Woodwork Academy Berlin shows you don’t need IKEA. Get some wood and make some furniture.
While taking a trip to IKEA feels like an exciting day out at a strange gallery (a gallery that sells hotdogs…), buying that same KALLAX range of shelves as all your friends is, for me, boring… and a real creativity strangler.
I was bouncing this thought around when I came across the Woodwork Academy Berlin, and decided that, IKEA instructions be damned, I was going to take a stab at making my own furniture.
The Woodwork Academy Two-Day Beginner’s Workshop at Betahaus
The course I opted for was a beginner’s two-day workshop at Betahaus. It’s led by Lluis Mateu, an affable carpenter with 25 years’ experience (and lots of sawdust) under his belt. I didn’t really know what I was undertaking but figured that as long as I focused, paid attention and gave due respect to Lluis, the big saws and other whirling-death machines, I would emerge with all my fingers attached and some sort of wooden contraption to show for my labours.
Under his endlessly patient guidance (this is important when you’re playing with saws bigger than your head), he taught nine Berliners with no woodworking experience the ins and outs of various tools and machines, how to cut wood safely and correctly, and how to produce something usable to take home.
Meet my new self-made wooden shelf
I came away from the workshop with a little cubic shelf (see the harrowed-looking reporter below) that now sits prettily on my desk and holds a small number of books and journals. But the final pieces varied wildly from person to person. One woodwork protégé opted for a coffee tray, another a shoe rack. Someone else made a laptop stand complete with a neat hole for wires and cables to pass through. There was a slim but sturdy stool, and even a meditation altar to hold various incense and candles.
I had expected something more prepacked from the course – that we’d all be building the same thing – but I was very surprised at the amount of freedom and creativity the project allowed us. The only limitations were the size of the materials provided and the time allowed to work, but aside from that, we were free to design anything we wanted. Everyone left there with something entirely different. It was a deeply satisfying, if not exhausting, experience.
The beginner’s course isn’t the only programme offered there, but it is a prerequisite for using the tools in the workshop. If hand tools are more your speed, Lluis has a deeply meditative course that deals with constructing Japanese wood puzzles. And if you’re someone who already knows their way around a jigsaw, have no tools of your own but have a project you’d love to see materialised, you can visit Betahaus in the evenings under the watchful eye of Lluis and his colleague to make that wood come to life.
Interested in woodwork and making your own furniture? Sign up to a course at Woodwork Academy Berlin.
Woodwork Academy Berlin at Betahaus
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