Get to know a pro: Ryan Shervill
We sat down with contributing editor Ryan Shervill to learn more about our pro
Contributing editor Ryan Shervill is used to answering questions. He’s the source behind many of our Ask a Pro answers and frequently contributes projects and articles to Canadian Home Workshop. We sat down with our pro for a Q&A session to get to know the man behind the plans.
How did you get into woodworking?
Like a lot of people, I had my first exposure to woodworking in shop class. After high school, I pursued it as a serious hobby. Even as I went into the workforce, I still did what I could do to get into the shop, including renting time in a commercial shop.
How did you become a contributor with CHW?
Through a woodworking competition at the Canadian Home Workshop Show, years ago. The first year I attended I entered a project and won first place. The next year I entered into the advanced category and was awarded second place. At the judging I ended up speaking with CHW’s managing editor at the time, and she offered me the chance to try my hand at writing. Fast-forward almost a decade, and, as you can see, it kind of snowballed. As a contributing editor for CHW and a contributor/editor for seven or so other publications, this is pretty much all I do now…and it’s fantastic.
You do both home-renovation work and woodworking. Which do you like better?
That’s a tough question. I love everything about woodworking; creating and building original designs for our readers is kind of a combination of art and engineering, and I like that challenge. There’s something very “real” about working with wood, whether it’s the creative process or maybe how it somehow ties me to the past. I can’t put my finger on what exactly appeals to me on that level. Maybe it’s both.
The DIY thing is a fairly new venture for me, and I think the appeal is that it flips my experience level a full 180° from woodworking. Jumping into these projects with both feet and learning on the fly gives me an opportunity to pass on information to readers in real time, and on a different level. I’m not writing from the perspective of a pro telling people how to do something. It’s more like we’re learning together and I’m highlighting the key bits of knowledge.
There’s something very exciting about taking on a brand new challenge, and when it comes to DIY, there’s definitely no shortage of those!
Machine-made dovetails or handcut?
Both! I know there’s an age-old debate between both camps, but for me it comes down to using the method suitable for the project at hand. If I’m doing a project for a broad range of skill levels, I’ll use a jig. If it’s an advanced project or one that benefits from the artistic merit of a handcut joint, I’ll do them by hand.
What’s your favourite project of all time?
Oh boy, that’s like asking me to pick my favourite child! Honestly—and I know this sounds corny—every project I do is my favourite at the time. When I create projects for CHW, every project I do helps someone build something, and that’s what motivates me. I’m afraid I can’t be any more definitive when talking about projects outside of the magazine world either. Whether it’s sharing the craft by building a simple birdhouse with a child, or recreating someone’s long-lost family heirloom working from old photographs, there is a universal result: it makes someone happy, and that is the real pay-off for me.