my friends. I enjoy the act of making too. Somehow I became so engaged that I forgot who the project was for and made a handle for myself. Time required makes this handle silly as a batch production exercise. Spinning time for this smaller model is reduced from the big one but the smaller scale is cheaper on materials.


Idea Three

1. Success this time. The top is the same as the last attempt, but the handle is fabricated rather than carved. Fabricating the handle sets up an opportunity to bang in dowels together.

2. A puzzle can be solved as handle parts are stacked in order. Then, together, we will drill four holes and hammer in four dowels.

3. That pencil sharpener above is how we put a point on the end of the shaft. For string, use any strong thread and drill an appropriate hole in the shaft.


Lessons are an Act of Sharing

My inventive/creative work continues through opportunities to share what I enjoy. There are customers at a wood tools shop where I work part time. But, most importantly, there are clients at a day care facility for intellectually disabled men and women. This latter is a volunteer opportunity that I sought. It is utterly engaging and a continuous source of fulfilment. At each of our weekly lessons I give an idea and receive trust and goodwill in return. Our mutual catalyst is the act of hammering pre-cut pieces of wood to make: boxes, toys, presents...

At the heart of this blog is a desire to share ideas about what to make with woodworkers whose skills are limited or just emerging. Success is a carrot for enthusiasm , and having an engaging thing to make helps beginnings be less clumsy.

And what will these ideas be? Whenever I find an interesting object, I ask myself the question, Can it be made from wood? My responses to that question generate long mental meanderings that are frequently accompanied by prototyping as an idea matures. There is no doubt that this sort of work must be derivative, but I hope that readers will find moments of originality as this blog follows the things I make. Postings will be based on the weekly makings of my disabled friends.


Noughts and Crosses


Read more of Bruce Sharps Blog at www.builtbybruce.blogspot.com.au or visit Bruce at our Melbourne store in Springvale.