Entrepreneur

While I Dreaded Kemahiran Hidup, All These Kids In His Workshop Would Beg To Differ

Author’s Blurb: I remember my days doing Kemahiran Hidup really well. It was my first introduction to woodworking, and I was scared of splinters, the blades, and putting my craft together wonkily. While I don’t miss all of that, I still enjoy watching woodworking videos on YouTube a lot.

Kevin’s story couldn’t be more different. As far as he recalls, he was at least 5 when he began playing with his grandfather’s hand tools before he even knew what woodworking was.

While he didn’t pursue a career in carpentry in his early professional life, his passion for woodworking had such a strong calling that he would eventually go back to it.

In mid-2017, he started Kevin Build to run woodworking workshops. He began running classes in The Hatchery Place, a co-living space he co-founded, but had to stop after neighbour complaints.

Today, he collaborates with a few makerspaces and schools to run his workshops.

Using Your Hands

“The main intention of me running a woodworking workshop is to encourage more people to get in touch with their creativity by hand,” Kevin told Vulcan Post.

He caters his workshops to people of all ages, with children from as young as 5 or 6 up to adults as old as 80 attending.

Image Credit: Kevin Build

Kids’ workshops cost RM120, and during their time with Kevin, they’ll learn the basic skill of building and fixing things from scratch, something that—if I dare say so myself—many of us lack nowadays.

For adults, a workshop session will cost RM250, and Kevin welcomes those who have little to no woodworking experience.

He personally runs these workshops if there are less than 10 participants, but for larger workshops for corporate team building where there’ll be hundreds of participants, he’ll engage his team for assistance.

Kevin also works by this rule: “I made it a point that I will not cancel any class. The class will still proceed even if there is only 1 participant.”

He does his best to ensure that he sources for local materials whenever possible too, and chooses reputable lumber yards and suppliers with good track records.

More Than Just Sawing And Hammering

Most days, you’ll find Kevin doing coaching and workshop prep which includes scheduling, planning, and marketing to buying lumber, milling and cutting.

Kevin and some of his builds / Image Credit: Kevin Build

On the weekends, he’s dedicated to holding public workshops, which are usually open to only about 6 to 7 participants.

Woodworking isn’t just about the wood and the tools for Kevin though. His background in UX has helped him with the efficiency of his woodworking too.

“Having a structural way of planning and designing has helped in achieving better results. I also involve technology and incorporate 3D modelling in the designing stage for both commissioned projects and woodwork coaching sessions,” he shared.

Woodworking can definitely be a useful skill to have, but I didn’t know if there was much demand for it from the general public.

However, Kevin said that woodworking has never been out of trend.

“Working with wood connects one to nature and teaches people to appreciate natural material versus synthetic materials,” he said.

He also shared that he’s been seeing more and more people choosing to invest in experiences over material goods lately.

Image Credit: Kevin Build

“Many participants signed up their loved ones to workshops as a present, or as a celebration to make something together,” he said.

“This is something positive to see, and I am expecting this will continue for some time in the future.”

Dedication Leads To Recognition

Far from just being a simple woodworker, Kevin’s work has been recognised by the media and large brands, with him getting interviewed by TV2 back in 2018 for one of their Galeri Nasional Mandarin episodes.

A shelf by Kevin / Image Credit: Kevin Build

Recently, he was also featured by WD-40 Malaysia in one of their marketing campaigns as a woodworker who uses their spray in maintaining his woodworking tools.

On top of that, he’s had a few invitations to talk about his journey of jumping from a corporate job to running his own woodworking business.

Right now, one of the biggest challenges he continues to face is finding an appropriate venue for woodworking that’s also safe and suitable for children.

To solve that, he’s planning to open a woodworking school suitable for people of all ages.

It’ll be a place not only for them to learn, but also act as a connection point to get to know other crafters.

Bottom Line: As someone who spends a lot of time online and on devices, it’s true that I sometimes would like to invest my time in an activity that’s more hands-on like embroidery, knitting, flower arrangements or even painting. Now I’ll have to add woodworking to the ever-growing list of things I’d like to do instead of staying home and watching YouTube.

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Featured Image Credit: Kevin Build

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