A wood shop set up in the basement of Paul Shipman's house where he hosts virtual classes during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Source: Paul Shipman)

Winnipeggers and Manitobans who have been looking to start or continue a hobby have been given a chance thanks to an online woodworking class.

Paul Shipman, who is the supervisor and an instructor at the Bronx Park Community Centre woodshop, has been hosting virtual classes from the comfort of his basement.

"Basically, what we are trying to do is keep some of our membership engaged as well as members of the broader public. This is open to everybody," said Shipman.

He said this program has been in place since April 2020 and it has been a space where those who participate can discuss anything to do with woodworking and some projects have come from the sessions as well.

"We quickly pivoted that into doing some build-along projects," he said, noting they have built things such as a bird feeder and a squirrel picnic table.

Source: Paul Shipman

Shipman said he designed the projects himself and he has made them possible so people can make them with limited tools, such as a hammer and a handsaw.

Shipman felt it was important to offer this online program to keep the woodworking community together and help each other with their projects throughout the pandemic.

"We're always working together and talking together and encouraging each other on our projects. So I wanted to make sure that was still going on during the pandemic."

He said since the classes started there has been regular attendance with the most recent class seeing 20 people join in.

The feedback for the classes has also been very positive with Shipman saying he has received emails with people noting how fun and informative they are.

Source: Paul Shipman

Shipman said he took a break due to the holidays and the program started up again on Wednesday. He said there are plans in place to do another build-along class as well.

"(It) could end up being a farmhouse-style trestle table."

The classes run every Wednesday starting at 6:30 p.m. and last around two hours. For those who might be interested in joining in, all the information can be found on the Bronx Park Community Centre's website.

Shipman invites anyone and everyone to attend the virtual classes and said no specific skill level is required to join in.

Before the pandemic hit, the woodshop at the community centre would host weekly classes for all levels of woodworkers. There were classes for beginners to learn how to use the tools, to more advanced classes where people can work on their own projects.

Shipman said when life returns to normal, the plan is to continue those in-person classes again.