Pilot canoe building project in the Longshed
It has been astonishing to see the sheer pleasure that can be had from taking a rough old piece of wood and fashioning a nice smooth rounded handle using a spokeshave and sandpaper, even if it was just for practice!
A few months ago WRT was approached by Just42 to see if there was a possible project that a small group of their youngsters could undertake in the Longshed. Just42 are a local open access youth provider which aims‘To make a positive impact on the lives of young people and children in rural Suffolk’.
A little research came up with a relatively simple project to build a Cajun Pirogue canoe – a flat bottomed canoe used originally by the ‘Cajun’ peoples in Louisiana as it is ideal for shallow water. Along with this will go two folding seats and of course a canoe needs paddles!
As a pilot for this sort of joint venture, 6 young boys and girls came to an open evening to hear about the project and all six self-selected to join.
Meeting initially for a couple of hours on a Tuesday evening, and supported by volunteers from Just42 and WRT, the first steps involved familiarising the youngsters with the workshop, its layout, tools and equipment. Lots of time was spent getting to know how to use basic tools such as planes and jigsaws and some more specific ones like spoke-shaves.
Thanks to a generous donation of some sweet chestnut from a local forest owner, the group has now started the more serious challenges and are marking out their paddle blanks – all they then have to do is remove any wood that doesn’t look like a paddle. Lots of challenges ahead but so much enjoyment and skill development already evident.