Friday, September 16, 2011
A big part of our operation is the Opportunity Center Woodshop. Our missionaries work with their hands building furniture and other wood products, and this is largely how we make a living and support the ministry. Donations of money and materials are always welcome, but building and selling products not only helps our ministry be sustainable, it also provides a huge connecting point, as well as a training environment and sets the stage for multiplying economic opportunities in hurting areas.
Starting in February of this year, we've been receiving an average of 35 hardwood pallets a week from a local tool and die factory. We have been disassembling them, planing the wood, and making sturdy outdoor furniture, like our popular deck chairs. We also made the furniture for La Mancha Cafe in the Old North neighborhood. We were all surprised and pleased with how well the recycled pallet material translated into indoor furniture.
A woman asked us to build four custom dining room chairs for her, and wanted arms on them (something we'd never done) and wanted a light colored stain, and they would have to finished in polyurethane (something else we had never done). This project supplied a perfect opportunity for us to increase our skills in product design and wood finishing. This is the first product we've made with a light colored translucent stain that would really highlight the character of the recycled wood.
We came up with a unique design that allowed us to build a traditional looking armed chair, but without complicated joinery which would have required machinery and know-how we don't possess. The chairs are very sturdy, incredibly heavy, and fit her dining room perfectly. Because the chairs were finished in a light stain, and the pallets are made from an assortment of hardwoods, we matched up like -kind and complimentary woods, so each chair is a unique work.
Our next project is a conference table made from recycled church pews and recycled pallets.
If you would like to volunteer in the woodshop, donate tools or materials, or learn more about our products, you can check out our facebook page or contact Jason at 314-437-3861.