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General Shop Overview

Estimated time 30 min to 1 hour


  • Make sure that the students are informed ahead of time to all wear closed toe shoes, and avoid wearing loose clothing on this day.
  • Students should walk away from this workshop being certified to use the table saw.


  • Bag of hair ties
  • Woodshop tools
    • Band Saw
    • Miter Saw
    • Table Saw
    • Sanders
  • Scrap wood
    • A couple 2x4’s that the students can cut on the table saw, as well as for the miter saw demonstration.
    • A small piece of sheet to demonstrate on the band saw.

Training Workshop outline:

  1. Bring group of 15-20 students into the woodshop.
  2. Explanation of what the woodshop can be used for:
    1. The sorts of props you can make.
    2. How to process material. What types of material can be processed in the shop.
    3. Examples of basic constructions that teams have done in the past.
  3. Go over shop approved clothing. Make sure people tie back their hair, put jewelry in their pockets, etc.
  4. Go over safety equipment - goggles, earphones/plugs, dust masks.
  5. Demonstrations
    1. Demonstrate the band saw.
      1. How to measure cuts and get precise cuts on the band saw.
      2. How to adjust the blade.
      3. Tips and guidelines for using the band saw.
      4. Tips and guidelines for using the band saw.
      5. Ways of stopping the band saw.
      6. What to do after you’re done. (aka. Unplug it)
      7. How to turn it on.
      8. Demonstrate how to cut a piece of wood on the band saw. Always push into the blade, how to cut curves, how to cut pieces out of a sheet, how to get angles or cutouts.
    2. Demonstrate the miter saw.
      1. How to measure cuts.
      2. How to adjust the blade.
      3. Tips and guidelines for using the miter saw.
      4. Ways of stopping the miter saw.
      5. What to do after you’re done. (aka. Unplug it)
      6. How to turn it on.
      7. Demonstrate how to cut a piece of wood on the miter saw. Check the warp on the piece of wood you’re about to cut. You want it to fall away from the blade rather than into it when you’re cutting on the miter saw.
    3. Demonstrate the table saw.
      1. How to check the blade.
      2. How to replace the blade.
      3. How to measure cuts.
      4. How to adjust the blade.
      5. Tips and guidelines for using the table saw.
      6. Ways of stopping the table saw.
      7. What to do after you’re done. (aka. Unplug it)
      8. How to turn it on.
      9. Demonstrate how to cut a piece of wood on the table saw, as well as the pushing stick. Explain how to cut different sizes.
      10. Let each student cut a piece of wood on the table saw. Multiple scrap pieces of panel could work here, or a 2x4.
    4. Demonstrate sanders.
      1. Different types of grits.
      2. Methods of hand sanding and why you would want to sand a piece.
      3. Explain sanding blocks and getting more precise sanding.
      4. Show pneumatic sander (or is it electric sanders?)
      5. Explain how to use these while reducing sanding lines, and how hard you need to press. In addition to this, explain how often you’ll need to swap discs.

Cardinal rules of the woodshop:

  1. Use the buddy system.
  2. Don’t hesitate to ask for help - even if you’ve already asked for help before.
  3. Do not take tools from the shop without express permission from the Shop TA.
  4. Do not bring food or drink into the shop, paint room, or fab lab. Ever.
  5. Do not wear sandals, slippers, or other open-toe shoes in the woodshop.
  6. Make sure to tie long hair back and take off hats.
  7. Do not wear loose clothing or jewelry in the woodshop.
  8. Always use proper safety equipment; goggles, hearing protection, masks, etc.
  9. Always put tools and materials back where you found them.
  10. Always unplug tools after you’re done using them - especially if you’re going to change the bit or blade.
  11. Always clean up messes upon leaving the shop.
  12. Do not do any sort of painting, staining, etc. in the woodshop or in the turnaround.
  13. Ask for approval prior to purchasing new materials/tools (unless you’re paying for it yourself).
  14. Notify the Shop TA when you will be using the woodshop so someone can supervise you.

Things to know:

  1. Measure twice, cut once.
  2. If you’re worried about your fingers, there are tools for that. If you want to use your fingers to grab a piece close to the blade, make sure the blade has stopped moving completely, or better yet, the tool has been unplugged.
  3. If wood can be joined without the use of screws or nails, the wood will be that much stronger.
  4. Are you cutting with or against the grain? Make sure you understand why you’re doing either.
  5. Once you’re cutting a piece of wood on the table saw, there is only one direction that piece of wood should ever go and that is through.
  6. Store your wood horizontally, in a dry, cool place to avoid warping.
  7. Use a sanding block for the best results. Make sure you work up to fine grits.
  8. You need less glue than you think to join two pieces of wood. Try to avoid gluing end pieces together.