Thirty-two-year-old retired Canadian Armed Forces veteran Chris Klodt recently watched a crew of skilled, volunteer carpenters frame up a 22 by 22-foot building next to his home in Flamborough, Ont.
That crew was from Toronto-based Carpenters' Local 1030 and part of a network of unionized trades donating their time to build Klodt a custom woodshop under the Renos for Heroes (R4H) umbrella.
Klodt was with the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry when he was shot in 2006 in Afghanistan. The injury has left him mostly paralyzed from the chest down, although he has the use of his arms and hands. He is wheelchair-bound.
The accessible workshop is designed for Klodt to work from his wheelchair on a range of wood projects that include the use of everything from a table saw to a planer.
"It's been a solid effort on behalf of the union from the ground up," says Mike Humphries, business representative, Carpenters Local 27, Vaughan, Ont.
Humphries, who sits on the R4H (Renos for Heroes) board, says his role is to coordinate the trades for the carpentry side of any of the organization's projects.
Prior to framing, Hamilton-based E-Zee Forming (Local 1030) did foundation form work. The concrete slab was done by a crew from Cement Masons Local 598. Dufferin Concrete supplied the concrete.
The roof, shingles, board-and-batten siding and eaves troughs are being installed by volunteers from Local 27, says Humphries, an armed forces vet. Lighting will be provided by Lando Lighting Galleries.
Klodt, whose interest in woodworking goes back 20 years when his grandfather bought him a tool set, says he was approached by R4H organizers about building the workshop for him. The space will provide the avid woodworker with a modern shop to do small and large projects.
Among the wood projects on Klodt's to-do list will be shadow boxes for other armed forces veterans – a showcase for their medals – and a cedar-lined oak deacon's bench for his home. "I have a nice design in my head."
While all the labor for the woodshop is volunteered, the R4H is sometimes given a break on the cost of materials from a corps of suppliers ready at a moment's notice to come to the plate for a worthy cause. Among the suppliers for Klodt's workshop are: Central Fairbank Lumber (wood frame and roof trusses); Pella Windows; Mississauga-based Robertson Bright Inc., electrical work; and, Kenco Electrical Supply Inc., says Daryl Caruk, R4H executive director.
The project is one of the larger jobs done by the growing Renos for Heroes. So far, its projects have been in Ontario, but organizers have plans to go national in the near future, says Caruk.