After their previous workshop burned to the ground in 2020, members of the woodworkers association at the Peter Becker Community in Harleysville, Pennsylvania, envisioned a new, fully-equipped shop.
Photo of shop

They provided input for the design and layout of a 2,300-square-foot facility. It opened in April 2021 with all new equipment. Located on the property of the nonprofit retirement community, the workshop serves only its residents.

The shop incorporates a 1,600-square-foot main room where stationary tools and workbenches share space with racks for lumber and sheet-goods storage. A 10' overhead door makes it easy to move equipment, supplies, and finished pieces in or out. A number of windows, along with plenty of LED lighting and white painted walls, make for a bright, shadow-free work environment. Two heat pumps condition the air for the shop.

Photo of shot with inset of dust collectors

Ductwork for two dust collectors runs along the walls, with drops at every major tool. When one of the 55-gallon collection drums fills to near capacity, a red light on the wall flashes to alert shop users.

The adjacent workroom houses a workbench and table for furniture repair and refinishing. Tucked along one wall, a carving station incorporates a worktable with a task light and plenty of workspace.

In a separate dedicated paint room, members use only nonvolatile finishes, such as water-based coatings, because code restrictions prohibit using solvent-based finishes.

Overhead drawing of shop layout
Photo of workbenches in shop
A wide variety of workbenches throughout the workshop meet the needs of both power- and hand-tool users.
Photo of workstation in shop
A well-equipped workstation caters to carvers. It features magnetic tool racks on the wall, and plenty of room on the benchtop for custom tool racks, supplies, and projects.
photo of mobile crosscut and miter station one shop
Mobile and versatile, the dedicated crosscut and miter workstation features long, auxiliary fences, making it easy to accurately break down lengths of lumber at 90°.
Photo of sanding station in shop
This sanding center includes a downdraft sanding table, a variety of sanders and a small bandsaw. A shop-made manifold puts dust-collection blast gates for each tool right on the tabletop.

A ceiling-mounted exhaust fan helps eliminate any lingering odors from the finishes. 

Because of the community nature of the shop, it has to comply with some regulations most home shops don't. For insurance purposes, each user must sign a  "Rules of Use" and release of liability form. Also, each user receives training on tool operation before being permitted to use the woodshop. 

Woodworkers are encouraged to have a buddy on site and, if they work alone, they must wear an emergency pendant device.

Near one of the exit doors a large first-aid kit contains supplies needed for minor injuries, such as a splinter or small cut. The shop's 100-amp electrical service features two emergency cutoff buttons in prominent locations in the machine room. 

Photo of tool list and locator
Prominently displayed lists help users find tools and reminds them where to return equipment and supplies. A letter or number identifies every cabinet door and drawer.

Ongoing funding for the shop comes from donations from residents for furniture repairs made by association members and the sale of wooden items in the gift shop. The workshop has become a showcase for the community's woodworkers, providing a dedicated workspace, and encouraging other residents to try their hand at woodworking. 

Photo of community woodworkers
The Peter Becker Community Woodworkers Association boasts a membership of more than 20, and it keeps growing. The residents of the community benefit from their handiwork and woodworking instruction. Front Row: Jim Rich, Joe Bondi, John Walz, Ron Foley, Jody Law, Doug Law Back Row: Chet Bergy, Mark DePorry, George Finnin, Dave Wolff, Larry Moss, Larry Kratz, Barry Troxel, Howard Dickinson, Bill Rose, Bob Coble, Roy Feiss, Wayne Whitney, Curt Michener Absent: Chuck Forsythe, Joe Bussmann, Wayne Shaw

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