Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Women's Woodworking Club

The club, which was started a year and a half ago, has grown to over 20 members. 8 to 10 usually show up for our monthly meetings, where we do as many hands-on projects as possible.

Most of these women are brand new to woodworking—some are retired, with grown children—and all are enthusiastic to learn. The enthusiasm can be gauged in the sheer volume of exhuberant chatter that goes on during our meetings.

Regarding woodworking (and probably most things), all that women seem to need is a little encouragement & patience, and they will dive right in. Tonight, we worked on part 2 of our current project—cutting boards—in the Woodcraft Store shop where we meet. During the course of the 3-part project, they are learning how to use the jointer, planer, and miter saw. Next time, we'll have a router workshop, when we'll round over all the cutting boards and test drive different types of routers and bits.

We decide at each meeting, as a group, what the next topic will be. There are no dues, no officers, no business to attend to. We sit at a table, facing one another. All of the women have ownership. It's very different from what I call the "boys' club"—the other woodworking club to which I belong. Up until last year, I was the only female member.

In the boys' club, the guys seem to prefer hierarchy and structured meetings. We have officers, dues, and an annual business meeting. There are too many guys in that club (and too small a space) to do much hands-on stuff, so we mainly have a demo or lecture. Members sit in rows of chairs and face the presenter. The volume of these meetings is also different. Pretty quiet, except for the speaker, and the occasional wisecrack. The guys chat with one another prior to and after the meeting, but not so much during.

The other very important difference in the two clubs: the women's club usually has snacks. This past year in the boys' club, when the Christmas party was discussed, the guys opted to not have one. Conversely, the women all but leapt out of their seats with a resounding "YES!" when I asked if we wanted to have a club Christmas dinner.

And you wouldn't believe what they brought. Crab cakes, homemade lasagna, homemade meatballs (made by one woman's husband, which cracked us up), salads, and desserts like you'd find at Wegman's.

It's great fun to be an observer in both clubs. Despite their differences, there is one common thread between the two clubs: they both consist of people who want to create something—something useful, something artistic, something challenging. Something that will leave a lasting mark.