The Sunnyside WOODWORKERS….

Story by Don Oxley, photos by Mary Rouse

Sunnyside woodworkers have been renovating their own habitat.  Led by Don Wait, Len Tulio and George Gibbs, the Sunnyside Woodworkers (12 claim that identity) have been cleaning and renovating the Sunnyside Woodshop.

After many years of good service, the shop (located under the Marketplace Grill) was showing its age.  A lot of the equipment was not working and in need of repair.  The woodworking team has been busy repairing the drill presses, significantly repairing the radial arm saw, adjusting the joiner, putting new blades on the band saw, leveling the table saw – just to mention the big pieces of equipment.  They have also been organizing and repairing a wide variety of hand tools – both manual and electric.

They’ve held multiple clean-up days beginning with discarding two full dumpster carts or more of accumulated junk.  Don Wait is working on a redesign of the entire space to make it more useful and effective.  Being well organized as they are, they even have a clear plan for their work:

Short Term Priorities

  1. Improve safety and shop procedures
  2. Continue cleanup and declutter
  3. Move most equipment off benches to tool stands
  4. Institute dust collection on all equipment

Longer Term Priorities

  1. Replace benches
  2. Central dust collection
  3. Paint the area
  4. Add equipment (i.e., jointer, air cleaner, surface sander)
  5. Task lighting

When they complete the effort, they want to invite people to visit (consistent with COVID restrictions) and see the results.

They are also looking to make the shop more supportive of all residents, not just the woodworkers.  They are continuing their annual Christmas cradle project, though they are expanding the variety and styles.   They have held the first ‘Open Fixit’ day for residents to bring items in need of repair to be worked on.  They also undertake build-from-scratch projects. 

The plan is to make repair days a regular occurrence, but in the meantime if you have an item in need of a bit of TLC, contact Don to discuss.

On another topic, they are strongly emphasizing safety.  Like the shop itself, some of the safety practices were falling into “disrepair”.   Don, Len, and George are happy to assist anyone using the shop who may need a bit of assistance in using some of the tools.  Anyone wishing to use the shop must demonstrate familiarity with any tool they want to use.  The critical rule, however, is NEVER WORK ALONE.  The person with you need not be another woodworker, but someone must be with you in the shop.  If you can’t find someone, Don, Len, or George would be happy to assist.

And yet another topic, the woodworkers have acquired several thousand dollars’ worth of black walnut.  Remember the derecho of two years ago that took down some big trees on campus?  They included some big black walnut trees.  The trees were taken away and cut into some very nice lumber.  The woodworkers have a substantial supply which they hope to use for resident projects along with possibly selling some of it for the benefit of Sunnyside.  More details on the plan will be forthcoming.

As Len says, “Do yourself a favor.  Call Don (x8932), Len (x8365), or George (x8465), for a personal tour of the shop.  Bring a friend.  It will cost you nothing but time, and time is what we have!”