More room for the ‘magic’ of wood

President of the Woodcraft Guild ACT, Graham Reynolds, left, and Richard Raffan… “Wood is magic stuff – creating things out of a tree, turning it into something beautiful,” says Graham. Photo by Kathryn Vukovljak

THE Woodcraft Guild ACT has doubled the size of its facilities in Kambah, with newly constructed workshops, a revamped forge and extra space for saws, woodturning and a meeting room, says its president Graham Reynolds.

“The enjoyment of traditional hobbies, do-it-yourself and making something with your own hands is becoming more popular, and it’s even better when you can do it in a community environment where you can meet other hobbyists, learn and improve your skills,” says Graham.

“More people now are wanting to realise that subliminal passion that’s been sitting there to do something more hands on.”

The Guild is hosting its annual family open day on November 5 with demonstrations all day, says Graham, including come-and-try woodturning, carving and pyrography.

“People can come and see what we do here, check out the workshops and decide whether they want to engage with us,” he says.

Graham says the Guild provides a shared workshop, tools and machinery for around 300 members to learn or improve their woodworking skills,

“We run 10-11 special-interest groups in different aspects of woodcraft, so members, who are of all ages and skill levels, can make anything they want,” he says.

“It’s not a single craft organisation – it has a range of people doing a wide range of woodcraft.

“Women are a big part of the group, too, we have women who have been involved for the last 30 years, it’s part of our DNA. It’s never been an organisation that was all blokes and it wasn’t set up as such.

“We’re family orientated as well, we like kids to come along and get involved and we welcome school groups, too.”

Graham says the expansion of the Guild’s facilities was financed and built mainly by Woodcraft Guild members, aided by a $15,000 grant from the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development’s “Stronger Communities” program.

It includes a benchwork and hand-tool area, a separate woodturning room with lathes, dedicated dust reduction, a machine room and a meeting space.

“The Guild is unique because it has everything at your fingertips, whether you want to make a wooden pen or a wardrobe, and we welcome anyone who is interested in woodworking,” he says.

“Wood is magic stuff – creating things out of a tree, turning it into something beautiful, it’s a transformative exercise. Whether it’s a turning piece, furniture, an instrument or a box, it’s enjoyable and we’ve got some really talented people here.

“If members don’t know what they want or need, we can offer advice and close supervision where needed – it’s a place to spend time with like-minded people and everybody learns from everyone else.”

Professional international woodturner and author Richard Raffan says he enjoys spending time at the Guild and is always happy to pass on his knowledge.

“This is an unusual bunch of people, and they can pass on what they know in a fairly articulate fashion,” he says.

“There are a lot of public servants here, too, people who have been running departments and they’ve had this passion lurking there for years and years. This helps them realise their passion, and realise I can do this, it isn’t too hard. And it isn’t – like anything, you build the skill over years.

“One of the things we hear often is that people take up woodworking in their sixties when they retire, and say they wish they had started in their twenties so they could have made their own furniture, rather than making it for the grandchildren.

“It would be nice to see more young people coming through.”

Woodcraft Guild ACT Open Day, Lions Youth Haven, Kambah Pool Road, Kambah, 10am-4pm, Sunday, November 5. Snags from the barbecue and drinks will be available. Visit for more information.

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