New Brunswick

How an inclusive woodworking class makes craft more welcoming

A University of New Brunswick course instructor hopes to make woodworking more welcoming for women and gender-diverse people.

Program has proven popular with all the sessions for this year sold out

Students are learning woodworking joinery at a class at Ville Cooperative. (Mrinali Anchan/CBC)

The hum of saws and the haze of sawdust fills the air at the Ville Cooperative community centre in Fredericton as several students try their hand at woodworking joinery.

Clare Tahershamsi is teaching the course that is a University of New Brunswick leisure learning program. It is open to the public.

The four-week course is aimed at teaching basic wood joinery — connecting pieces of wood to build objects like stools and boxes.

The class is made up of several women and gender-diverse students, all eager to learn the tricks of the trade. The program began earlier this month.

Clare Tahershamsi is a University of New Brunswick leisure learning woodworking instructor. (Mrinali Anchan/CBC)

In over 20 years of wood-shop experience, Tahershamsi said an inclusive environment can make the craft more welcoming.

It is that atmosphere that has led to all the sessions of the course being sold out for this year, according to Tahershamsi.

"I think generally women like working with women because ... it kind of lowers the nervousness ... so it's a nice sort of easy way to transition into doing woodworking." 

Catherine Bates attended her second class. (Mrinali Anchan/CBC)

Catherine Bates, a participant who was attending her second class, said she was a bit nervous about using the machinery, but that hasn't stopped her.

"I've always wanted to take woodworking and I've lived all over Canada as an active military person. I'm retired now ... I moved here two months ago and I couldn't believe that I saw a woodworking course. I immediately signed up for it.

"I know there's nothing to be afraid of, but it's more a fear of the unknown."

Tahershamsi shows Bates how to properly saw a piece of wood. (Mrinali Anchan/CBC)

She'd like to be able to take on larger projects.

"I've always paid people to make decks for me, which is ridiculous because it's easy to do, but I don't have the tools. But I would love to get more experience with that."

Bates said apart from the woodworking it is great to get out and see other people.

"A lot of us have been working from home and this is a social outing as well as a learning experience." 



Mrinali has worked in newsrooms in Toronto, Windsor and Fredericton. She has written and produced stories for CBC's The National, CBC Radio's Cross Country Checkup, CBC News Network and CBC Entertainment News. Have a tip?


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