Turning the tables on the COVID-19 pandemic boredom: People find hope in wood
OTTAWA -- In a world of COVID-19 routines and monotonous predictability, change is welcome, even if that change means going with the grain.
At a Nepean wood store, there is a lot of grain from which to choose. Along with exotic boards and live-edge planks, KJP Select Hardwoods supplies offerings of learning and new beginnings.
"We are a hobby and woodworking store," said owner, Matthew Arnold.
"We sell to woodworkers, furniture makers, and anyone doing DIY stuff. And of course, we offer workshops and seminars on woodworking," said Arnold.
"We used to typically run them on Saturdays but now with COVID, and people being at home, we can run them during the week. We have no issues filling up the classes."
One of the store’s more popular workshops extends an invitation to take a seat a table you fashion yourself.
"It’s called an epoxy river class. They pick out a live-edge slab, they build a form, pick out a colour and pour epoxy into the coffee table form," Arnold said.
"Then we pop them out, plane them and go through the steps of learning how to finish them. At the end of the day, they put oil on one side and you get to take home the finished piece."
Just five or six students take part in the classes, headed by one of KJP’s experienced staffers.
Physical distancing and COVID-19 precautions are strictly enforced. Classes are geared towards beginners and there is no woodworking experience required.
"We see some people who have never held a drill. They’re learning a new skill and are definitely out of their comfort zone. When they leave with a finished coffee table, you see a real sense of accomplishment," he said.
Judy Ricard is taking a class with her husband, Tony.
"He’s just recently retired from the military so we’re learning to do things together. So, this was a good opportunity for us to do something we always wanted to do but spend the time together," she said.
"At the end of the day, you’re walking away with a product you’re going to put in your home," said Tony Ricard.
"That coffee table is going in our home and people are going to go 'oooh and ahhh' and we’re just going to enjoy it.”
Some haven’t done any woodworking since high school. The journey was a happy accident.
"I actually started searching online for tables," said Todd Boyce.
"My wife pointed me to the website for this company. I thought 'looks interesting', so I came and made my own table. It’s been a lot of fun."
For others, time at KJP Hardwoods is a gift from family.
"Oh, it was a good gift," said Rob Nevin.
"I didn’t have to buy any of the tools. I just show up and there’s free pastries inside, so it’s all good," he said, with a laugh.
"I have a collection of tools at home, but the kids are there and when I come here I don’t worry about hurting anybody, or myself," said Nevin.
With the students wearing masks, it’s difficult to determine if they are enjoying these classes. However, owner, Matthew Arnold is confident they are.
"I assume under their masks there are big smiles," he said.
"We welcome everyone to come in and discover a new hobby, if they’re not already into woodworking," he said.
KJP Select Hardwoods is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday. To find out more about workshops and seminars, you can visit the store’s website at kjpselecthardwoods.com.