Saturday, August 24, 2013


Before I explain, I need to make clear that, despite the similarity in name, this blog and I have no connection to the Guild of Oregon Woodworkers other than the fact that I am joining it.

It has been impossible for me to participate in the Guild because I lived 250 miles from Portland where it is based, but I have attended meetings a few times and participated in its annual show.  It is a large, very active group of professional and amateur members of all skill levels that has an educational program, engages in regular charitable activities, has meetings with fascinating speakers, and gives members substantial discounts on woodworking tools and supplies.  The Guild is one of the major reasons we decided to relocate to Portland for retirement.

Recently, the Guild has undertaken a new initiative:  the operation of a Guild shop. They have leased a high-end custom cabinet shop that ceased operation.  To use the shop, you must complete training, pass a test and then sign-up for an available 4 hour time slot in three shifts between 9 am and 9 pm.  A shop steward is always on duty or the time slot is not available.  I attended the training this week and when I entered the shop for the first time, my jaw dropped.  There is a large bench room that is bright and well lit and includes several hand tool benches.  The machine room is very large and includes dust collection for every machine.  The machines are unlike anything I have ever seen in person:  a 7.5 horsepower, 220 volt, 3 phase, Sawstop table saw, a 16" jointer 8' long, a 20" planer with automatic depth adjustment, a 4' wide belt sander, a huge Felder resaw bandsaw as well as an 18" bandsaw . . .   This is heavy iron.

It may seem incongruous that someone like me committed to hand tools is so excited about this massive machinery but I will tell you why.  Having these machines available will allow me to accelerate removal of machines from my home shop as well as giving me fantastic choices when I do want to use a machine.  The fact that the machines will be 10 miles away is a plus as I am lazy and succumb if machines are too readily at hand.  The camaraderie will be welcome and a helping hand will be available when necessary.

Hats off to all the volunteers who made this dream a reality.  Read more about the guild here and the shop here.

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