Student Spotlight: Lynne Caldwell

By: Aaron Green

On occasion, our ReBuilding Center education staff has the privilege of receiving feedback from former students who let us know what they’ve been up to since taking a class with us. Sometimes those students are first-timers, and other times, as in Lynne Caldwell’s case, they’re six-time returning students. Wow! We asked Lynne if she’d be willing to let us interview her for our newsletter, and thankfully, she agreed! We hope you enjoy her story and find as much inspiration from it as we do.

A few years ago, before taking any carpentry classes with us, Lynne remembers wanting to try to build garden boxes. After selecting a few eight-foot boards from Home Depot and having them cut down to size, she grabbed her drill and got to work.

But, as she recalls, “I had no prior training… I had only used a hand saw but never a power saw of any kind.” Lynne did accomplish assembling her garden boxes, but afterward, she knew that having even a little more knowledge and access to power tools would propel her confidence forward during her next project.

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Today, six classes with the Education team later, Lynne reflects, “I have learned so much from these classes from simple things, like why the little metal end is on the tape measure, to big things like becoming confident using a miter saw. The miter saw education and confidence has been the biggest thing for me and has made a huge difference in the projects that I feel comfortable trying.”

Lynne has gone on to build benches for her home, a work table for her garage, and she even replaced her garbage disposal after taking one of our Plumbing Basics classes. “One of my proudest accomplishments was replacing our garbage disposal… This is something that I have paid a handyman to do in the past, and I did it myself. And no leaks!”

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Recently, Lynne built her very own coffee table out of a salvaged slab of basketball court wood. A self-proclaimed semi-regular at the ReBuilding Center, Lynne noticed a few big sections of basketball court material in the lumber yard one day. “I love basketball,” she tells us. “But I couldn’t think of what to do with the big sections. Then…I found smaller pieces broken down with the other flooring [and] I decided to try to make something.” Wanting the colored stripes natural to the old game flooring to show, Lynne did little to strip the wood after she got it home. She tells us that she miter-cut four pieces of wood to make a frame, and then glued those pieces together around the flooring. A couple layers of polyurethane later, and Lynne had herself a fantastic new table, made completely by herself.

When we asked Lynne what she might get up to next, she said, “I am always trolling the RBC for ideas [but] I plan to build a martial arts belt display for my son.” Lynne says she’s also working on a large bench for her porch. “I plan to add cushions too so that I can take a nap. Covered porch napping bench!”

We also asked Lynne what’s brought her back to the shop for classes so many times. She nearly brought us to tears when she said, “The instructors are really wonderful! I can’t say enough about how welcoming and patient they are. They show enthusiasm for their work, and they aren’t judgmental with beginner’s questions. As a middle-aged woman I was afraid of feeling intimidated in seeking out beginning educational opportunities in using tools. [These] instructors have always been super pleasant, organized, patient, and encouraging.”

Thanks, Lynne! We can’t wait to see pictures of your son’s martial arts belt display and, of course, the napping bench! We hope to see you in the shop again soon.



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