Sun City West Woodworking Club History
The club was founded in 1979 under a charter of the SCW Recreation Centers and provided space in the R. H. Johnson Recreation Center (next to the pool and Bocce ball areas) and equipped with about $20,000 worth of basic tools by DEVCO, Del Webb’s development division The Club has grown from a small woodworking shop to a major attraction of Sun City West.
Currently the club has 850 members, led by a President and a board of nine members elected annually by the membership. The shop is totally volunteer operated, and committees have been formed to address issues such as equipment replacement, maintenance etc. The current “shop” is at Kuentz Recreation Center and occupies more than 6,000 sq. ft. of floor space, and boasts an inventory of floor equipment, hand tools and office equipment valued at more than $700,000.
Its purposes, as stated in its bylaws are to “…operate a Woodworking Club and Shop for the benefit and enjoyment of its members in the furtherance of woodworking skill and to promote fellowship among its members, all the while emphasizing safety in woodworking and in the operation and use of tools and powered machinery.” In its development, the Woodworking Club has far exceeded these purposes.
Harry Hawkins was the driving force in starting the club and Paul Runyon, its first president.
Harry Hawkins, inspired the club with a concept of community service and enlisted its early membership in building articles for other SCW organizations and residents. His “formula”? The requesting organizations paid for the materials required and the woodworking club contributed the skills and labor. Some of the beneficiaries of this policy are the SCW Sheriff’s Posse, the golf courses, local churches, other craft clubs, the bridge club and the SCW Library.
The Woodworking Club grew quickly, and internal systems were developed to address the growth. Policies and Operating guidelines were written and voted on by the membership. Safety Standards were established, and a Safety Training course developed for new members.
The club is rich in talent and Education became a focus. Classes were (and still are) offered on machines and projects.
Social activities, such as monthly “Happy Hour”, the annual picnic or the Christmas party, remind us that we are a “social club” doing woodworking.
A Temporary Setback:
On October 4, 1994. On this fateful day, the Manager of the Kuentz Recreation Center, while making a routine walk-through inspection of the Wood Shop, noticed that the ceiling was sagging. He called the Rec Center’s Maintenance Manager and a quick inspection revealed that one of the roof trusses had pulled apart and threatened to bring the roof down. The next day the club was closed pending a more thorough inspection. This was a blessing in disguise as the shop expanded during the rebuild and appeared as it does today.
Acquisition of new equipment is taking place regularly to replace worn out machinery, update technology and increase safety. Radial arm saws are a thing of the past. SawStop saws that protect all digits replaced all tabletop saws. A “Jump Saw” that clamps wood down and requires you to move your hands away from the cutting blade has replace the chop saw.
The Club is still evolving with equipment upgrades and additions. CNC Machines occupy a prominent place in the shop, systems are computerized and made easier to manage, but the shop is still the wood club, committed to fellowship, learning and making keepsakes.
There is a detailed history of the club and is located in the Wood Shop library.