Founded in 1984 and granted 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in 1992, the Kansas City Woodworkers Guild has long been on a mission “to promote the skill and craft of woodworking, and to provide education, information, fellowship, and organization to those interested in working with wood.” Housed in a centrally located building complete with classrooms, a library, a lumber room, and of course machine shops full of any tools a woodworker may need, the Guild is a thriving hub. To date, they have 700 members of various woodworking backgrounds, from novice to amateur to professionals.
In support of their mission, for the past several years, the Kansas City Woodworkers Guild has been exhibiting at Maker Faire Kansas City, now in its eighth year, taking place this weekend, June 24 and 25. While initially, the Guild used their space at the Faire to showcase the Guild members’ works and projects, they quickly realized that hosting a hands-on activity, particularly the making of a toy of some sort, would be a great way to engage kids, as well as promote their craft to the non-woodworking public.
This year, they’re prepared to host the building of 1,000 toy trucks. We spoke with the Guild’s Events Director, Alex Scott, who offered some insight:
Our booth will allow kids to come and put together their own truck with “some assembly required.” The axle and wheel will be glued, as well as the truck bed. This year’s toy truck is a slight remodel from previous years. There is a 3/4-inch cab window, a flat slant for the windshield (as opposed to the previous curvy model), and a 2 x 3.5-inch flatbed for all of the kids’ towing and hauling needs! You never know when you need to get an extra shipment of Legos to the build site under the child’s bed, or when a GI Joe needs a medical evacuation. For next year, we’re considering a couple of other models, such as a bus, a tanker truck, etc.
Organizing a hands-on activity for such a large group of people is no easy task. For the past month and a half, the Guild has been drumming up support from their members. The bulk of the prep work took place during two “truck build” days, where Guild members came out to help build the truck components. Scott says, “I’ve met new Guild members, and we built a camaraderie during those days. We’ve made components for over 1,000 trucks this year.”
Naturally, this type of large-scale build is not without its challenges. How does the Guild overcome them? Scott shared:
Each year develops its own unique set of challenges. Since this is my first year heading up the booth, I’m trying to think ahead of any possible issue that may occur. Leading up to this year’s event, I met with the previous volunteers. The biggest issue they found was the time it takes for glue to dry, so this year we upgraded and are using Titebond Quick & Thick wood glue, allowing the glue to set faster.
Also, in previous years, it was reported that we ran out of trucks to build. If I recall correctly, they started with 300 trucks a few years ago, then increased it to 400 last year, but they still ran out midway through Saturday. Not this year! We are ready with 1,000 trucks.
Furthermore, I would not be able to make this happen if it wasn’t for the Guild members volunteering. This year, we have shifts that will be filled by more than 30 Guild members, allowing us to build more trucks and be available to speak with adults about the Guild.
It’s truly impressive that this level of thought and effort is put forth with the sole aim of spreading the joy of woodworking!
Take a tour of the Kansas City Woodworkers Guild headquarters in the video below, and come say hello to them at the 8th annual Kansas City Maker Faire this weekend, alongside Tesla coils, handmade crafts, robots, low riders, and more! Check out our preview post about the show. To learn more, visit Kansas City Maker Faire.