Mentor Program at the Woodshop

Joni Matthiessen

At our February meeting we were told that our membership was up to 174 members. We have never seen membership that high this early in the year. At the rate our community is growing, we most likely will have the biggest membership this year we have ever had. As encouraging as this is, it did bring up several issues that needed to be addressed. Most people who join the woodshop have some background in using the various machines and knowledge of safety issues. But then, there are people who haven’t ever had any training but really want to learn. Our board has decided to implement a mentor system to help newcomers who need a helping hand. Depending on what a person wants to create, someone experienced in that type of project will step alongside our newer members to walk them through the process until they are comfortable to work on their own. This is a great plan for us to implement during this growth spurt, as many will benefit from those with experience who willingly take the time to help.

Right after the meeting, an opportunity arose to do just that. New member Fawn White has experience working in a woodshop, so we didn’t have to spend any time prepping to get wood ready, as she already knew those procedures. Fawn had seen some bowls in our display window and wanted to make one but needed help on our Ring Master machine. She looked at some bowls being worked on at various stages of completion to get an idea of the process, then she went to work. As happens sometimes, there were a few bumps along the way. One of the rings she was cutting on our Ring Master machine shattered, and we had to spend some time finding all the pieces. We did find all of them (even the piece that went in the vacuum hose!) and were able to glue the ring back together. If you didn’t know the ring had broken, you wouldn’t know now that it’s all glued back together. Sometimes you need that kind of thing to happen, so you know what to do to fix it. At this time, Fawn hasn’t finished her project, as she is still sanding her bowl and has yet to put a finish on it, but it will turn out beautiful.

So, even though the mentor program hasn’t “officially” started yet, if you have seen something here and would like to try to learn how to make it, stop by the woodshop in the CATC building and let’s talk. We can set you up with an expert on whatever it is you would like to learn how to do. We have several people with a lot of experience, and a great mentor will be available to teach you what you will need to know. People like me, with no shop experience have found great joy working here, and I tell people all the time that playing in sawdust at the shop is the best place to play here at the Ranch!