Thursday, May 27, 2010

Starting a Woodworking Club

A few people have written me asking for advice on starting a woodworking club. While I don't have a magic formula, I do belong to three clubs—the Susquehanna Area Woodworkers of PA (SAW-PA, website coming soon), the Susquehanna Trails Woodworking Guild (STWG), and the Women's Woodworking Club of Harrisburg (WWC).

Please offer your own advice/ideas regarding what works well for your club so that others can benefit.

Some questions from Michael H.: How is it structured? How often do you meet? What do your meetings look like? What kind of things have you found to be successful?

SAW-PA: I'm a founding member of this one. We meet once a month for about two hours, start the meeting with business and upcoming events, followed by show-and-tell, then our main topic. We have a president, vice president, treasurer, and planning team, which meet on occasion to brainstorm ideas for future meetings/events. Many of our topics are presented by members, but we have paid speakers a couple times a year. There are formal by-laws, which are commonly ignored. We take Saturday field trips a few times a year to workshops, ww businesses, and lumberyards, usually followed by a meal at a restaurant. Dues are $25/year. Usually about 20 in attendance at meetings.

What works for this group: friendly, laid-back atmosphere, small meeting room (cozy). Field trips give us an opportunity to chat/bond outside of meetings.

STWG: I don't know as much about this club, but it meets once a month for about 2 hours and is structured in a similar fashion to SAW-PA, regarding order of meetings and officers. They often have outside, paid speakers and a larger member base which can afford them. They get involved in some community events and shows where they have an informational booth to promote the club. The meeting room is very large, so it seems more formal, but it provides lots of room for demos and show-and-tell tables. This group has a 50/50 raffle each meeting and a video and book library which (I think) is free for members. Dues are $25/year. Usually about 30 in attendance for meetings.

What works for this group: more money and more connections/resources for outside speakers, website, more perks for members.

WWC: This one is totally different from the "boys" clubs. Eight or so women meet once a month for about an hour and a half to discuss projects. About half our meetings include something hands-on, and sometimes we meet at a member's shop to build something. There is no structure; everyone has ownership. We usually sit around a table or circle, and there is an inordinate amount of jocularity and raucous laughter. On a rare occasion we have an outside speaker, preferring instead to rely on each other as teachers. There are no dues and no perks. But there is lots of bonding.

What work for this group: casual "structure", lots of opportunity for camaraderie, ease of operation.

Your turn!