Machine Based Woodworking In Ghana




Woodworking Project

The Problem: Lacking Essential Woodworking Tools

Jeffry explains Moringa's Woodworking Project

By the time the average Ghanaian woodworker reaches 40 years of age, his hard labor has taken such a terrible toll on his body that he is no longer physically able to perform his duties. At first glance, the simplicity of Ghanaian woodworkers’ hand work may seem charming in comparison with American industrial methods, but the harsh reality for carpenters and woodworkers in West Africa is the tedium of dawn to dusk hours of hard work for sub-poverty wages. Tools are so limited in supply that it is nearly impossible for Ghana to value add anything to its lumber resources, which for the most part remain unprocessed. Additionally, the few wealthy people in West Africa tend to purchase their furniture from foreign sources, since Ghana’s remarkably skilled, hardworking tradesman lack the tooling and technology they need to produce finer goods. It is not lack of ability or work ethic that impoverishes Ghana's tradesmen, but rather lack of basic, essential tools that every first world carpenter, woodworker, and furniture maker has. Such essential tools include the woodworking table saw, jointer, and thickness planer. These tools are as essential to the woodworker as the potter's wheel is essential to the potter, or the loom or sewing machine is essential to the seamstress.

The Obstacle: Only Basic Hand Power Tools Are Practical in Ghana

DeWalt-Official Moringa Sponsor  
 These basic hand held power tools are all that is required to make one of Mr. Jeffry's Machine Shops.   Moringa is blessed to have DeWalt Industrial   sponsor at least 10 Mr.Jeffry's Third World Machine Shops to Date.  DeWalt has also supplied us with many other fine machines to equip our Moringa School of Trades Woodworking Shop. 
These simple tools, which are available in Ghana, are all that is required to make Mr. Jeffry's Machine Shop.  We first thought that we could raise money to ship western style stationary woodworking equipment to Ghana to jump start some local businesses and improve local economies with the creation of jobs. It was a nice thought, but ultimately, it’s an impractical and impossible answer, for several reasons. First, public electricity is not available to everyone in Ghana. Most African woodworking shops that can only afford small generators that cannot support a 15 or 20 amp stationary table saw. Even when public electricity is available, the reality is that only basic hand power tools are practical and affordable for most African carpenters.

The Practical Solution: Mr. Jeffry’s Third World Machine Shop

Abu demonstrates the grueling task of working by
hand, and then demonstrates the contrasting efficiency of Mr. Jeffry's Machine Shop.
In the YouTube-Moringa-Video-Above,  Abu demonstrates the grueling task of working by hand, and then demonstrates the contrasting efficiency of Mr. Jeffry's Machine Shop. Abu celebrates completing this door in only 90 minutes, when the same door would take two men two+ weeks to complete using the standard hand molding plane methods currently employed in Ghana.

Mr. Jeffry's Third World Machine Shop innovatively uses only two common and relatively inexpensive hand held power tools as efficient highly accurate, contemporary production equipment. All that is needed to create each third world machine unit is one existing machine unit, one hand held router, one hand held circular saw, two router bits, on circular saw blade, 1/3 sheet of 3/4" particle board, and 10 board feet of African hardwood. One machine unit can thus beget dozens of replicas of itself and those dozens in turn used to create even more units. The unit in the video at right was created exclusively from another unit that preceded it. It is made up of only one router and one hand held circular saw that is reinstalled in our special Mr.J's Third World Machine Shop.  The machine works amazingly well and produces fine and reliable accurate stock pieces and joinery configurations. It should be noted that even the rough (initially chainsaw cut lumber) is milled and trued into the components to beget more of Mr.Jeffry's Third World Machine Shop from just the use a 7 1/4" Circular Saw and a 3HP Router.

 DeWalt Donaton On our Truck
Our Moringa Truck full loaded with five pallets
of donated machine tools from DeWalt Industrial

 Moringa Community has been most fortunate to have had DeWalt Industrial, a division of parent company Stanley Black & Decker step forward in early 2010 to act as our sponsor for our Third World Machine Shop Woodworking Project.  Not only did DeWalt donate (10) ten new 3HP routers and (10) ten  new 7 1/4" circular saws,  DeWalt-Dubai shipped us (5) five crates of lightly used and reconditioned additional tooling ranging from radial arms saws and miter saws to a job site jointer planer machine among other very useful tools. 

Mr. Jeffry’s Third World Machine Shop (MJTMS) costs an affordable $600, while a typical American machine shop with similar capabilities costs $5,000. Additionally, the Machine Shop is easy to assemble and use.  It does however take one complete MJTMS to fabricate a clone of itself as all components must be very precise in their fit and joinery. 

The MJTMS machines are currently in full use at our Moringa Community Training Center in Baako. We are using it very effectively to produce many things including, Furniture, Weaving Looms, Beehives, Doors, Frames, boxes, and wooden implements used in other trades such as food preparation and farming.

Abu celebrates completing this door in only 90 minutes, when the same door would take two men three weeks to complete using standard methods in Ghana.
With this MJTWMS machine, Ghanaian carpenters can save themselves an immense amount of labor so that can earn a decent living— for example, while it might take two men weeks of hard labor to complete a door, one man can do the same with only 90 minutes of labor using this machine.

Moringa Community is proud to have not only completed the construction of the Moringa Community Center, in the village of Baako, but we are adding on many additional buildings, aided by our Moringa Woodshop that include a Fabric Arts Center, a Computer and Business Education Lab, and Live Stock farming structures.  Our students learn how to use this machinery to make a good living and improve their lives. Moringa is also especially committed to training children on the streets a productive trade so that they can be contributing members of society.

Moringa Community's mission is not to necessarily make Ghana an industrialized nation. Our goal is not to remove the tradition of human power in Ghana, but rather enable Ghanaians to develop sustainable local economies and give hope for a bright and stable future through appropriate technology that we can make available to the rural population. 

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