Welcome to The Villages Woodworkers Club (affectionately known as VWC). Let me give you a little history about how we came to be and to what we have evolved.
A little more than a decade ago, some Villagers, who had brought some of their personal equipment with them when they moved here, gathered and came up with a plan to make some wooden toys for needy children for Christmas. They set a goal to make 50 toys - cutting out the pieces in one garage, sanding them in another, assembling in a third place and coming together as the best of Christmas elves could. Word of their work got out and soon they had requests from groups also looking to make a child’s Christmas nicer. In the end they produced 142 toys that Christmas.
And so an idea was born –Recognizing that a woodworkers club would be ideal, the “elves” sought out the data to propose the idea of a club to The Villages. They traveled to see other clubs, collected info on the equipment needed, estimated the number of residents that might be interested and the money needed to get it all started. They then approached The Villages developer, Gary Morse, with the plan. Obviously they’d done a good job because Mr. Morse accepted the plan, expanded it, identified a site, equipped the building and turned it over to the “founders” as a Villages Club.
The Club was established; the by-laws were written; the officers were identified; the procedures were decided and the doors were opened for Villagers to “make sawdust”!
A decade later, we are a vibrant, active part of The Villages and have expanded to encompass two shops. Today we have over 1400 members. We are focused on three disciplines: 1) general woodworking which incorporates most common equipment and covers making everything from a small box to an entertainment center or a bedroom suite; 2) turning which involves work one of 11 lathes and covers making pens, bowls, salt and pepper mills, spindles etc.; and 3) carving which covers primitive carving, chip carving, caricatures, and birds so real they look as if they could fly away! In each of those fields we have rank amateurs to masters of their art.
On the altruistic, civic side, we devote some of our time to giving back to the community in which we reside. 1) Back to the toys – the “elves” now working six days a week all year long, make approximately 6000 toys a year for needy children in the area. 2) The turners and carvers unite to create personalized Eagle Head canes for any Florida soldier wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan in thanks for his/her contribution to our country. 3) The general woodworking area builds burial urns for indigent veterans such that families who do not have the means to bury their son/daughter/father/mother can do so with dignity. 4) A small group devoted to “special efforts” accepts pieces that need fixing, such chairs, tables etc. There is only a charge for the material. Any donation towards the labor is appreciated.
To expand expertise and satisfy that need to learn, we have established classes to train members in the different disciplines. The classes range from very elementary to levels of mastery. All are taught by members and cost a mere $10 for the “education part” plus whatever the material costs.
Having mentioned “materials”, it is nice to know that the Club has established a climate-controlled wood shed for each of our shops making most common woods and some exotics available for very reasonable cost. Additionally, a member need not own any tools (unless he or she chooses to). All tools are available within the Shop for use in the Shop.
Does it sound like a dream come true? Well, we know that we are prejudiced, but we think so! Our one-time initiation fee is very reasonable and our yearly dues are ridiculously low!
Want to know more? Stop by and see us at 704 Oak St, just off Rolling Acres. We’re pretty sure you’ll be impressed and just might want to join us all in “making VWC sawdust”!