If you are serious about taking your woodworking to the next level, I highly recommend that you get involved with a local woodworking guild. When I was first starting out as a furniture maker, back when I lived in Vancouver, Washington, I joined the Guild of Oregon Woodworkers based in Portland, right across the Columbia River from us. There, I found a wealth of information, training, support and encouragement, in addition to the camaraderie of a big group of like-minded individuals.
Several of my students here at CSFW are guild members where they live and have really enjoyed showing their work off there when they get back from their time here. In fact, one of my former students, Randy Owen from Sacramento, has become a bit of a local woodworking celebrity in his guild. He loaned us the gorgeous koa wood rocking chair he built at our school to display in our booth at The Woodworking Show in Sacramento in November and a number of members of the Sacramento Area Woodworkers guild came to our booth, not to talk to us, but to see Randy's chair. It was really fun.
When we were in Denver last month, we met a bunch of the folks from the Colorado Woodworkers Guild. They were a fun and active group of folks representing a wide variety of woodworking styles and all seemed to really enjoy one another's company. We were impressed also, by this Colorado group, because of their emphasis on attracting younger members to their ranks. Although the members representing them there represented a broad spectrum of ages, their newly elected president is in his 20's! That's great! He is doing a great job updating their image and keeping them fresh and up-to-date. Thanks for the t-shirt and coffee mugs, Colorado! I am making good use of them.
For those of you that prefer to live in the digital community, there is even a guild of woodworkers on-line! Check out the Wood Whisperer Guild for a great community of woodworkers who enjoy podcasts and online demonstration videos and encourage one another with lots of practical advice and support as they build their projects at their homes all over the country and all over the world. It's a great option if you live your life 'plugged in.'
What about you? We'd love to hear about your local guild. Drop us a line some time and let us know about guilds that deserve a word of mention here. Oh, and one more thing, I am always up for teaching seminars and classes for guilds across the country. Let me know if you are interested in more information about that.