Help Desk Furniture – Woodworking and Helping in Uganda

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Architecture Student’s Business Supports Carpenters, Schools

Impressed with Ugandan carpenters have been able to accomplish, “often with just hacksaw,” Brice Aarrestad has founded 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 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 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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