El Salvador Trip 2013 — Part 3

I’m headed to El Salvador in a couple of weeks to help local craftsmen. I’ll be teaching them how to use a router and router table donated by Kreg Tool Company. Most of these craftsmen have never used a router, so I’ll have to start with the basics. I’ll be presenting two, 2-day seminars at two separate locations with 6 to 8 craftsmen in attendance at each one.

In preparation for the seminar, I was trying to come up with a project we could build during the seminar that would cover basic routing techniques. I played around with a design in SketchUp and came up with this Shaker-style wall shelf:

It incorporates routing edge profiles with roundover bits. And I’ll be talking about routing out the shape of the ends of the shelf using a template. I’ll also talk about joinery options for cutting rabbet and dado joints. I intend to present options for joinery since we’ll have access to Kreg pocket hole jigs.

In order to test my ideas, I made a couple of samples. One is made from inexpensive poplar. I hope to be able to disassemble it and take it with me on my trip to show as a demo. The other sample is made from Lyptus and finished with a coat of boiled linseed oil.

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El Salvador Trip 2013 – Part 2

El Buen GustoMy wife and I have developed the tradition of going out on a date most every Friday evening. Sometimes it’s nothing more than getting an ice cream cone and taking a walk in the park. It’s our chance to reconnect after a busy week and something we really look forward to.

This latest Friday night, we had no particular place to go, so we just got in the car and started driving. Since my decision to travel to El Salvador with Tools for Opportunity, we had a lot to talk about as we drove. About 45 minutes later, we ended up in Perry, Iowa. We needed to fill up with gasoline, so I stopped at a local station. I asked a woman whether or not the town had any good restaurants. She recommended a Mexican place a couple blocks away. Turns out, there was a car show downtown so navigating was a challenge. We asked a young couple how to get there and found a place to park. As I got out of the car, I noticed what looked like a Mexican restaurant. But it wasn’t in the middle of the block as I had been told. So I strolled down the street. I found the Mexican restaurant. But I was intrigued by this other restaurant near our parking spot: El Buen Gusto. Restaurante Tipico Salvadoreno. Authentic Salvadoran Restaurant. What are the odds?

We walked in and had a seat in this cozy café. Our server, Melissa, was a native of El Salvador and was great in helping us decide what to order. For appetizers, we had pupusas with curtido and empanadas. Wikipedia says Salvadorans often use the term empanada to mean an appetizer or dessert made of plantains stuffed with sweet cream. The plantains are then lightly fried and served warm with a sprinkle of sugar. They also sometimes include red fried beans. We had both. They were quite tasty.Torta de Lenqua

For my main dish, I chose the Torta de Lengua. It’s basically a sandwich with meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado, radish slices, and mayo. Your choice of meat is chicken, pork, or…tongue. Yep. Beef tongue. And that’s what I ordered. The tongue had the texture and taste of roast beef. It was cooked in small cubes and was quite tender.

For dessert, we wandered through the cars on display downtown then stopped at Firehouse Ice Cream for a chocolate/vanilla twist.

What does this have to do with woodworking? Not a darn thing. Except that it’s one of many steps toward a venture to El Salvador to spend time with woodworkers.

El Salvador Trip 2013 – Part 1

I was asked by the president and coordinator of Tools for Opportunity to attend a recent board meeting and discuss writing a two-day curriculum for craftsmen in El Salvador. They want to be able to teach these talented woodworkers some basic business principles plus show them how power tools can benefit their business. Kreg Tool has donated 10 of their benchtop router tables and Triton routers. They mentioned that they’re planning a trip for October 2013, so any curriculum would need to be fully developed by then.

Craftsman in El Salvador

During this discussion, the board members said that it would be really, really great if I could go and present the classes. I told them I’d have to consider it.

Then, at the end of the two-hour long meeting, I was asked to become a member of the Board of Directors for Tools for Opportunity. I was shocked and humbled to have been asked to join this organization. (Check out their web page to learn more about them.) I’ve known Gene Pedersen, board president, as an associate at August Home Publishing (my “day job” is as a senior editor for Woodsmith and ShopNotes magazines). Another board member, Doug Hicks, was a former vice-president at August Home Publishing. Doug was instrumental in developing and coordinating weekly woodworking seminars at the Woodsmith Store. Doug was the one to get me actively involved in the seminars at the store starting in 2005 and I’m still involved today. So I had a history with these two guys and they know me well. Still, I was surprised to have been asked to join the board.

I’ve now committed to joining the group going to El Salvador in the fall. I already have a passport and a few of the required immunizations. It will be a busy time over the next couple of months writing curriculum and trying to get a crash course in Spanish. My year of Spanish with Miss Biesecker in high school won’t cut it. Fortunately, we’ll have translators during the trip.