View Full Version : Anyone from Cambodia?

Tim Scoville
02-24-2009, 9:56 AM

This is my first post. I've been "helping" out a Christian mission near Phnom Penh by equipping and starting a vocational woodworking shop over the last 2-plus years and we have need of a volunteer woodworker (retired cabinetmaker or experienced home woodworker perhaps) for at least a month at a time.

The shop is pretty well-equipped for local standards and you'd be teaching/mentoring about four young men to build furniture for sale locally to ex-pats and residents. They pick up on things quickly and have become quite adept at bandsaw boxes, simple tables and chairs, turned crafts (did some natural-edged mango bowls last week) but need help in the various joining and finishing methods. I'm finishing up my 5th trip in 27 months and just don't have the additional time.

There is too much to list for this post, but if this sounds interesting, please let me know and we'll talk further.


Tim Scoville

Brian Kent
02-24-2009, 12:21 PM

Thank you for issuing this invitation. I hope it comes at the right moment for someone's life. Things like this can become the most amazing experience of a lifetime.

Do you have any pictures of the shop? Have you integrated traditional cambodian woodworking tools with the western tools? How about Cambodian carving tools and techniques?

What is the product used for? Local sale, furniture for the woodworkers' own families, sale through groups like "10,000 Villages"?


Tim Scoville
02-25-2009, 10:52 AM

Thanks for your encouragement. It has been a real learning experience to be sure, made many mistakes along the way, but all-in-all has been a positive experience.

I have many pictures of the shop, young apprentices, and tools and will try and post soon. I need to reduce some files sizes to post many of them or figure another way for the curious to access by link.

If you mean by 'traditional' Cambodian tools, hand tools, not really. However, there does seem to be a crafted 'multi-machine' indigenous to Cambodia and much of Asia. This has been a recent addition to the shop after attempting to use western tools brought from prior trips and having them breakdown with no source for replacement parts. I'll share a pic very soon.

On our first trip, we visited an Ankor Artisans vocational training center in Siem Riep that trained students in stone and wood carving, among other skills. I've never carved but would like to try someday. Their carvings are very ornate, typically.

The crafts are sold abroad by word of mouth and craft sales in the US, but have need of outlets for better access to greater number of buyers. As we move toward furniture, picture frames, boxes, etc., the buyers will be more local - say to non-Cambodian residents or wealthy Cambodian homeowners, offices, businesses.

Looks like I was able to upload a couple pics from my friends camera. I'm the grey-haired guy. The person kneeling is my friend, an electrician, who is hooking up the switch for this machine. The other two men currently work in the shop. Taken last week. Every cabinet shop in Cambodia has one of these machines which is a table saw, jointer, planer, and horizontal mill/mortiser.

Tim Scoville

Brian Kent
02-25-2009, 11:07 AM
That machine is fascinating. I would love to see pics of it in action. Maybe that's your future u-tube video on woodworking in Cambodia!

Are you in need of other equipment? If so, are there customs problems where it costs people on your end to receive shipped goods?


Cliff Rohrabacher
02-25-2009, 2:58 PM
Ahh Cambodia~!!
If I were younger and single~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Mind bending beauty in Cambodia is as common as pigs tracks on a farm. The women ohh the women.

Tim Scoville
02-26-2009, 6:57 PM

I have seen it work in many local Khmer shops and does quite well. Not the precision machines we're used to, but close for around here. I will have some more photos and vids soon.

Yes customs is a big problem around here. What we began the shop with were pieces bought in the US and brought with us during earlier trips. We've brought over 2500 lbs of equipment and supplies in our five trips here. At the time we had 70 lb and 62 lineal inch limits on bags which helped. The problem with customs is that it is just an excuse for agents to collect off-book tariffs and bribes. It has typically required several trips to customs and you never know what it will cost to get it freed up. Since this is a Christian ministry, paying this money is frowned on.

Powered hand tools from China, Taiwan, Japan, and Europe can be found in the local markets, but anything bigger is rare.


Even my wife comments on the beauty of the Asian women we see during our trips.

But if I were younger and single, it would be the seventies. Not a good place to be as a foreigner back then...