List of ideas to reduce damage to tools in the Woodshop

Thanks to everyone that responded to my post “Do we hold members accountable for damage in the wood shop?” I have reviewed 50+ comments/ideas from this thread along with 200+ comments from “Joy of Maintaining the Woodshop”. There were a lot of good ideas generated. I have created a summary of the ideas put forth to solve the problem of damage to DMS tools (see list below). I don’t think there is one single solution to this problem. We will likely need a few solutions.

The Goal: Reduce the number of incidents of damage to DMS tools in the Woodshop while making it easy and not too onerous to learn how to use tools properly.

If we achieve this goal, we should reduce repair costs, reduce tool downtime and (hopefully) retain and attract more members.

Next Steps: I recommend that the list of ideas below be reviewed at the next Woodshop Committee meeting where each idea can be accepted, rejected or modified. Then volunteers need to be found to coordinate and fulfill each accepted idea. Ultimately, it is up to the Woodshop Committee to pick and prioritize the combination of ideas that it believes will be most effective in achieving the above goal. Of course, without volunteers to take them on, the ideas will not be developed or implemented.
Note this is NOT a recommendation to implement anything – it is a list of things that could be done. I believe the Woodshop Committee has the final say in what gets implemented.

Idea 1: Develop accountability standards. Clearly define consequences for classes of actions that damage tools. This should include not just damage but also cleanliness. A communication plan should be part of this effort (publish online, make the list part of training and/or post in the shop). We have a list of do’s and don’t’s, but consequences are not clear (at least to me).

Examples of accountability standards: if you use a machine in a way that clearly violates DMS standards (such as end grain in the planer, using a pad sander without sandpaper, etc…) the consequences are…. TBD.
If you do not clean up….
If you leave tools out ….
If you do not report damage …

Details to be worked out by a subcommittee dedicated to this idea. If this is accepted by the Woodshop Committee as worthwhile, who is willing to take this idea on and make a detailed recommendation?

Idea 2: Develop a disciplinary process for violators of accountability standards. For each incident of damage or inappropriate use, develop a process to review the incident (video, RFID tags, etc) determine if a violation of standards occurred and recommend action (payment, retraining, ban, community service etc).

Key is to have checks and balances. Maybe have the disciplinary committee forward a recommendation to the woodshop chair who implements the action or forwards to BOD for action. Appeals would go to the BOD. Another key is to make this as easy/simple as possible on whoever runs the process. Reviewing video and rfid logs is time consuming.

Details to be worked out by a sub-committee dedicated to this idea. Once the process is developed it will have to be staffed by volunteers. If this is accepted by the Woodshop Committee as worthwhile, who is willing to take this idea on and make a recommendation?

Idea 3: Create a helpdesk (either: Shop stewards, subject matter experts or some type of Mentor program). Create a recommendation for an “ask an expert” helpdesk. Find a way to provide guidance to new (and experienced) woodworkers. Figure out how to staff with volunteers. The challenge to developing this idea is finding the right people to staff it. Not everyone knows every tool. Creating a schedule and filling the schedule will be difficult. What, if any, is the legal liability of the person giving advice?

If this is accepted by the Woodshop Committee as worthwhile, who is willing to take this idea on and make a recommendation?

Idea 4: Improve and standardize signage in the Woodshop. Review current signage for content and visual impact. Some machines have lots of signs. Some have none. Not everyone reads signs – but at least of we have one and if/when someone violates what is on the sign. We have a clear case to make disciplinary action. The challenge to developing this idea is that there is a trade off of the amount of information, sign size and font size. If there is too much information then no one reads, too little and the impact is not as great.

If this is accepted by the Woodshop Committee as worthwhile, who is willing to take this on?

Idea 5: Raise awareness by documenting tool damage and how to avoid (top 10)
Create a lessons learned page on the wiki or talk. Update on a regular basis.
If this is accepted by the Woodshop Committee as worthwhile, who is willing to take this on?

Idea 6: Shop Training Videos. Mark has started this (Felder is done!). Not sure how many more he is planning on creating or how much help he wants/needs.

Idea 7: Add testing to training. Create a test that requires users to review DMS standards (See idea 1) and machine manuals to demonstrate that they know how to properly use a tool. May want to enforce an annual retaking of test. Figure out how to administer and grade.

If this is accepted by the Woodshop Committee as worthwhile, who is willing to take this on?

Idea 8: RFID on more tools. There is a trade-off of cost of RFID readers and effectiveness. I believe this is already being looked into.

Idea 9: Update/upgrade training content. Review current training curriculum. Look at it holistically. Are we covering everything that needs to be covered? Once again there is a tradeoff of information vs effectiveness. How much can a woodworker absorb? Do you teach every rule or do you teach where to find the rules? Do we teach how to think through what you are about to do with a shop tool. If so, how?

If this is accepted by the Woodshop Committee as worthwhile, who is willing to take this on?

Idea 10: Maintenance lists. It has been suggested that part of the problem of tool damage is a lack of regular maintenance. A list of all maintenance items with a recommended frequency for each tool may help. I am working on this. A second (and hopefully final) draft should be done in time for the March woodshop clean up day.

Any other ideas?


Great list but the 1 issue I see is basically asking volunteers who have a full plate already to basically take on essentially another full time job by going through all those very time consuming practices, the classes alone, to familiarize 4-9 people with all the tools manuals and mechanical workings, were talking about atleast a 3-4 hour class on top of the extra 2 hours you’d need to add to every class to really thoroughly teach 7 people how to operate the tools at an intermediate level! So the ideas are good just the reality of the logistics involved and how much that’s really asking volunteers with wives jobs kids and an already full workload to do make this post kinda more suited for the “in a perfect world” sections


Might be a starting point for what could be done, though. Put the ideas up, and folks will start thinking about what’s feasible.


I’m working on a single page document to be laminated and put by a tool. It will document the common things to do before starting use, common mistakes, and things to do after usage.


Thank you.

Adding a link/qr code to a wiki page would be great. The page can be updated as the knowledge grows and volunteers have time and energy to contribute.


To be clear - the list above is just a list of what COULD be done - I am not telling anyone to do anything nor suggesting that any of this be implemented. Some or all of this list may be completely impractical.
But the list may spark someone to an idea that accomplishes the goal in a way that is not onerous for a woodworker or volunteer.

The only thing I am doing is assembling a list of other peoples ideas and recommending that the Woodshop Committee take a look at it. They can ignore it if they want to. Ultimately the Woodshop Committee needs to decide what to do, if anything, then find volunteers to do it.

[By the way, the “perfect world” solution (where time and money are not object) is to hire professional woodworkers to monitor the shop and repair equipment 24x7- but the cost would be prohibitive.]

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One of the items I was going to implement is adding supervised machine learning to the RFID Interlock’s.

I would need trainers to review jobs and mark Yes/No on job periods until a good baseline was created for all equipment.

The intent would be an email would go out to review footage of suspected bad behavior.

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Yea I agree full time monitoring goes right along with some of these ideas, I understand the point of the post and it’s useful to stimulate conversation but realistic expectations of what can actually be implemented serves the greater good, more effectively than idea that just aren’t feasible in any sense or restructuring

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So has woodshop ever offered scheduled office hours like some other committees have done?

Just a scheduled window of time where someone relatively new to woodworking could come and know someone would for sure be there to answer quick questions?

I know some of the larger mentoring things above won’t be practical or would be more burden on volunteers, but office hour windows would be a smaller time commitment. There might could be folks that aren’t up to teaching a class but are skilled enough to recognize and redirect newbie woodworkers, reinforce some things like how to clean up after, etc.

I know for myself, I took the old classes, have vague idea of simple beginner projects I’d like, but I was chicken to go in completely on my own, so didn’t. And at the time I didn’t know people to ask.

But really, if I’d had a window where I knew I could get someone to just check me out that I’m remembering the right details from training class before I turn on something sharp, I’d have been all over that.

As it is now, I know people that I’d feel comfortable asking for help, but that’s very intimidating if you’re new.

And maybe the office hours thing has been tried and I missed it, but if not, it seems like it wouldn’t be hard to try it.



Thanks for distilling the comments and capturing the recommendations in a single thread. Starting the discussion will allow others to add comments and maybe some we have overlooked.

The second part of this is asking for volunteers to raise their hands and say I will help.

Give the thread some time and we can discuss the output at the next Woodshop Committee meeting.

Thanks Again for your efforts.


Excellent clear ideas and sensible list.

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@dwolf So in regards to Idea 4, I would love to help out. I actually was pointed to this thread by @jast from one I made about a similar idea: Woodshop Signage Ideas?

I’d be more than happy to help design signage for the woodshop, with an emphasis on it being highly visibly and less likely to be ignored.

@jottwell if you would like to collaborate on this with me I think we could make some really effective signs. I was thinking we could maybe get a shared document going on google docs so other can contribute/view.


Could we have a kiosk at some of the machines?
Phase 1,
Use it to log an issue. If you dont log an issue there should be repercussions.
Use it so if next user finds a problem we can get a good timestamp and what the problem is, use that to find previous users and time period for video review.
Phase 2,
Display critical job instructions at the machine of do’s and dont’s and require the user to acknowledge they understand. Acknowledge would be good for a short period like 1 day for users who have only started the machine x times, maybe longer for experienced users. Require new review of job instructions and acknowledge if the timestamp on the instructions is newer than the version acknowledged.
Display help for expected things like changing from ripping to crosscut tablesaw blade. Machine power would not be enabled till the instructions are acknowledged.

I didn’t write the software but speced software that does this on a critical process where I work. It took about 10 PDF files, some several pages long, with lots of photos, to explain the process.

When something breaks we need to understand root cause, it’s probably lack of training, carelessness, forgetting training, or abuse. Breakage and root cause should be reviewed at woodshop committee meetings to brainstorm preventive measures. A switch failing or bearing failing is expected. Abuse or violating safety is unacceptable.


If we do a kiosk, it would be great to also have access to the safety videos @Mrksls2 has been making. The first one is a comprehensive how-to video for how to empty the Felder.

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Maybe have a week long calendar posted with time blocks of an hour or two that experienced members could sign up for to help newer people. If no one needs help you can work on projects in that time block. Encourage new people to look at the board and find times that work for them to come in and have guidance on projects. Probably would be good to list specialties under the names such as lathe, multicam, cutting boards…

The calendar could be nothing more than telling new people when experienced members plan on coming in to work on their own projects.


We’re printing these aprons up right now for the woodshop. Idea is anyone who is comfortable answering questions while they’re in the shop can put one on, and that way skittish/shy members know that anyone wearing an apron is there to help out.


I try not to reply to many of these posts, but this is a good idea. Thank you.

add this into the tour group spiel. And maybe put some signs up around the space

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I dig the Riddler colors., lol!

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Another option for mentorship, which I also floated in this thread: Volunteer Spreadsheet/Email List? was possibly having a spreadsheet for people willing to mentor with their contact info/skillsets so people could reach out individually. It might be easier with busy schedules.

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