Do we hold members accountable for damage in the wood shop?

I have personally witnessed several incidents of well intentioned members damaging DMS equipment in the wood shop over the last few months. I have read about many more incidents on TALK. I don’t think there has been an incident where some one set out to intentionally damage equipment (but I do not know of all incidents in DMS’s history). The general themes are “I thought it was ok to use the _______ tool to cut _______. I didn’t know it was not” and “I didn’t know that the ______ tool needed to be set up that way”.

I am also not aware of anyone being held accountable for damage. However, I have been a member for < 1 year and I am not privy to disciplinary actions.

From my viewpoint, as a DMS user of the wood shop, it’s pretty clear to me that you can join DMS, make as many innocent mistakes as you want and you will never be disciplined or have to pay for your mistakes. That is my perception after 8 months of being in the wood shop ~16 hours a week. Reality maybe different. I hope it is.

Until it is clear to all members that members who damage DMS equipment (no matter how innocent or how well intentioned ) will be held accountable via disciplinary actions (suspension, retraining, community service or other) and paying for the damage, we will continue to have a high rate of breakage.

Imagine you want to do something to piece of wood and aren’t sure if it is a good idea or appropriate. As it stands now – what the hell, try it, if it breaks the tool, so what, there won’t be any consequences (other than I may wreck my piece of wood) nor will I have to pay. Now imagine a world where you have to pay for damage and/or suffer disciplinary action. Hmmmm maybe I should ask someone if it is a good idea to use a machine in a particular way BEFORE I do it. It might be a good idea to read the manual. It might lower breakage rates.

Of course, there is a fine line between a tool fails when it is being used as the manufacturer intends and the tool fails because someone used the tool in an inappropriate way. In all the examples I have seen of damage – it is pretty clear that users were using the tool inappropriately. There is also a fine line in damaging a person’s reputation (DMS seems to err on the side of caution on this). It would be in the best long term interest to publish incidents and consequences (and leaving out names if you are worried about legal issues). Hence, members can learn from other members mistakes and see that there are consequences. If there were no consequences for burglary – do you think the burglary rate would increase or decrease?

If nothing changes, DMS will eventually go bankrupt – either due to paying too much for repairs or not having enough members because the tools do not work (or a combination of both).

General question to DMS leadership (woodshop chairs and the BOD): Do we hold members accountable? Should we? What do other committees do when damage occurs in their areas? Note, if a BOD responds please make it clear that you are on the board, I don’t know the handles of the current board members.


Here is a list of disciplinary actions with reasons why people may be expelled by the board. Expulsion from DMS is usually a result of an intentional act like theft. Disciplinary actions for specific committees could include being asked to re-take a class or getting banned from one area like wood shop by the chair. If the chair thinks it is appropriate, disciplinary action can be escalated to the board but again that’s usually for intentional acts like theft from their area.


Your never going to get the answer you want on this. It really comes down to it is a mess of a project to deal with. Also, please don’t over state your points by claiming it will all end in the bankruptcy of DMS. That only makes your great point easier to dismiss.

Some history about discipline in our group around tool breakage. We have disciplined members for breaking tools. Types of punishments have been charging for repairs, requiring the retaking of a class, banning from use of tool, banning from use of committee space, and lastly just brow beating the individual ruthlessly.

We don’t try to force payment in most cases for punishment for a few reasons though. First, some of our tools can have repair costs that are just unreasonable for an individual to afford. Second, how do we prove the tool hadn’t already been compromised by the use of others or lack of maintenance. Lastly, the only way we have to easily enforce payment is through threat of expulsion.

But, more important than the punishments is who wields the stick. In the vast majority of cases the committee or committee head is tasked with that job. As they must identify the individual and suggest punishment. If the punishment is more than removing an AD approval or refusing access to committee space, the committee would likely lodge a formal complaint with the BOD to take action against the member.

I hope this all makes since and helps your understanding of both the possible punishments as well as how you can get involved with the committee to help police the use of tools in their committee area.


Committee chairs have banned members from their committee area due to misuse of tools. One former member broke things in almost every committee and just kept getting kicked out of one area after another.


7 posts were split to a new topic: Questions about board actions

The one place where there is accountability is on the SawStop. I’m sure this is documented somewhere, but I can’t find it. Someone in Woodshop should correct me if this rule has changed.

Anyway, if you trigger the SawStop via a bona fide accident and it saves you from getting injured … then we are glad you aren’t hurt and there is no financial impact to you. However, there is a list of things that causes the SawStop to erroneously trigger (things like nails, laser char, and so on). If you cause the SawStop to erroneously trigger, then the replacement cost of (blade/brake?) are your responsibility.


A post was merged into an existing topic: Questions about board actions

A post was merged into an existing topic: Questions about board actions

Generally speaking we are quite forgiving. things happen. Most of our members aren’t professional woodworkers and breakage happens because there is not a shop steward (of sorts) standing there saying ‘hey you shouldn’t run that board because there is a nail sticking out’. Most good members will own up to their mistakes and we generally give them the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand we have a large population of customer mentality people who simply don’t give a crap either way. If someone has been corrected and does the same thing again and causes breakage, then things move into the realm of deliberate breakage and it should be punished. Under the current list of rules, there is NO rule that says you’re financially responsible. However, a chair can bring a formal complaint against someone for abuse/deliberate breakage at which point the board can say pay up or get out. It’s their call.

the chairs do have say. they can ban a member from their area but only for a month or until the next board meeting (for formal complaints) whichever comes first.


I’m glad you brought this up. We generally do not want to punish people for accidents. Just let us know so we can fix it, get a replacement etc.

If someone is abusing a tool that is different. Just yesterday someone was leaning into a piece of wood forcing it into the planer. Come on let the tool do the work! :wink:



While it may be embarrassing to realize you just broke a valuable tool, as @Kriskat30 once told me, part of being a grownup is admitting to your mistake(s).

Just like leaving a bigass mess behind for somebody else to cleanup, not owning up to a screwup is actually a bigger black mark than the original mistake.



How about making a top-ten list of dumb things to do to hurt our tools? If it was posted in the shop I’d study it.


I’d like to see some type of enforcement/accountability. The wood shop has seen a lot of hard use this month leading to equipment outages. It’s very frustrating to come to the space to find a key item needed for your project damaged or needing reassembly. The RFID system and cameras should make it fairly easy to determine who the members are. I believe pulling them aside for some coaching, remedial cleaning, or a suspension of privileges.

Maybe a sign something like:
Year To Date Team Woodshop has banned 4 members for abusing tools, revoked 3 members training, and spent 387.5 volunteer hours fixing equipment damaged by members.

0 days since a member did something stupid with a DMS Woodshop tool. (this one is permanent :smiley: )


Some perspective from disciplinary matters I’ve handled, most have been for wilful safety violations in which case I kick them out of the shop. There has been a few where I asked them to retake the training due to the level of mistakes being made despite them being covered in the class. Some get BoD referrals, some don’t.

The biggest thing is owning mistakes; they happen, we’re a learning environment. Thinks like trying to determine if you’re being too aggressive or too light with a grinder can take someone time and we get you may burn a wheel on accident. Grinding aluminum when the training and signs plastered on the machine say not to is a different story.



The cameras and rfid do not necessarily make it easy to determine who caused breakage or misuse. Enforcement is difficult for many reasons. 1)we have to know approx when it happened. 2) we have to have someone with time on their hands to look through video, sometimes hours or days worth. 3)when we do get a picture, we may not know who the person even is 4)not everything is on rfid, and even if it were we may not know whether the person who “broke it” could have just been the last person in a string of misuse.


Question… Is there a rfid log that could be reviewed to see who used the tool last? I know that not every tool has the rfid lock-out but honestly as a member if I had to choose between using expensive nice tools with rfid locks or using cheep tools without rfid locks I would be completely fine with the hassle dealing with rfid locks to use nice tools. Plus then if there is a system which logs you “checking out” a tool it sure would be easier to find out what is going on.

Id think so. I’d think that’d be one of the main reasons to have done it.

Yesterday when I went into the Woodshop the following tools were down: Multicam, Powermatic lathe, Jointer, Planer, Drum sander, and the Sawstop. (Did I miss anything?) I don’t know what percentage that it is, but functionally well over half of the shop was down. I don’t know how much of it is due to tool abuse, but I can pretty much guess.

What other committee has to go through this on such an ongoing and regular basis? (I don’t know. I’m asking.) Is there even one other one?

Personally, I think we are way too lax in letting members use the big power tools with such minimal training. There ought to be some mentoring involved too. After taking the class, if a newly trained member wants to use one of the big power tools they should have to bring the project to a more experienced woodworker (“mentor”) for review. I’m sure that a significant percentage of the tool abuse occurs when the member is using the wrong tool for the job, or using the wrong technique–both of which are entirely preventable.

I also think we do not hold members accountable for the damage they cause, accidental or otherwise. IMHO, if someone damages one of the tools they should pay to fix it. Running a board with a nail in it through the jointer or planer is inexcusable–even if done innocently or unintentionally. If there is any question at all, the member attempting to joint or plane the board should get a mentor involved before wrecking a tool. If they can’t or won’t pay for the damage they should be permanently banned from the Woodshop.

Having had my own garage workshop for years–parts of which I donated to the DMS Woodshop several years ago–it is maddening to see the abuse heaped upon such high quality tools with utter abandon. (Apparently, my donated bandsaws were trashed and thrown out in short order. One was 50 years old the other was 30, and both had survived years of use in production environments.)

It really is time to stop talking about this and do something about it.


Maybe I am just old school or in the minority, but if I am using someone’s tools and I break it in some manner, I would pay to fix it. This is just how I was raised. Sorry I know this comment was not helpful. I just read these posts and look at the pictures and I’m left speechless.

I feel privileged to have access to the tools at DMS. Intimidated by some of them but I will ask a whole bunch of questions before I go anywhere near something like the HAAS. Not to mention the training.