Seniors turn to woodworking to stay busy

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

The Fort Frances Senior Centre is back with its woodworking workshop that takes place at the garage in front of the Senior Centre.

These workshops operate under the guidelines of the Northwestern Health Unit (NWHU). Under the Yellow-Protect framework, the shop will be open two times a week with a limited capacity of four individuals indoors and a 72-hour window between each usage as per the NWHU’s guidelines.

Ken Noble, 82, Dr. John Spencer, 84, and Dave Beazley, 70, were all turning wood into masterpieces on Monday when they were finally able to use the workshop.

The woodworking workshop has been running for 30 years before COVID-19 ended its streak. Noble said the woodworking space has gained more prominence in the last seven years. There was a lot of interest in the woodworking workshop before the shutdown, and when the health unit allowed limited indoor gatherings, interest surfaced again, he said.

“They couldn’t get in there quick enough. Everybody out there can get a little bit of cabin fever sitting around,” Noble chuckled. “As soon as we opened that up, those guys were there. Back then they were phoning ahead now they are asking when we’re open. Everybody wants to get out and do something.”

Noble said he would like to see the workshop utilized by both men and women.

“I’d like to see more ladies involved because there’s no reason why they can’t do it,” Noble said. “If they’re not really comfortable with power tools, we can show them how to use power tools safely. We’ve had ladies stop in but they never come back. Maybe we’d have to work on something where we have a ladies evening or something just to get them started.”

Noble has been woodworking for decades, but has only picked up woodturning 10 years ago. Noble said he liked woodturning because he almost never ends up with what he envisioned.

“Every piece is different,” Noble said. “You have an idea when you start, but that can change pretty quickly if you make one wrong move with the chisel and all of a sudden you got to alter it and go a different path to make something different. Very rarely do you ever get two that resemble one another. It’s interesting, relaxing and an easy way to put in time.”

Noble said the process of turning the wood takes about an hour, but getting the wood sawed and glued together takes about eight hours.

“I make them as a hobby,” Noble said. “I give some away and I sell a few. I put a display at the library one time just to let people know what’s out there. But I don’t really care whether I sell them or not but after a while you get so many you got to go off on doing something.

Noble said although there has to be 72-hour window between each workshop, everyone brings their own equipment to minimize contact. He also said they have extra equipment that the town provides.

“That’s where we can all get along, go out there and all do our own thing and don’t really get in each other’s way and we help each other and that makes it better,” Noble said, “It’s a good place to go. I just wish there were more.”

Upcoming workshop dates in March are Saturday March 13, Wednesday March 17, Monday March 22, Friday March 26, Tuesday March 30.