Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 3, Issue 3
January 2009
Extreme Woodworking

When I mention the words extreme woodworking, you might think of some innovative technique or unconventional style. But in this case, it refers to woodworking that's happening at one of the world's coldest, driest and most desolate locations.

In Antarctica, there is a great deal of woodworking going on in support of the scientific research occurring in this icy wilderness. According to Frank Howell, an information technology designer for the Raytheon Polar Services Company and a hobby woodworker who has completed several tours in Antarctica, each of the three American Antarctic year-round research stations is equipped with a woodworking shop.
  Palmer Station
Palmer Station, located on Anvers Island off the Antarctica Peninsula

McMurdo Station is Antarctica's largest permanently occupied community. It's located on the southern tip of Ross Island and is built on bare volcanic rock. It has a well-appointed 4,300-square-foot wood shop. "Most of their stationary tools came from the navy, the pioneers of the U.S. Antarctic program, and date back to the mid '50s. Huge 14" table saws, band saws and drill presses fill the room. They are set up to build anything from fishing huts on skis, to complete buildings, to small boxes for carrying batteries."
The Amundsen-Scott base is located at the geographic South Pole and stands on Antarctica's near-featureless ice sheet. The station drifts with the ice sheet at about 33 feet (10 meters) per year. It boasts two carpentry shops. The first is located in the Garage Arch—a metal building almost completely buried in snow—and is available for work all year. A summer shop is set up in a Jamesway, a tent-like structure located near the base.

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