Sunday, April 28, 2013

GWA Field Trip to the Greenville Woodworkers Guild Shop

On March 9, 2013 my woodworking club, the Gwinnett Woodworkers Association (GWA) embarked on a field trip and shop visit to Greenville, South Carolina. I was very excited to visit this very large club (over 500 active members) as I had heard much about the shop (they own their own building!) and auditorium(!) where they held demonstrations and classes.


We had so much interest that we decided to charter a bus - with everyone chipping in to cover the fuel costs.


As we pulled up to the building you see a series of storefronts with a warehouse extension to the rear - quite massive. Turns out that the building was originally designed to house multiple stores, the busiest sold Christmas ornaments until shortly before the building was acquired by the club. There's also an additional building out back to hold excess lumber (!)...


This is the shot of the extensive paper library, with books and periodicals in abundance. They also have DVD copies of their classrooms in a separate library. Materials can be reviewed on premises only.


We filed into a large conference room where members of GWG went through various aspects of the club. President Buzz Sprinkle did the introduction,  Aubrey Rogers and John Roberts provided some history that lead to the current size of the club and the club's involvement in community projects. Wayne Comstock covered the events leading to the current Education Center work. We then began the tour...




The entry to the club is actually on the side and not through the storefront fa├žade. There are examples of work (see the table below) done by club members as well as lists of organizations that the club works with and call-outs to past contributors.





You exit the entry and enter the shop through double doors at the end of the hall - but along the way...


 You pass one of several classrooms - this one features lathes setup for turning classes...




The shop itself is quite massive - I tried to get most of it in this shot, but without a wide-angle lens I'm not sure if that's possible.


There's a fairly large lumber room with good, furniture quality lumber available for club members. This is also one source of income for the club (the prices were quite good).



Along the back wall of the club is these RAS and panel saw setups...


They have some fairly nice equipment, like these two Oliver machines. The club likes to purchase equipment that's rather significant with the idea that it could supply equipment that most homeowners wouldn't have in their home shops. Most members use what they need in the shop then finish up at home. Great idea I think, especially in lumber preparation...


There's also a dedicated First Aid station, complete with defibrillator (the shop overseers are all trained in the use of the latter). Also I should mention that you have to go through a bit of safety training before you can use any equipment, then be checked out on each machine - they keep very good records before allowing anyone to use the equipment.


I really liked this large miter station...


And of course they have some great dust collection - note that even with people using the equipment that there is little dust...


Dovetail station tucked behind a wall...


Wide-belt time saver...


A couple of bandsaws (hi Gary!)...


And a couple of REAL bandsaws...


There were several dedicated lathe stations...


Close up of the Yates American Bandsaw tag...



Note the Navy shipyard tag still accounted for on this Yates bandsaw...


Scroll Saw and Overhead router stations...


Blum hinge cutting station..


Floor standing mortiser...


Assembly tables...


Sharpening station...


Pipe and Bessey clamp racks...

 
 I really liked the kids room - they do simplified classes for children to promote woodworking...


 My favorite room overall was the handtool room - it was full of workbenches in various states of completion as part of a class...




Hold-down Fasts...



Entering the auditorium - lunch was provided...


I believe they said they could seat 300...



And they have had some significant guests at the guild...




Before leaving we had a summary session and learned a few things about club management. The review was lead by current president Buzz Sprinkle. We also discussed the process and advantages of becoming a 501 (c)(3) corp. Wayne Comstock discussed the various club activities (picnics, holiday parties, etc.). And finally, the shop and library operations were explained by Mac Bowman.



I hope you enjoyed the images as much as I did taking them...

-- John