The Woodshed started initially through a Strathalbyn Council request to a local Probus Club meeting in 2003, seeking volunteers for a Shared Skill program, to be coordinated by Council. This program aims to give young people experience in woodwork using hand tools.
Following a positive response, the Council’s Shared Skill program started on 5 November 2003, and operated from the shed between the Strathalbyn Library and the Bowling Green.
The initial facilities were very modest, being limited to simple hand tools only in the old Strathalbyn School shed. A wood lathe was purchased at the Adelaide Wood Show in June 2004 as one of the first major purchases for the program.
Establishment of the Strathalbyn Senior Woodwork Group
Local companies, service clubs and local people were encouraged to donate both new and second-hand equipment to the shed.
This led to an expansion of activities at the shed to include a woodwork based “men’s shed” in late 2004, known as the “Strathalbyn Senior Woodwork Group”, which operated alongside to the Shared Skill program. The management arrangement for the new group was formalised under a Section 41 arrangement with Council in November 2004.
By 2008, the Woodwork Group’s activities and facilities had outgrown this modest area, and permission was granted by Council to expand into the adjacent Council garage. This provided an area for a modest tearoom, and for splitting the work areas into a machinery/joinery area, and a woodcraft area.
New name and new premises
Over the following years, continued growth in the Woodwork Group’s membership and equipment meant that activities had again outgrown the existing facility. It was evident the Woodshed was meeting an important need in the community, and it was clear the Shed would be more appropriately located away from a residential setting. This, coupled with the desire by Council to utilise the existing premises for other purposes, led to a decision to relocate the Woodshed to a larger, dedicated facility on the outskirts of Strathalbyn.
It was during this time that the organisation became an incorporated association known as the Strathalbyn Wood Craft Group Inc.
The new Woodshed building was funded by the Alexandrina Council at a cost of $310,000 and Wood Craft Group members contributed approximately $40,000 in fitting out the building, insulating walls and ceilings, and painting the interior.
On 23 March 2018, the new shed at 97a Milnes Road, Strathalbyn, was officially opened.
This new, larger work area allowed for the installation of a wide range of high-quality woodworking equipment, and for new workbench space, to cater for the rapidly growing membership.
An upgrade of dust collection facilities was carried out to improve the working environment. The workshop area is split into two main areas: a 12 x 9 metre machinery or joinery section with a panel saw, medium and large band saws, a compound mitre saw, thicknesser and buzzer, and table routers, and a 12 x 15 metre woodcraft section.
The woodcraft section houses eight wood lathes including a copying lathe and a large unit capable of 600mm diameter bowls or 2400mm long verandah posts, plus a variety of sanding machines, drill presses, small band saw, drop saw and scroll saws. Work benches and an assembly bench, plus a large variety of handheld power tools and accessories, complete the woodcraft section equipment.
In designing the layout of the workshop and amenities areas, consideration was given to providing adequate spacing between machines and work areas with a logical layout, and to minimise the impact of noisy machines, particularly in the amenities area. Separate areas for dust collection equipment and timber and project storage have been provided as well. The amenities include a kitchenette/tearoom, meeting room and toilets.