By: John Stoesser
Carpentry isn’t always associated with competition, medals and glory but Algonquin carpentry apprentice, Cody Malloch, aims for it all when he represents Canada at the WorldSkills International Competition next July.
Malloch said, “My goal is to win gold, obviously, but also to do my best.”
From July 2-7, 2013, Leipzig, Germany will host 1,127 participants from 49 countries to compete in one of 45 skills.
The skills range from bricklaying, to floristry and mobile robotics.
Malloch, 21, says there are gold, silver and bronze medals, similar to the Olympics.
But more than one competitor can win each medal.
There are 16 carpentry competitors going to Germany, and Cody is representing Canada said Algonquin carpentry professor and Malloch’s coach, Michael Nauth.
WorldSkills International’s website shows that Malloch will compete against teams from Europe, Australia, Japan and Korea.
“I was picked from classmates in shop,” said Malloch on how he got into competitive carpentry. “I didn’t know about the skills competitions until school. I was shocked in Edmonton by how big it was.”
So far Malloch travelled a tough competition circuit to qualify for the WorldSkills International Competition.
“[Malloch] won provincials and then came in second at the nationals,” added Nauth. But the winner of nationals was too old to qualify for the international competition.
“Before all this I had only been to Chicago. All of a sudden I’m travelling all over the place, to Waterloo, Edmonton, and then off to Germany,” said Malloch.
The competition does not start until July 2013, but Malloch is already training intensely. He finds time outside his work schedule to train at the college`s carpentry shop once a week and also trains at home.
“The competitors train for an average of 40 hours per week leading up to the WorldSkills competition,” said Skills Canada’s communications and event coordinator, Michèle Rogerson.
Malloch trains with help from “unofficial expert” and carpentry professor, Dan Brigham. Brigham measured out a work space and built a work bench identical to the one Malloch will use in Leipzig.
“It’s been a learning process for the both of us,” said Malloch. “Everything in the competition works in the metric system and I’m used to using the imperial system every day. Dan bought a lot of books and translated them into English.”
In addition to translating foreign carpentry texts, Brigham also custom built tools for Malloch. He went into the metal shop after observing what other international competitors were using and made weights, specialty rulers and a pivoting vice that can turn on any angle.
Brigham and Malloch are now recreating the design from the last WorldSkills International competition in London, 2011. Taking every degree into consideration, they laid out a 2D frame with pencils and protractors onto a wooden base.
As the pencil layout turns into a complex web it is clear this is not a standard carpentry project.
Malloch says it is important to get the layout right before cutting.
“The judging is very precise. The cuts have to be perfect. You can’t be off by the width of a credit card.”
Malloch is learning to use very fine hand tools to create intricate joints.
This gives the impression the project is made of one piece of bent wood.
While these trips, competitions and tools are not cheap, Malloch is sponsored by Algonquin, Skills Canada and some commercial sponsors.
“WorldSkills Team Canada Competitors often receive funding from government and industry partners for their preparation leading up to the Competition,” said Rogerson.
“I take pride in this work,” said Malloch. “My dad’s a carpenter so I’ve been around it my whole life. Hopefully I can finish up my carpentry apprenticeship and get my certificate.”