Patrick Laperrière: Breaking rules to build bridges

You might know Patrick Laperrière as “PatLap” from the popular Netflix show “Making Fun”. With a long and knowledgeable background in woodworking, Patrick could have easily chosen a traditional route in carpentry. Instead, he wanted to focus on comedy, relatability, and accessibility. Now a full-time content creator, Patrick is bridging the gap between a traditional artform and a modern audience.

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Raised in his grandparents’ shop, Canadian Patrick “PatLap” Laperrière got an early introduction to woodworking to say the least. His granddad was a carpenter, and working side by side brought him a stable foundation, but building the same things over and over had him longing for more. Instead, he became a graphic designer and studied comedy in Montreal. With an approach that gears more towards “mad scientist” than “peaceful artisan”, it’s not about perfect angels or silky-smooth surfaces. For Patrick, it simply needs to be fun:

“I hate it when purists try to tell you that you can’t do something a certain way. I faced a lot of that when I first started woodturning. Just because someone does something one way doesn’t mean you can’t do it differently. As long as you have an idea of where you want to end up, the journey to get there is up to you. It’s all about having fun.”

It’s no secret that Patrick choses to do things in unconventional ways. He likes breaking rules and pushing boundaries, all in order to entertain and educate. Together with his friends they’re doing just that with the Emmy Award winning Netflix Show “Making Fun”. In the show, they build delightfully pointless inventions sent in by children. Adding entertainment-value to the traditional craft enables it to reach a new generation, making it more accessible:

“The show has encouraged so many young viewers to come into the creative world of woodworking and making in general. For the first time, kids are picking up tools and building things of their own. I think when you’re too serious, it scares people. I have nothing against serious woodworkers, it’s just not who I am. They watch the show and see me being silly and playful and it’s like, “If Pat can do it then so can I”. It makes me so proud; I didn’t expect that at all.”

Despite having a personality that’s larger than life, Patrick doesn’t consider himself to be a confident person. Comedy allows him to shine, and making people laugh brings him joy, but his emotions run deeper than so.

“I’m always questioning myself and doubting everything. Woodworking, and woodturning especially, helped me with that. It’s so relaxing and organic. When I’m turning wood, I’m in the moment. Everything else fades away.”

Having learned to live with anxiety, comedy and carpentry have been vents for him to both express creativity and find calm. He still has to work for his happiness, and keeps searching to find fun in everyday tasks, but is now accepting and embracing both sides of the coin:

“It’s all me. All of it. Both the laughs and the anxiety. I’ve learned to live with it, cope and manage. That wasn’t the case a couple of years ago. I was frustrated and didn’t know how to deal with it. But then I went to therapy, and once I had accepted the situation, I could start healing. Now I’m doing just fine, and if I can help someone by talking about it then I’m happy to do so.”

Through teaching he hopes to share not only the joy but the sanctuary he found in woodturning. Being able to go from A to Z with just one machine allows him to have his own small shop in his basement, and with the arrival of his new Elite 1500 workbench, he has all he needs for his woodwork bliss.

“I’m super happy because the workbench is the centerpiece of the shop. It’s so well built! Despite the small size it’s heavy enough to plane wood without moving and there’s no racking with the vises. I don’t need a giant shop; I just need a tiny space to be happy. Happiness is different for everyone, and it’s so important to do what makes you happy. Keep being yourself, no matter who you are. Pursue your paths, your dreams, your hopes, and ambitions. I know it sounds cheesy but it’s true. I took a leap of faith and now I get to do what I want whenever I want every single day, that’s incredible.”

Even though Patrick encourages people to get into woodworking, he sometimes worries that the accessibility can be both a gift and a curse:

“I think the advantage is social media and I think the disadvantage is social media. The DIY-movement is huge and that’s great but at the same time I see people doing some really unsafe things. They’re not educated well enough regarding woodworking, and I’d like them to know that yes you can have fun but being safe at the same time. Tools are sharp!”

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