Stiles & 3M Team Up to Deliver Sanding Seminar at Madison College

Over three dozen individuals from industry and education attended a recent lunch and learn at Madison College in Madison, WI, sponsored by Stiles Machinery and 3M. Participants learned about how to select proper abrasive types, as well as new technology in wide belt and portable power sanding. Seminar sessions included classroom presentations and machine and tool demonstrations in Madison College’s Cabinetmaking shop.

Presenters included Peter Van Dyke of Stiles Machinery and Ron Hansen and Dan Bygd of 3M. In addition to walking away with a wealth of knowledge on sanding, one lucky participant won a new 3M pneumatic D/A sander, provided by 3M as the door prize.

The Cabinetmaking program at Madison College is a Woodwork Career Alliance (WCA) EDUcation™ member and hosts several seminars annually that are open to industry members. To get on the notification list, contact Patrick Molzahn at 608-246-6842 or

Get on Board! Become a Woodwork Career Alliance Sponsor

Support the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America’s workforce development initiatives and reap multiple promotional benefits by becoming a WCA Industry Supporter. Affordable sponsorship opportunities begin at $250.

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Download the WCA Sponsorship Brochure

WCA Passport Offers Prisoners a Second Chance

The Maine State Prison woodshop joins the Woodwork Career
Alliance as a MANufacturing member to accredit
prisoners’ woodworking skills.

Twenty-five convicted felons at the state maximum correctional center in Warren, ME, are participating in a pilot program with the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America. Each of the inmates was recently issued a WCA Passport to document his woodworking skills, setting him on a path for a fresh start upon his reentry into society.

The 25 new passport holders, each slated to be released within the next eight years, are among 140 inmates who work in the prison’s woodworking shop. There they learn about woodworking procedures and how to operate standard machinery including tables saws, planers, sanders and table top routers.

“All but about 30 of the inmates in our program are going to be released at some point,” said Ken Lindsey, industries manager, of Maine State Prison. “We want to train them so that they have good machinery skills. But we also want to work on their people skills to make sure they get along with others and are able to take direction from the staff. That’s a big part of the rehabilitation process.”

To get the program rolling, Greg Larson, director of the New England School of Architectural Woodwork and a member of the WCA Board of Directors, visited the prison to certify two inmates as WCA accredited skill evaluators. They in turn are responsible for testing individual inmates on specific woodworking and machinery skills. The individual is awarded a passport “stamp” for each test he passes. Through the combined accumulation of skill stamps and hours working in the woodshop, the passport holder can earn his WCA professional credentials that progress from Green to Diamond.

A Self-Supporting Enterprise
Lindsey and members of the woodshop staff are all former guards. Other Maine State Prison industry programs under Lindsey’s purview include upholstery, a machine shop, finishing and a plate shop which among other products makes license plates.

The woodshop is about the size of a football field. It contains more than 7,000 tools, a lot to keep track of in a prison environment, Lindsey noted. Among the newest machinery in the shop are five SawStop table saws and five SawStop contractor saws. “We really want to step it up and make things safer for the inmates and the staff,” Lindsey said.

Most of the products made in the woodshop are crafted from pine and ash lumber harvested, milled and dimensioned to final size by convicts at the Charleston Correction Facility, located about two hours north of Warren. The Warren inmates craft everything from novelties like ship models and jewelry boxes through larger furniture items such as bookcases and cupboards.

Eighty percent of the products are stained and sealed. They are by and large sold through a retail showroom in Thomaston. The showroom is a popular tourist destination during the summer and does about $1.6 million in annual sales.

“We are primarily a self-supported program with the exception of a couple of staff salaries,” Lindsey said. “Everything we have in the shop – machines, materials, tools – and inmates’ pay comes out of what we sell at our store in Thomaston. There are very little tax dollars spent on this program.” Lindsey added that the shop’s annual sales could be far greater if not for interstate commerce laws that prohibit sale of the prison shop’s products across state lines.

WCA Passport Pride
“The 25 guys who were chosen are proud to be in the passport program because they know it can help them,” Lindsey said. “If you are an ex-inmate, the job market can be tough. That can be one strike against you. But if you have the passport, when you apply to a woodworking company they will judge you more on whether you can handle a piece of machinery or can start day one as a productive worker than on whether you served time.”

“It’s too bad we didn’t know about the WCA sooner,” Lindsey added. “We have guys who get released with 10, 15 or more years of working in the woodshop for six to seven hours a day, five days a week. They have spent a lot of time on a variety of machines.”

Because of their years of experience working in the woodshop, Lindsey said the initial 25 passport holders should be able to quickly accumulate skill stamps. “They’ll breeze through the accreditation process of the different machines they have operated,” he said.

Lindsey said he is excited to watch the budding passport program grow and branch out. “We wanted to start off a little small and work the bugs out,” Lindsey said. “We’re constantly bringing in new workers so we’ll have no problem adding more inmates to the program. I know our central office in Augusta is watching behind the scenes to see how well this works. If it takes off here they may move it to some of the smaller woodshops at our other state prisons.”

“A lot of guys in our program messed up one time. They realize what they did was wrong,” Lindsey said. “After they do their time and get out they’re older and more mature. They are ready to move on with their lives and support their families. Hopefully the passport will help them have a living wage and an opportunity to do something they enjoy.”


Woodwork Career Alliance’s Website Gets a Makeover

The champion of woodworking skill standards recognized throughout North America updates its website to better serve the industry’s need for workforce development.

Nellysford, VA – The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America (WCA), celebrating its 10th anniversary as the champion of woodworking skill standards, is pleased to announce the relaunch of The newly redesigned website has been reorganized and updated to make it easier for woodworking professionals, suppliers and educators to access information about the WCA skill standards, allied credential passport program and other valuable employee training tools and resources.

“We’ve added so much information and so many new features to the website since its launch that it was definitely time for a reboot,” said Scott Nelson, president of the WCA. “By freshening the design and tightening up the site map, the website is now much easier to navigate.” features detailed information about the WCA’s Woodworking Skill Standards and credential Passport program that are recognized throughout the North American woodworking industry. Separate pages have been developed for each of the WCA’s core membership groups, including:

EDUcation™ – Learn how secondary and postsecondary woodworking programs can benefit from subscribing to the WCA.
MANufacturing – Learn how woodworking companies can use the WCA Skills Standards and Passport program to train and incentivize employees.
INDustry™ Supporter – This new membership category opens up WCA participation to manufacturers and distributors of woodworking machinery and supplies. The $250 annual subscription goes toward helping defray the cost of the student credentialing process and student passports.
Student – Learn about the WCA credentialing process, the gateway to a rewarding woodworking career.
Employee – Learn how the cloud-based WCA Passport program can help you distinguish yourself and grow your earning potential as you develop new machine skills.

Since it was chartered as a 503c non-profit in 2007, the WCA has developed Skill Standards for more than 240 woodworking machines and operations and issued nearly 1,600 individual skill credential passports. The standards and passports are recognized by educational institutions and woodworking companies operating throughout the United States and Canada. The overarching goal of the WCA is to develop and grow the industry’s workforce by creating pathways for woodworkers to advance their careers and incomes as they learn new skills.
Learn more about Woodwork Career Alliance membership and the WCA Skill Standards and Passport program at the new


About the Woodwork Career Alliance
The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America was founded in 2007 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation and is governed by a volunteer board of directors. The WCA’s mission is to develop and administer a unified set of Skill Standards for the wood products industry. Since 2011, WCA has developed observable and measurable performance standards and assessments for more than 240 woodworking machine operations. In addition, WCA has issued more than 1,600 Passports, a portable, personal permanent record documenting each holder’s record of achievements as a woodworking professional. More than 165 high schools and post-secondary schools throughout North America are WCA EDUcation™ members. To learn more about the WCA, how to get involved with its programs or to sign up to receive the quarterly WCA Pathways e-newsletter, visit

President’s Message: Thanks to Our Supporters and How You Can Become One

AWFS 2017 was a very busy and successful show for the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America. We signed up four new schools for the 2017-2018 school year, three new MANufacturing™ members and obtained leads for an additional half-dozen MANufacturing members at the show in Las Vegas.

WCA was also presented a check for $751 at the AWFS Fair from Vero Software from the sale of a custom T-shirt. This donation followed $2,740 raised during a silent auction in April at the Woodworking Industry Conference organized by the Woodworking Machinery Industry Association and the Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America. Both of these generous donations will benefit our Education Fund.

Whenever possible please support and recognize these outstanding industry supporters of WCA’s educational efforts.

In this edition of Pathways, WCA proudly announces the launch of its redesigned website: This is just our second generation of the website and I think you will find it more pleasing to the eye and easier to navigate. Please visit the site and let us know what you think.

In launching the website, I am also pleased to note that we have revised some of our membership categories. We have changed the name of our INDustry Member to MANufacturing Member and have added the category of INDustry™ Supporter. The INDustry Supporter category provides a way for manufacturers and distributors of woodworking machinery and supplies and other industry stakeholders to support the WCA. We have many schools and students who want to participate in the WCA credentialing program that have financial limitations preventing them from doing so.

Your yearly INDustry Supporter subscription will help defray the program cost for the school of your choice. If you do not have a particular school in mind that you want to help, your $250 annual subscription will go to a general fund to help schools and/or students in need of a helping hand.

INDustry Supporters will also have the opportunity to take advantage of our new sponsorship packages. Each sponsorship package – Bronze, Silver and Gold – comes with a progressively greater number of perks that will help the sponsor stand out in the marketplace as a supporter of the WCA and workforce development. Click here to learn more WCA sponsorship opportunities.

I hope everyone has a great Holiday Season!!!

Scott Nelson
Woodwork Career Alliance of North America

Vero Software Raises $751 for WCA with T-Shirt Promo

Vero Software Marketing Manager Paul Losavio is flanked by Patrick Molzahn and Scott Nelson of the WCA.

Vero Software of Tuscaloosa, AL, presented a $751 check to the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America during the AWFS Fair in Las Vegas.

Vero, whose programs include Cabinet Vision and Alphacam, was joined the Woodworking Network and the Architectural Woodwork Institute in sponsoring a limited edition “I Love Woodworking” T-shirt. The proceeds will help fund WCA programing.

“Education is absolutely vital to the success of the future of wood manufacturing,” said Paul Losavio, marketing manager for Vero. “The WCA is a great organization working to meet the educational needs of the industry and we are ecited to offer our support by raising money through this fun T-shirt fundraiser.”

“Vero Software has been a great supporter of the Woodwork Career Alliance,” said WCA President Scott Nelson. “We are very appreciative of the company’s many financial contributions to the cause of developing a skilled woodworking workforce.”