Chris Lawlor and Adrian Finlay turn wood into wonders in their night classes in St Colmcille’s Community School, in Dublin 16’s suburb of Knocklyon.
The Woodturning class, delivered by Chris, offers the woodturning beginner the basic skills in tool control, turning methods and machine safety. Covering both spindle turning and faceplate work, beginners start with simple objects such as a 'Twig Vase', and progress onto more complex items by the end of the ten-week course. Those who already have some experience of woodturning are given projects of a suitable level and encouraged to advance their skill level and range of techniques. Class sizes are kept small and there is one student per lathe, ensuring that students have a fully hands-on experience.
Both Chris and Adrian deliver the Woodworking and Furniture Making class. In this, participants work through a variety of projects during which they learn basic woodworking and furniture making skills. Learning the correct use of power and hand tools, participants also learn how to prepare solid timber and panel board as well as finishing and polishing techniques.
“Altogether, we run classes in woodturning, cabinet making, and wood carving every week,” says Chris, who worked as a cabinet maker and project manager in a furniture company himself. “As a project manager, I ran projects up to a value of €1 million.” Then, he moved to Dublin Institute of Technology as a lecturer in the wood section, working with apprentices and the degree programme. “I upskilled in DIT during the recession and have a degree in timber production management, so I also bring industry experience to the work,” says Chris.
“We get a good mix of night class students, young and old, experienced and people with no experience. We also have mixed genders in the class with three to four women in woodturning and about five in the cabinet making class.”
Classes like these are useful for people who want to make gifts for family or friends; some set up workshops at home; and others have moved into apprenticeships and then industry.
“The benefits of our night classes are that they can provide stress relief for people who may work in offices all day. They can zone out for a while. With the woodturning, you can see the project, let’s say a bowl, coming together quite quickly and you can take a finished piece home at the end of the night. There’s a satisfaction in making and building something and seeing it through to the end.”