President’s Message: Pandemic’s a Pain, but WCA is Doing OK

As fall is now upon us, we are still dealing with trying times and new challenges in both education and the workplace due to COVID-19. This issue of Pathways features a story on our latest survey of EDUcation members to gain some perspective on how they are handling the stresses of teaching woodworking to students amid a global pandemic.

WCA has had to make adjustments, but we’ve been fortunate to mostly maintain, as well as add some new EDUcation & MANufacturing members. Plus we’ve received the continued support of our Gold and Silver Sponsors. Thanks to all for standing with us during these extraordinary times!

On a more pleasant front, I am pleased to report that WCA recently awarded our first Gold Credential to an industry professional — Richard Memory a craftsman with Jefferson Millwork & Design of Sterling, VA. To achieve the Gold Credential, Richard had to demonstrate his ability to operate 180 operations and/or setups on various machines, successfully produce a Gold project and have logged at least 4,800 hours of on the job training. Richard has one more credential to go to complete the WCA credentialing process. I commend him on his ability and dedication to hone his craft! We’ll be issuing a press release commemorating his accomplishment soon.

Next week, WCA will be participating at IWF Connect, our first virtual woodworking machinery show. Please stop by our booth to discuss how WCA’s woodworking skill standards and credentialing Passport program can help your workforce development efforts. If you haven’t already done so, you can register to attend IWF Connect for free.

Also, IWF Connect will feature a Virtual Auction benefiting WCA. You can access the auction and check out the more than 130 bid items by either visiting the WCA’s or Expo Auctions’ booth. Read more about the auction in this issue of Pathways.

Please stay safe,

Scott Nelson
Woodwork Career Alliance of North America


Welcome New Members & Sponsors!

The Woodwork Career Alliance of North America is pleased to welcome 17 new EDUcation™ member schools, three new MANufacturing™ member, and one new EDUcation Supporter. We also welcome back five sponsors for another year.

Thank you for your membership and support!

New EDUcation™ Members

Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School, Clariton, MA
Burlington High School, Burlington, WI
East Troy High School, East Troy, WI
Hanford High School, Richland, WA
Hiwassee Dam High School, Murphy, NC
Jefferson-Lewis BOCES, Watertown, NY
Laurelbrook Academy, Dayton, TN
McDowell High School, Marion, NC
North Mason High School, Belfair, WA
Port Angeles High School, Port Angeles, WA
Roseburg High School, Roseburg, OR
St. Francis High School, St. Francis, WI
Silverton High School, Silverton, OR
Technical Careers High School, Idaho Falls, ID
Watertown High School, Watertown, WI
Western Michigan Christian High School, Norton Shores, MI
Whitnail High School, Greenfield, WI

Find WCA EDUcation™ woodworking programs in your area.

New EDUcation™ Supporter
Microvellum Software,
Central Point, OR

New MANufacturing™ Member
Advantage Architectural Woodwork
, Colby, KS
J. Miles Construction LLC, Shady Side, MD
Nucraft Furniture Co., Comstock Park, MI

INDustry™ Gold Sponsor Renewal
Newman Machinery,
Browns Summit, NC
SawStop LLC, Tualtin, OR

INDustry™ Silver Sponsor Renewal
Brookhuis, Suwanee, GA
Rowland Woodworking, High Point, NC
Sorrelli Woodwork Consultants, Brooklyn, NY

View all WCA INDustry™ Sponsors & Supporters.

Learn more about the benefits of sponsoring the WCA.

Microvellum Software’s Adopt-A-School Program Open to WCA EDU Members

Hunter O’Connor, a student at Reed-Custer High School in Braidwood, IL, designs a cabinet using Microvellum Software.

Free access to Microvellum’s Enterprise-level software is now available through the Woodwork Career Alliance’s EDUcation™ Member Benefits package to qualifying schools.

Microvellum, a company specializing in CAD/CAM/CIM technology for the woodworking industry, is partnering with the WCA to offer high school and postsecondary school woodworking programs the opportunity to participate in its Adopt-A-School program, a sponsorship arrangement that helps educational institutions connect with local businesses that use Microvellum Software.

The annual renewable program enables students and teachers with unlimited access to the full power of Microvellum’s AutoCAD-based design, estimating, engineering, and manufacturing software. In addition to the software donation, the Oregon-based company will also supply partnering schools with its level-one student and teacher edition training curriculum, quizzes, and final exams.

David Fairbanks, president and owner of Microvellum. had this to say about the company’s partnership with the WCA, “We are proud to partner with the WCA on such an important mission of education and empowerment. They, along with other industry partners, are helping to equip the future workers in our industry with the knowledge and confidence to succeed.”

Learn more about Microvellum’s Adopt-A-School program, including qualifying criteria.

Other benefits offered to WCA EDUcation members for the 2020-21 year include:

Bessey Tools North America of Cambridge, ON – 40% discount on all clamps;

CabWriter of Easthampton, MA – 75% discount on CabWriter Cabinet Design Software;

Franklin International of Columbus, OH – 2 gallons of Titebond wood glue;

Quickscrews of Livermore, CA – $50 credit toward the purchase of wood screws and fasteners;

Rockler Woodworking & Hardware of Medina, MN – assorted Rockler products;

Stiles University of Grand Rapids, MI – one tuition-free registration annually to WCA EDUcation member instructors;

Taunton Press of Newtown, CT – complimentary digital memberships to  and; and

Veneer Technologies of Newport, NC – 150 square feet of decorative hardwood veneer.

To learn more about becoming a WCA EDUcation member visit

Teacher’s Chime in on Teaching Woodworking during a Pandemic

A student of Tremper High School, Kenosha, WI, measures a board. The woodworking class is using WCA measurement training materials and quizzes.

Survey sheds light on how WCA EDUcation instructors are adjusting to their roles.

How are high school woodworking instructors coping with the unprecedented challenges of teaching their students during the COVID-19 crisis? How many are teaching courses in the classroom this fall versus remote? And depending on whether they are able to conduct classes face-to-face or online, what is the focus of their lesson plans?

These are some of the questions that the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America sought to answer in a recent survey of EDUcation member instructors. The study represented a follow up to a survey the WCA conducted in the spring shortly after the vast majority of the high schools abruptly shut down and pivoted to online learning due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The number of valid responses generated by the survey – 24 out of a possible 135 – is insufficient to draw any solid statistical conclusions. But the anecdotal responses speak volumes about the kinds of issues high school woodworking instructors are faced with and some of the things they are doing to best play the cards that they’ve been dealt.

A handful of the instructors were willing to be quoted by name and a few of them were gracious enough to send photos illustrating some of their students’ woodworking assignments. At the conclusion of this article are some of the longer responses garnered by follow-up questions to some of the instructors who went on the record.

Following are some of the Fall survey’s findings, including related comments.

Classroom vs. Online Instruction
Fifty percent of the high schools were fully open, though some had adopted A/B day scheduling to limit access to their woodshops to half of the enrolled students at a time. Additionally, 32% of the schools had adopted a hybrid model with some in-person and some online learning. Eighteen percent of respondents said their schools were closed with half saying they were teaching exclusively online and half saying they were not teaching woodworking this fall.

“Even though we are fully open, some students have chosen to do the same class virtually. I’m struggling with how to do the hands-on woodworking virtually.”

“I have students in class and online simultaneously,”

Woodworking Course Enrollments
Forty-six percent of the instructors said they have 41 or more students in their courses this fall. Another 46% said they have 11 to 30 students while the remainder are not teaching woodshop this semester.

In comparison, half said their current enrollment is about the same as Fall 2019. Thirty-six percent said they have fewer woodworking students and 14% said they have more students this fall than last.

Online Collaboration Platforms
Google Meet/Hangouts is being used by 59% of the respondents for online instruction. Zoom with 32% is the second most popular collaboration platform.

Use of WCA Online Training Resources
The WCA maintains a library of videos and other training materials for the exclusive use of EDUcation and MANufacturing members.

Fifty-five percent of the woodworking instructors said they are integrating WCA resources into their fall 2020 curricula.

Woodworking machinery demonstration videos created by Patrick Molzahn, director of cabinetmaking and millwork at Madison College, are the most often cited resource that are being accessed.

“The online evaluator training is helpful, as our Patrick Molzahn’s videos and WCA instructor files.”

“I’ve had students read some of the articles in Fine Woodworking.”

A student of Reed-Custer High School in Braidwood, IL, works on a cabinet.

“I have downloaded various docs and assignments to help guide (my students) through the second semester.”

The survey also asked woodworking instructors to recommend the types of instructional materials they would like the WCA to add to its library. Topping the list of asks were videos related to machinery, power tool and general shop safety.

Other requested educational materials include:

“More combination-type projects that involve using several different tools for teaching students how to use.”

“Demonstration videos geared toward showing students various types of joinery – mortise and tenon, dovetail, rabbets, etc.”

“We need some type of online virtual machine training,” suggested one respondent. “Just like a video game except for woodworking machinery. Log in and operate a piece of machinery like you do on a video game using a weapon or door to navigate a landscape.”

Teaching Woodworking Online
It goes without saying that it’s hard to teach high school students woodworking when they can’t get the hands-on experience in the school’s woodshop. So, what are teachers doing with their online instruction? A few examples:

“We are working on a video platform where we record lessons that I do in the shop.”

“We have access to the woodshop at this time but if we lose access I will be using more of Patrick Molzahn’s checklists and videos.”

“Pretty much everything is online. We are able for several students at a time to meet face-to-face and get some shop experience.”

“Students online will be meeting knowledge standards through creative assignments such as creating videos and blogs.”

“We are working in the shop, but woodworking videos are assigned.”

“While virtual is not an ideal form of teaching a ‘craft’ that is so experiential, there is still a passion that can be felt while watching someone who is immersed in doing what they love. That will be my aim in teaching this semester.

Parting Words
“It’s very tough and the shop experience is not there for the majority of my students.

“I can’t wait for my classes to meet in person again.”


Five Longer Takes on Teaching
Woodworking These Days


“I have 24 students in the shop this semester compared to 42 last semester. Students had a choice between meeting face to face or virtually for academic classes but not for my woodworking classes. My two level 1 classes are just learning tool use and safety. They have made some succulent planter boxes, a wall plaque and just completed a kitchen shelf. Our next project will be a spice rack. My level 2 class just completed a dog kennel for a local K-9 officer and are now working on adirondack chairs and corn hole boards which we sell as a fundraiser.” – Nick Daniels, skilled trades instructor and SkillsUSA advisor, Avery County High School, Newland, NC

“About half of our students chose to be total remote learners. The rest of the students were split into 2 groups A & B. That leaves me on average about 5 or 6 students per class face-to-face. I have to put everything online for my total remote students who follow what we are doing face-to-face. The only difference is that my face-to-face students get access to the shop for only 70 minutes at a time, twice a week. My level 1 students are building a small, milking stool that allows the students access to the table saw, radial arm saw, planer, jointer and scroll saw. Also, the students get to assemble this stool with glue and our pneumatic tools. My level 2 students are working on their OSHA certification now.”  – Doug Talbert, woodworking instructor, Albemarle High School, Albemarle, NC

Students at Albemarle High School of Albemarle, NC, are making milking stools this fall.

“We are currently face-to-face but and our students are adapting well to protocols for cleaning and mask wearing. But we are beginning to see schools in neighboring counties closing due to COVID-19 cases. Just in case, I am moving from our furniture/cabinetry curriculum to carpentry. This will allow something ‘new and exciting’ that we don’t typically do to have some hands-on projects at home. We have had donations from a construction company directed to online curriculum and modeling supplies to build models. I will also be offering the opportunity to self-motivated kids to build scale model furniture if they so choose, which will require them to get an approved learning plan with me. We also just received a grant for a maple syrup program I’ve been working on that has allotted $7,500 to build a sap shack. WCA standards will still be applied. Wisconsin has a Construction Career Pathway that recognizes WCA certification so I will still reinforce any WCA content I am able to. Here is where the virtual situation may benefit us in regard to WCA, I tend to lean so hard on hands on and getting the kids in the shop that I often lack in the “book work” end of the requirements I need to successfully get kids certified. I’m hoping that this allows me to do a better job at getting kids their WCA Sawblade certification.” – Roger Peterson, woodworking instructor, Hurley High School, Hurley, WI

“I have some students in person and some who opted for at-home schooling who are learning the same thing. The “knowledge content” required is identical but how it is demonstrated will be different. For example, in class they will build a birdhouse and demonstrate the ability to build. Online they will be given documentation and watch the house being built and then be required to explain how to build. The online project essentially becomes a how-to video, blog, etc. A test will cover the content of each unit will be done by both groups. I downloaded the WCA’s docs and assignments for teaching measuring for my second semester students to get the PMI measuring certification. In class, students just finished safety lessons are will build Little Free Libraries that a local non-profit called Garden of Eatin’ requested we build for them.” – AJ Mueller, technology educator instructor, Tremper High School, Kenosha, WI

“I currently have six classes each with about 15 students per week and we have full-time access to the shop. Among our projects, we’re making long boards, acoustic guitars and kitchen cabinets. I’m using Patrick Molzahn’s videos and online checklists and I’ll be using them even more if we lose use of the shop. I have created Google Forms to pre-test students on all of the machines and information necessary so that students can then take the written online exam to earn their WCA Sawblade certificates.” – Mark Smith, industrial technology teacher, Reed-Custer High School, Braidwood, IL


Woodwork Career Alliance Benefit Auction Goes Virtual at IWF Connect

Jimmy Buffet signed guitar

NELLYSFORD, Va. – An auction supporting the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America during IWF Connect will not only be silent, it will be 100 percent virtual.

More than 130 items, including autographed sports items, framed artwork, jewelry and exclusive destination get-a-way packages, will be put up for bid during IWF Connect, a virtual tradeshow and conference for the woodworking industry taking place Oct. 26-30. Net proceeds of the fundraiser will benefit the WCA’s ongoing efforts to develop and grow a skilled woodworking workforce.

The not-for-profit WCA’s woodworking skill standards and credentialing Passport system are used by high school and postsecondary woodworking programs throughout the United States and Canada. In addition, a growing number of woodworking companies are joining the WCA to craft their training programs around the WCA’s workforce development tools.

The virtual auction is being orchestrated by Expo Auctions of Sugar Hill, GA. It will include:

  • Jimmy Buffett signed guitar.
  • Jeremy Bulloch signed Star Wars Boba Fett Disney collector’s edition mask.
  • 7mm white freshwater pearl necklace (85-inch length).
  • Drive Your Dream Car on a Racetrack, three-night stay at a 4-Star Las Vegas Strip hotel for two.
  • Two-night stay in Albuquerque, NM, with Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride for two.
  • Signed sports items by Rocket Ishmail, Notre Dame; Calvin Johnson, Georgia-Tech; Amari Cooper, Alabama; Emmitt Smith, Florida; DaShaun Watson, Houston Texans; and many more.
  • Framed collages commemorating the Kansas City Chiefs 2020 Super Bowl Champions, Harry Potter book series, 50 years of Masters’ Champions, Pink Floyd, the Beatles, and more.
  • Plus, bourbon collections, framed art by Thomas Kinkade and much more.

Jeremy Bulloch signed Star Wars Boba Fett Disney collector’s edition mask

In addition to bid items, the virtual auction will include a Donate to the WCA button.

As Easy as 1, 2, 3
To participate in the virtual auction and review all auction items:

  1. Register to attend IWF Connect for free then access the auction by visiting Expo Auction’s booth.
  2. Register your mobile phone number, email and name.
  3. Bidding closes at 9 p.m. EST Oct. 30 after the conclusion of IWF Connect.
    Text notifications will be sent to the winning bidders. Payment will be due upon the close of the auction. Shipping is included in the winning bid price to the lower contiguous 48 states.

“IWF has been a tremendous supporter of the Woodwork Career Alliance over the years,” said Scott Nelson, WCA president. “We sincerely appreciate that the WCA has been designated to receive the net proceeds of this fun fundraising program. This will help us enlist more schools and credential more students and professionals.”

Learn more about the WCA. its skill standards and credentialing programs by visiting the WCA’s booth at

7mm white freshwater pearl necklace

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 300 woodworking machine operations. In addition, WCA has issued more than 3,000 credentials, a portable, personal permanent record documenting each holder’s record of woodworking skill achievements. More than 130 high schools and post-secondary schools throughout North America are WCA EDUcation™ members and a growing number of woodworking companies have joined the WCA as MANufacturing™ members. To learn more about the WCA and how to get involved with its programs, including sponsorship opportunities, visit

Video: Woodworking for Warriors Program Supports Veterans

The Sam Beauford Woodworking Institute (SBWI) of Adrian, MI, operates the Woodworking for Warriors program, a free resource for area veterans. The program helps veterans build skills and confidence by creating works in the primary medium of wood. In the video, Luke Barnett, director of the SBWI, said the program has 135 veteran members and is still growing.

SBWI is an EDUcation member of the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America.

Read related article: Sam Beauford Woodworking Institute Branches Out.

WCA’s Online Training Resource Library Worth Checking Out

Among the many benefits of being a member of the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America is having free 24/7 access to a treasure trove of training materials and teaching aids maintained on the WCA’s website.

The WCA’s Training Resource library includes lesson plans, instructor notes and videos related to machining operations common to most high school and postsecondary woodshops. The password-protected library is only accessible to current EDUcation and MANufacturing members.

Patrick Molzahn, program director of the Cabinetmaking & Millwork Program at Madison College, added dozens of new videos and updated instructional materials to the library that he created this past summer. Among them is the planer demonstration video included above and this related Planer Learning Plan.

“These were COVID-19 created because I knew the program here at Madison College was going to be a hybrid format this fall with some instruction in the shop and some online.” Molzahn said. “I created videos of my demonstrations because of the difficulty of having students crowd around a machine due to social distancing rules. I made more than three dozen demonstration videos. They were minimally produced compared to earlier videos I produced that were highly scripted and edited.”

Links to the new the videos are embedded in related learning plan documents that Molzahn updated for his courses that he shared with the library.

“I require my students to print the learning plan. This is their direction for a step-by-step learning process. It typically starts with reading Modern Cabinetmaking and goes down through viewing a worksheet or presentation and has links to the videos I created.

“These videos are not available on YouTube,” Molzahn added. “Only my students and people who have access to the WCA library can view them.”

For example, the “Boring” folder in the WCA Training Resources includes eight documents on Drill Presses and five documents on Portable Drills & Drivers.

Boring is but one of seven training operation folders in the library. Other topics include:

  • Layout and Measurement
  • Sawing
  • Milling
  • Shaping
  • Sanding
  • SkillsUSA Plan Archives

“For drills and drivers, we have an information sheet in a PDF and a Word Doc so that a teacher can edit it easily.” Molzahn said. “Everything starts with a learning plan. Each of these was updated to include the new demonstration video. What’s also new is that I added my teaching notes. These have been developed over 20 years of teaching. If you are a new teacher looking for a place to start, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You can take my teaching notes and tailor them based on your specific machine or need.”

Contributions to the WCA Training Resources Library Welcome
While the majority of resources in the library were “donated” by Molzahn, additional materials have trickled in. “The true vision is that this will become a collection of best practices and materials from teachers all over North America,” Molzahn said.

“I initially posted videos and instructional guides that I thought represented a good start, particularly for the Sawblade certificate evaluation,” Molzahn said. “Slowly we’re starting to see some things trickle in from other schools, though not as fast as I would like. I always felt teachers kind of work in our silos and do our own thing. But I know we could all get a lot further if more instructors chipped in and shared some of their best instructional resources on specific machines and operations.”

As two top-top-of mind examples, Molzahn said he would like to see more content on moulder training and woodworking software added to the library. “There’s a lot of need and request for moulder instruction by the industry. In addition, while we don’t really address software in the WCA skill standards, I know a lot of teachers would find software training materials useful.

Molzahn invites woodworking instructors to submit materials to the library by contacting him at

“I think COVID has kind of put us into a situation where we have to make the best use of these resources and it’s opening doors rather than closing doors.” Molzahn said. “I think it’s giving us some new opportunities and forcing people to be a little more creative on how they solve problems. They’re learning that the tougher things are, there can be positive things that result from it.”

Join the Conversation on the WCA Members Forum

Start or join a conversation on the new WCA EDU Members Forum.

The forum is accessible to all WCA EDUcation and MANufacturing members in good standing.

This is your opportunity to share ideas with or seek advice from your peers throughout North America.

For example:

  • What’s the best online sharing platform for teaching students woodworking online?
  • Who has developed new curricula for instructing and training programs that they would be willing to share?
  • How do you integrate independent learning into your program for more advanced students?

Got questions? Get answers from fellow woodworking instructors.

Start or join the conversation.





11 AWI Scholarship Winners Enroll in WCA EDUcation Woodworking Programs

Eleven of the 13 students recently awarded scholarships by the Architectural Woodwork Institute’s Education Foundation (AWIEF) already are or plan to enroll at colleges belonging to the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America.

The AWIEF awarded $25,250 in scholarships in May to students preparing for careers in the wood industry. The foundation received a record number of secondary school applicants in the history of the scholarship program.

“The nominee must be either currently entered in a woodworking program or entering one in the fall, and he/she must submit an application as well as an academic recommendation from their school advisor and a personal reference from an employer, academic counselor or other instructor,” said Kent Gilchrist, AWIEF chair. “A letter of reference from the student’s advisor is required as is one from the applicant explaining and clarifying how the funds will be used and how the scholarship will contribute to his/her entry into the architectural woodwork field.”

Nine students received $2,500 scholarships and four received $1,250. Seven of the students will hone their wood industry talents at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, KS. In addition to PSU, other WCA EDUcation member schools who will train scholarship winners for wood industry career are Madison Area Technical College of Madison, WI, with two scholarship winners and Fox Valley Technical College of Oshkosh, WI, and New England School of Architectural Woodworking of Easthampton, with one student each.

Read more about the AWIEF scholarship program in June 2020 AWI News Briefs: Foundation Efforts Gain Good Grades!

WCA Updates Training Resources Available to Members

NELLYSFORD, Va. — New videos, checklists and other resources have been added to the online library of training resources maintained by the Woodwork Career Alliance of North America.

These resources are available 24/7 to current EDUcation and INDustry members of the WCA. In addition to videos, the library includes educational materials that can be used to facilitate in-person or online instruction.

The new resources were contributed by Patrick Molzahn, Madison College instructor and author of Modern Cabinetmaking. Molzahn has also shared teaching notes assembled from his more than 20-year career as a post-secondary woodworking instructor.

The training library’s resources span materials that cover all of the machines and tools required for students to earn their Sawblade Certificate plus resources applicable to developing or updating a professional training program.

Members in good standing can access the WCA training resources at You will need to log in to access the materials.

If you are not currently a WCA member, you can sign up online as an EDUcation or a MANufacturing member, The annual membership dues is only $250.

NOTE: Do you need something not contained in our online library? Just ask and we will look into securing content for your needs. Our vision includes building the most comprehensive database pf instructional resources possible. To this end, if you have learning materials you are proud of and are willing to share with other woodworking instructors, please send them to