Help Desk Furniture – Woodworking and Helping in Uganda

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Architecture Student's Business Supports Carpenters, Schools

Impressed with what Ugandan carpenters have been able to accomplish, "often with just a hacksaw," Brice Aarrestad has founded Help Desk Furniture Co. to promote the carpenters' talents, while also supporting Ugandan schools and putting his own skills to use.

The company setup: furniture made in Uganda, from sustainably sourced African hardwoods, will be sold to customers in the U.S., with profits funding Ugandan schools.

Brice first traveled to Uganda in 2009, on a two- week volunteer trip with Engineering Ministries International, acting as a designer and construction manager. He participated in another two-week trip in 2010; moved to Jinja, Uganda, for a 11/2- year stint in 2011; and spent another five weeks there this past summer.

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Brice Aarrestad used a Ugandan "locally made" mortising machine (a motor on one end with a shaft connected to a drill chuck) to bore holes in a bench frame.

Last summer's work included finding potential local workers with whom to partner, and building some prototypes. "There are workshops throughout the area, kind of like a warehouse, where carpenters will rent a corner of space. I went to those and asked around," plus got recommendations from expatriates, Brice said.

Most Ugandan woodworkers do a lot of their work with hand tools, Brice said. "It might be old Stanley #5s they got from the Brits who colonized the area. Antique tools are in regular use." The Ugandan carpenters do have power tools; again, "Some are relics

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