Welcome to the Woodcraft Guild of the ACT. The Guild is a not-for-profit community based organisation and has been a part of the Canberra woodcraft and art scene for decades and is one of the oldest woodworking clubs in Australia. Our membership of around 500 people is drawn from the diverse Canberra community and local region.
The Guild is organised around 18 or so Special Interest Groups (SIGs) including Woodturning, Toy Making, Furniture, Pyrography, Carving, Scroll saw, Musical Instrument, Box Making, Blacksmithing and tool restoration.
The Shed is open on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10am to 3pm. The calendar on the Guild website shows what is happening during the day, the evenings and over the weekends. You can also keep up to date by using the Guild’s Facebook sites and Instagram.
Members can join any of the SIGs to enhance their skills and to explore new facets of woodwork. Members can utilise the Guild’s facilities and tools whenever the shed is open. Our experienced members are happy to help members starting out and those needing advice on a particular project. Members can purchase timber at Guild prices which provides great value.
SIG leaders, Committee members, Shed Bosses and members looking after maintenance, timber reclamation, exhibitions, training courses, community work and sales activities are all volunteers. As the Guild membership grows, so does the work needed to keep it all working. Please contact me if you are interested in helping out. There is plenty to do.
We have completed a large expansion to our Workshop located at Lions Youth haven on Kambah Pool Road that now gives us separate rooms for woodturning, machinery, workbenches, a forge and a kitchen area for a relaxation and conversation. The recent addition of a modern dust extraction system has enhanced the woodworking environment well.
The Guild places a high priority on safety. Accreditation ensures members have the knowledge to operate machinery safely. Our introduction to woodworking and woodturning groups provide skills to those starting out. The Guild maintains buildings, contents and public liability insurance.
The Guild is taking action to provide a COVID-safe environment. We do want members to enjoy their time at the shed safely.
Every year we elect a new Committee. We encourage you to put your name forward for one of the Committee positions. It’s a great way to meet people and to get involved. Longer term members should put their names forward to assist SIG leaders in enhancing SIG development.
Come and enjoy yourself at the Shed.
As an Incorporated Association, the Guild is required to have a formal set of Objects and Rules.
The Woodcraft Guild is entering its 10th year with a highly successful Student Woodworking Program. This program has evolved over the years to specifically cater for high school students who may have a range of difficulties or special needs coping in the normal classroom environment. Students work closely with experienced Guild Mentors on individual and group projects in a safe, enjoyable and productive environment. Consistent feedback from the schools has proven the program’s effectiveness with improved student performance.
John Armstrong Guild Service Award
The purpose of this award is to recognise a Guild member who has made a significant and long term contribution to the achievement of Guild objectives through their service to the Guild. This service should be in at least two distinctly different areas (e.g. as a officeholder, working on a major Guild project, leadership in a SIG, coordinator of specific events and contributing to Working Bees, over more than three years, or for other substantial and sustained Guild service at the discretion of the Committee. The member has demonstrated through his/her character to be diligent, skilful and selfless in their service to the Guild.
This award is in memory of John Armstrong. John was a quiet achiever in the Guild over many years. He was a woodcarver who led the Carving SIG; a helper with working bees in the Shed; and an electrical engineer who both advised the Guild on its electrical issues, and tested and tagged our electrical equipment for use in the Shed and at public events. He wrote a series of articles on electrical matters, and on numerous other topics, published in Shed Notes, and won awards for his woodcraft skills. Following John’s death in September 2013, the Guild Committee decided to establish this Award in his honour.
The Award will be presented annually as perpetual trophy to a current Guild Member who is adjudged by the Guild Committee to be deserving of special recognition. This trophy will be inscribed with that Member’s name and the year, and held in trust by the recipient until the next recipient is announced. At the Committee’s discretion, it may not be presented every year.
The Award trophy will consist of a carving by John Armstrong as its major feature and be of a distinctive design and of sufficient size to be capable of holding the names of recipients over many years.
Whilst Brendan has made several vociferous and maybe controversial contributions to the discussion concerning Dust Extraction, he took on the project management for installation after the contract was awarded earlier this year. Since then he has steered installation with others to a functionality that has transformed the machine workshop at the Guild.
Brendan has championed with others the development of the Smithy/forge to deliver a welding capability that has been vital to the installation of the DE system. His energy and enthusiasm in making and teaching welding continues to be a vital service to the Guild objectives.
Brendan has developed the sawmill capability of the Guild and has continued to lead sawmilling practice to as high degree. In addition, he has grown the air and drying capabilities of the Guild to ensure a constant supply of quality timbers to the Guild membership. He leads the Sawmilling SIG.
Brendan has served as President of the Guild as well as participating in ongoing skills, protocol, and service development within the Guild. He spends many days a week in the shed and grows an ever increasing ‘to do’ list on our behalf. Whilst Brendan may be controversial, he has the stability, effectiveness and efficiency of the Guild at heart and is a vital member of our woodcraft community.
Ray Halpin was awarded the John Armstrong Award for his past and ongoing contributions to the life of the Guild. Ray has been a stalwart member of the Guild for many years and has served in many roles. He has been WCG Secretary and provided a steady stable hand to presidents and other committee members. In 2021 he steered steering our lease renewal negotiations with the Lions Club.
He is a fine woodworker and furniture maker. In the box making field he has successfully led the Zoom (video) box making sessions over 2 years involving many who were unable to attend the shed during COVID shut down. He is an integral part of the Timber Team – milling and preparing timber for sale and storage and can be seen around the shed on many days of the week.
Harry is a regular contributor to the guilds activities. He is always amongst the volunteers in doing the maintenance around the shed, and improving our faculties whenever the opportunity arises.
As the SIG leader of the Monday night beginner’s program he has documented and supplied materials for a comprehensive range of suitable “beginner level” projects, which allow our beginners to fabricate valuable tools that will not only last them many years but give them confidence to extend their skills in a sensible and measured way. As the Monday night session is front door for the guild, Harry’s patience and persistence as an outstanding ambassador of the guild is irreplaceable. Harry organises the more experienced guild volunteers and organises all aspects of the program, including hours of acquiring and preparing the material to construct the beginner projects, as well as mentoring and encouraging the beginner level members in developing their skills and confidence.
Harry also contributes extensively as an assessor in our accreditation program. He is very active in ensuring all new members have a comprehensive understanding of the use of nearly every piece of guild jigs and equipment so that they are able to safely operate that equipment. Harry embodies the values we aspire to in the guild.
Harry is now also our “Groundsman”. He spends many additional hours manicuring the grounds and lawns, and maintaining the lawn mower.
Dan has made a substantial and ongoing contribution to the work of the Guild over many years.
He has held a range of positions on the Guild Committee including serving as the Guild President. He is the Guild’s public officer.
Dan led the Guild’s sales SIG for years providing opportunities for members to sell their work and make a significant financial contribution to the Guild. He has been instrumental in guiding the Guild’s participation in sales event at the Folk Festival, Canberra Show, Kingston Markets and at South.Point.
He has served as a trainer in the in the Woodturning SIGs passing on turning skills to new turners and supporting the growing cohort of turners at the Guild.
Dan is an active Guild member and has made a long term contribution to the achievement of the Guild objectives and to its social fabric.
He is highly regarded by members for his selfless and diligent contribution to the Guild.
Phil’s contribution to the guild has been invaluable. As the leader of the School’s program he is an outstanding representative of the guild. Phil mentors and guides students developing their skills and confidence enabling them to gain a real sense of achievement. Phil liaises with the School administration, corrals the guild member volunteers and organises all aspects of the program. Over the years Phil has been involved in the program he has provided dozens of children the opportunity to succeed and to develop their skills.
Phil also contributes as an assessor in our accreditation program. He is proactive in ensuring new members have a comprehensive understanding of the use of guild equipment so that they are able to safely operate that equipment. Many of the jigs in the machine room have been built by Phil to enable the safest possible operation of the machinery.
Phil embodies the values we aspire to in the guild.
Ian has had a long and distinguished involvement with the Woodcraft Guild ACT. He has been an active participant and leader in Scroll and Intarsia as well as toys and models. His efforts in general maintenance and other projects around the Guild are exemplary. He has participated in several working bees as well as workshops quietly delivering in the background without great fanfare.
Over the last 18 months Ian has undertaken the role of project manager for the Guild rebuild and expansion program. This has been a labour of love where construction leadership was desperately needed. His quiet insistence on quality over rush has meant that the standard of work undertaken in this process has been brilliant. He has closely supervised all who have been helping and as made us all recognise that the final responsibility for the construction work has been his. While we perhaps glibly reflect a little frustration with his sometimes pedantic approach we all realise that the results are excellent and will stand the Guild in good stead for many years to come.
Ian has spent almost every day at the shed for more than a year – rain, sun, snow and hail. His diligence, selflessness and skill have all been essential in making this project work and we are all indebted to his commitment and enthusiasm.
Gai Simpson has contributed to the Guild over many years in so many ways:
- She has been a committee member for years … until this year
- She is the SIG Coordinator for the Miniatures and Mandrels SIG
- An Active member of the Pyrography SIG … AND the Saturday Turning SIG and the Monday turning SIG
- Gai is so involved with the Basic Woodworking SIG that she is effectively the Deputy SIG Coordinator
- Gai supports the Toy SIG, making toys for charity
- Gai is a very active Woodcraft Seller, making novelty items for each different Sales event, like scroll saw reindeers and Christmas Trees for
the Christmas Bus Depot Markets. And Pens for every sales event
- She teaches anyone who needs some help and always with a smile and a positive word of advice
- She volunteers at nearly every public event at which the Guild participates. She’ll be there to help set up, to demonstrate, to sell
woodcraft and then take down the Guild’s gear.
- She participates at the Community Arts Program at the annual National Folk Festival – assisting children to assemble a wooden kit to take home.
Gai Simpson is a delight to have in the Guild. She is a quiet achiever who is keen to try everything and improve all of her woodcraft skills. We wish to encourage her to continue doing ALL those things that support our thriving community organisation.
Gai is a fine example of why the Guild does NOT wish to be a MENS SHED.
Bill Hodgetts is one member who has given a range of contributions to the Guild and continues to do so despite his serious health issues over the past several years. In summary, these include:
Bill is a long serving member of the NSW SES, including being one of a few qualified to teaching the safe and effective use of a chainsaw. He has conducted a couple of two day courses (at no cost) which provided participants with both extensive notes
on safety as well as long hours using a chainsaw and learning the several basic cuts.
PREPARING WOOD FOR SALE
Bill over an extended period did chain sawing of logs to help in the preparation of wood for sale (until his back problems have now prevented him from using a chainsaw). He participated in the collection of a large supply of Oak and Osage Orange from a Braidwood property some years ago.
COORDINATING GUILD EVENTS
For several years Bill has taken the lead in coordinating our participation in the following events:
- National Folk Festival
- Canberra Show
- Home and Leisure Show
- TWW & Exhibition (in 2015)
- Old Bus Depot Markets
His role in the NFF includes negotiating with the event organizers the Guild contribution to the Community Activities Program, the provision of the NFF trophies, and support for participants in the NFF (e.g. instrument repairs). He also liaises with the DNCAS on the H&L Show as well as the Royal Canberra Show. He prepares the roster for all the events and arranges for volunteer tickets and show set up and tear-down logistics
Bill’s donation and cooking of fresh fish for the breaded fish appetizers has become a popular start to our annual Christmas BBQ
BILL’S WALKING STICKS
These have become legendary. Bill has developed skills in fine stick making and bespoke service in unique and quality sticks, crooks and wands.
Bill has given many hours to support the Guild and often this is at home and in meetings that Members never see. He has been a quiet achiever which, we believe, deserves recognition from the Membership.
Owen is one of the “unsung heroes” of the Guild, in that his extensive contributions to the smooth functioning of the organization are rarely seen, or appreciated, by ordinary members.
Owen has served for a number of years as the Guild’s “Quartermaster”, taking responsibility for regularly checking and replenishing stocks of Shed consumables, including milk, tea, coffee, biscuits, soft drinks, light beer, paper towels, toilet paper, garbage bags and cleaning products. The majority of members expect to readily find and use these products as an integral part of their “Shed experience”, but are unaware of Owen’s dedicated service in making sure they are always available, especially for monthly Guild meeting nights.
Furthermore, aided by his wife Margaret, Owen has for many years organized the logistics of the Guild’s Annual Christmas BBQ, providing not only the basic comestibles, but also the crockery, cutlery and table settings, transforming the Shed into a welcoming party venue. Similarly, he has provided refreshments for members engaged in Guild community activities, such as the National Folk Festival, Timber & Working with Wood Show,
Home & Leisure Show, and the Royal Canberra Show.
Owen has served with distinction as Coordinator of the Toy SIG, and has been the driving force behind the SIG’s production and assembly of what must by now be thousands of toys annually donated to charity. He has taken annual responsibility for the organization of the Guild’s fund-raising stand at the Marymead charity fete. Owen has personally produced hundreds of kit toys for children to assemble in the National Folk Festival’s Community Arts Program (a major factor in the Guild receiving space at the NFF at little or no cost).
As a Guild Committee member, Owen has also been responsible for organizing the Guild’s annual Calendar, and ensuring that the days and times for open days, SIG meetings, Guild meetings, workshops and courses are recorded in the Shed Attendance Book. Related to this, he acts as the Guild “doorman” at monthly meetings, collecting member contributions on entry and issuing door-prize tickets, as well as ensuring the regular supply of those prizes for members’ enjoyment.
Owen and Margaret are soon relocating their primary home, and his workshop, to the South Coast, though he will continue as a Guild Member and to support many Guild activities. In the New Year a number of his current support activities will be passed to other Guild Members.
Owen has given years of dedicated service as a member of the Guild Committee, and his quiet, but well-considered, counsel is always valued highly by his colleagues. His unassuming and self-effacing character is such that he will probably be embarrassed by this Award, but in every way, Owen is the epitome of someone who is “diligent, skilful and selfless” in their vital service to the Guild. I cannot think of anyone more deserving as the recipient of the John Armstrong Service Award, and I am confident John would have heartily agreed.
Rod Tier has served the Guild fo r a long time and in many roles. He has supported the Guild through leadership as an office holder and Committee Member continuously for some many years we can’t be sure when he first joined the Committee. He has served our Guild as:
- Public Officer
- Turning SIG coordinator
- Event Coordinator Working Bees at the Shed
- Trainer for Turning courses
- Editor of our Newsletter
- Mentor for everyone who wishes to improve their skills