In End Grain

We may receive a commission when you use our affiliate links. However, this does not impact our recommendations.

Find woodworking education, fellowship, and shop space at a woodworking guild near you. 

I am an avid woodworker. Let me rephrase that. I am an avid woodworker with a chronic disease. I’m not an expert woodworker; I’m average, at best. But I put my best into every project. You see I have Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and it makes things difficult and painful.

I know what you’re thinking, “I’ve got some arthritis, what’s the big deal?” It’s not the same thing. RA is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation. The white blood cells in my body attack my joints and this leads to joint destruction. This causes my hands to be crooked and deformed. Pain and I are old friends. Even with this disease, I have continued to strive to become the best woodworker I can be.

Over the years I’ve taken classes from some excellent woodworkers like Christopher Schwarz, Freddie Roman, Ben Hobbs, and Mike Pekovich. I always try to remember as much from these classes as possible. Sometimes I will write about it, whatever it takes to retain the knowledge that was imparted on me by these great woodworkers.

About 17 years ago, I discovered the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild. The group’s mission statement really got my attention: “The purpose of the Kansas City Woodworkers’ Guild’ is to promote the skill and craft of woodworking, to provide education, information, fellowship, and organization to those interested in working with wood. ” (From the Bylaws)

Promote the skill and craft of woodworking and to provide education says it all to me. I knew I had to be a part of this group. When I joined, membership was around 80 to 100 and met in a small church basement. Fast forward twelve years and our membership is around 850 and we meet in our 10,000 square foot shop. There is something going on in the shop every day of the week. There are classes, Special Interest Groups (SIGs), and of course, Open Shop times. We have five SawStop saws, an 8 and 16 jointer, 3 drum sanders, a CNC, a laser engraver, and much more. And best of all, it is run as a total volunteer organization.

The classes are the part that I’m most proud of. While I have spent time in several leadership positions, my current position is my favorite. I am the Director of Training. The “Provide Education” part of the mission statement is very important to me, and as such I’ve tried to share what I’ve learned through the years.

Thursday evening, the Guild Shop is the place to be, as our most popular classes happen on Thursday evening; Basic Woodworking, Intermediate Woodworking, and Basics of Hand Tool Woodworking. Over the past several years, many new woodworkers have learned the basics of the craft and have shared it with others. We always recruit new instructors from these classes.

Each of these classes last ten evenings and each work on specific skills. The Basic Woodworking class consists of three projects and each project teaches a new skill. By the last class all skills are used on the project. 

The Intermediate Woodworking class builds two projects, starting with rough lumber and deciding where to cut parts from.

The Basics of Hand Tool woodworking class has become a favorite. Students learn to cut with a handsaw (both crosscut and rip), making dadoes, rabbets, mortises and tenons all by hand. All of these skills culminate in building a Shaker-inspired bench. The last thing students learn is hand-cut dovetails. These classes have become the basis of our growing membership along with use of the shop. One of the volunteers that instructs during this class is Kenan Orhan  (Popular Woodworking Magazine contributing editor).

So you can see, there are ways to learn the craft of woodworking. Who knows? It may be right in your neighborhood. -Kevin Thomas

Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

Recommended Posts

Start typing and press Enter to search