Get to know a pro: Ryan Shervill

We sat down with contributing editor Ryan Shervill to learn more about our pro

By Lora Kee

Ryan Shervill

Photo by Roger Yip

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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.

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