02 – WCA Memberships

There are four types of memberships in the WCA; below are short descriptions of each.  Please review each membership type, but pay close attention to the type(s) of memberships that apply to you…

Individual Membership

For Students, Teachers, and Employees…

The Individual Membership is for teachers, students, or company employees who want to participate in the WCA certification process as either a candidate or as an evaluator. Students typically join through a WCA EDUcation member school and employees through a WCA MANufacturing member company, although either may also join as an individual not affiliated with a member school or company. As an evaluator, you may not perform assessments on anyone who doesn’t yet have an Individual Membership.

Cost: $55

Everyone who wants to participate in the WCA in any way needs to first obtain an Individual Membership.

EDUcation Membership

For Schools – The first step to credentialing students…

Designed for secondary and post‐secondary woodworking training programs. The EDUcation membership allows a school to begin certifying students using the WCA’s tool skill standards. In addition to student certification, benefits include the Essentials Benefits Package, which are free tools, material, software, and classes donated by industry vendors on a yearly basis and access to free training resources that can help augment a school curriculum.

Two important things to note: Instructors must be Individual Members and affiliated with an EDUcation member school before applying to become an Accredited Skill Evaluator and students must be affiliated with an EDU Member school in order to pursue a certification or credential.

The membership runs from July 1st through June 30th of each year. (Schools subscribing between March 1 and July 1 get up to FOUR months free membership, ending June 30 the following year). Please review the important dates on the EDU Calendar if you are working to become an EDU Evaluator.

Cost: $250/yr.

MANufacturing Membership

The WCA MANufacturing™ membership is designed for forward-thinking wood manufacturing firms to evaluate, recognize, and reward employees. The MANufacturing membership allows employers to have one or more of their employees trained as in-house evaluators. Benefits include customization of the program to fit a company’s needs including development of new skill standards to match their equipment as well as access to free training resources that can help augment in house training programs.

Important Note: In-house Evaluators may evaluate any of the member company’s employees who have an Individual Membership, but the results are not officially entered in the registry until an on-site audit of the results is performed by the WCA. However, if the same Evaluator assesses candidates who are employees of another company or students at an EDUcation member school, the results are immediately active.

The membership runs for one year from the date of purchase.

Cost: $250/yr.

INDustry Sponsor

The INDustry Sponsor program allows manufacturers and distributors of woodworking machinery and supplies and other industry stakeholders to support the WCA and woodworking education. There are many schools and students who want to participate in the WCA credentialing program but are unable to do so because of financial limitations.

The annual Silver Sponsorship of $250 will help defray the program cost for the school of the sponsor’s choice that they would like to support. If they don’t have a particular school in mind, the sponsorship will help schools and/or students that have expressed a need.

Gold Sponsorship packages are available for $1,000 to companies who would like to contribute more to support WCA workforce development initiatives. Company logos of Gold sponsors are included on the WCA’s website and featured in the WCA’s Pathways e-newsletter for one year.

Click here if you’re interested in learning more about the WCA INDustry™ Sponsor program and benefits of each package.

06 – Sawblade Certificate

This lesson is important for all educators, but particularly for those at secondary or post-secondary programs where the students are not able to accumulate 800 hours of classroom and/or work experience during the program. It may also be of interest to some employers as a “starter” credential for newer employees.

When the WCA first started offering credentials, the Green Level credential was the first one that a candidate could earn. However, at 800 experience hours, that put it out of reach for many students, particularly at the high school level. While students at some schools were able to accumulate 800 hours over their academic career, many were not. In addition, the added cost of Assessment Credits to reach 30 Skill Points can also be a barrier for many high school students. Many of these same schools, however, wanted to participate in the WCA.

To facilitate this, the WCA created the Sawblade Certificate which allows students to participate in the skills testing, and along with a written quiz, provides a path to a certificate recognizing their achievement.  If, in the future, a student who has earned a Sawblade Certificate moves on to work for a WCA member company or attends a member post-secondary school, they can build on what they’ve already accomplished to earn a full Green level credential.


To participate, a student’s school must become an EDUcation™ member and have at least one instructor trained as an Accredited Skill Evaluator (ASE).

To earn the Sawblade Certificate, a candidate must pass the Prerequisite Layout and Measurement operations detailed in the previous lesson, earn 10 skill points (consuming 10 assessment credits), and pass an online 40 question written quiz.

However, unlike the other WCA Credentials, the Sawblade Certificate prescribes a specific set of Tool Operations (shown below) that the student must be assessed on. These tools were selected because they represent a range of skills and are tools commonly found in most high school wood shops. In the event you do not have one of these tools, you may propose a substitute Tool Operation to your Chief Evaluator for their approval in your school only.

Sawblade Required Tool Operations

  • Jointer – Edge jointing 1st Edge
  • Table Saw – Ripping
  • Table Saw – Edge rabbet/single blade or dado set
  • Portable Hand Sander – Sand solid lumber
  • Drill Press – Drill holes to specified location and depth

Note that each Individual Membership comes with 10 free assessment credits, which means there is no additional cost for the candidate to pursue a Sawblade Certificate.

Assessing the Sawblade Certificate

Assessing the Tool Operations for the Sawblade Certificate is no different from performing assessments for any other credential. The big difference is that there is an online written quiz required to qualify for the certificate. The quiz consists of 40 random questions and the candidate must achieve a score of 80% or better to pass. The test questions and answer key can be found in the Evaluator Documents and Forms under the Evaluator menu on this website in a folder called Sawblade Quickstart. You should review the questions to make sure the appropriate material to pass the test is being covered in your curriculum.

The candidate must log into the website before being given access to access the quiz; they should have received a temporary password via email after purchasing the Individual Membership. However, if they have misplaced their password, they can use the “Forgot Password” function on the login page to reset their password.

Results of the assessments for the Tool Operations are entered in the Registry as normal.  For your convenience, there is an assessment group already setup in the Registry with the required Tool Operations for you to use. This process is covered in the Registry videos that you will watch later in your training. However, the online quiz results will not show up in the Registry; the results will be emailed to the WCA and we will verify that the candidate passed before issuing the certificate. The candidate will also have the opportunity to print a certificate with their results when the pass the quiz, which they shouldsubmit to you so that you are aware of their score. If they fail the quiz, they will be allowed to take it again until they pass.

Very Important Note:

Do not enter the candidate’s assessment results into the Registry until they have passed the online test.


05 – Prerequisite Assessments

Before a candidate is eligible to be assessed on any machinery, they must pass a specific set of Prerequisite assessments from the Layout and Measurement category. The list of required assessments is:

No other assessments should be performed until the candidate has passed all of the above up to level 2, where applicable. In fact, the Registry will not allow any other assessment results to be entered until the Prerequisites are marked as passed. These assessments do not consume any Assessment Credits and they don’t result in earning Skill Points. The prerequisite assessments come with the purchase of an Individual Membership, and the Registry is aware of the list of prerequisites. This makes it easy to pass a candidate by simply looking them up in the Registry and marking them as having passed all prerequisites. You’ll learn how to do this later in the Registry module.

You can review the full list of Layout and Measurement operations here

Assessing the Prerequisite Operations

Figure 1 – Measurement Widget

As the Evaluator, you are free to assess the prerequisite operations any way that works well for you as long as you cover all of the requirements. However, the WCA has created some widgets that make it easier to administer these assessments. The vast majority of Evaluators are using these widgets, and a growing number of companies use them during their interview process to assess the baseline knowledge of applicants. The advantages of using these exercises are that they encourage a more standardized way of performing the assessment across the country and it relieves you from having to develop a process of your own. We highly recommend taking advantage of these standard assessment widgets. Both use worksheets which can be obtained from the Evaluator Documents and Forms page on the website under the Evaluators Menu. You’ll find them in a folder called “Widgets”

Measurement Widget

The Measurement Widget is shown in Figure 1 and can either be purchased on the WCA Marketplace or made yourself by requesting the CAD files from the WCA and milling them on a CNC. Figure 2 below shows the accompanying worksheet that the candidate uses to mark their answers on. It is typically made from MDF or a phenolic material so that it remains as dimensionally stable as possible. Note that the prerequisites require the tape measure to be assessed with both Imperial and Metric measurements, so you should have the candidate write all measurements in both formats. Make sure the candidate understands that they are to measure using both an Imperial and Metric tape and not do a mathematical conversion of their measurements.

The Caliper measurements should be done using a digital caliper and the angles should be measured using a protractor. Additionally, one of the required assessments is to verify material squareness. The typical way to do this is to cut a piece of wood or MDF with one end square and the other end slightly out of square. The candidate checks the piece and identifies which end was out of square.

One of our Chief Evaluators, Patrick Molzahn, has created a series of videos on the various measurement and layout tools and techniques that you can view here. These videos can be used with your students or employees to help them brush up on proper usage and techniques, especially in relation to the calipers which many people are unfamiliar with. It may be that you yourself are not as familiar with the calipers and some of the other techniques as you’d like to be, in which case you may want to review the videos yourself.

Important Caliper Note: Given the fact that we’re measuring materials that can expand or shrink seasonally or with temperature, and that calipers are sensitive to the amount of pressure used when doing the measurement, no two people will get the exact same measurement down to .001″, or even the same person doing it twice. So, what you’re looking for in this exercise is that they are close to the target measurement. We hesitate to give a tolerance, but it should be obvious to you that the candidate is measuring the correct thing and that they are consistently close to the correct measurements.

Layout Widget

The Layout Widget Worksheet is shown in Figure 3 below. You will prepare a 4″ x 11-1/2″ blank (typically MDF for easy marking) that the candidate will use during the exercise. They must mark out what is shown on the worksheet on to the blank you give them. Neatness counts, as does accuracy.

The most common difficulty that candidates have is making the distances equal between the 3/4″ spaces on the front side, so check that carefully. There are many ways to do this layout as long as it comes out within tolerance. Patrick Molzahn has created a video showing how to do this using dividers and no math; you can view it here and use it as an educational tool for yourself or others. Note that the line 2″ in from the end wraps all the way around the piece. The idea is to use a square to layout each line, using the end of each previous line as a starting point for the line on the adjacent face. The main assessment criteria is that the line is exactly 2″ from the end and all of the lines connect to each other exactly. To complete the exercise, the candidate will lay out the angled lines on the back using a protractor and draw the mortise on the edge of the piece using the given dimensions.

Figure 2 – Measurement Widget Worksheet

Figure 3 – Layout Widget Worksheet

04 – The Skill Standards

The Skill Standards are the heart of the WCA Credentialing program. It is important that all Skill Evaluators have a thorough understanding of the standards that they will be assessing candidates on. Not only is it important to understand the content of the standards, but also the philosophy behind them…

A key difference between the WCA Credentialing program and other professional credentials is that the WCA Credentials are is observation based. Evaluators watch candidates perform an operation on a tool and assess them against the written standards. This presented a special challenge in terms of creating a set of standards that allowed an evaluator to objectively measure a candidate’s ability on the tool; they were required to be observable and measurable. This means the Skill Evaluator must have a deep knowledge of the Tool Operations that they will be evaluating. Most operations are performed very quickly, with no time to read through the standard while watching an operation being performed, which means the Skill Evaluator must have a deep enough knowledge of the operation that they instantly know whether the standard has been violated. In order to maintain the integrity of the entire credentialing process, it is incumbent on each Skill Evaluator to only assess operations in which s/he has the experience to do so.

Skill Standards Overview

The standards are tool oriented, but given the large number of tools, they are categorized by the type of tool (i.e. Layout, Milling, Sawing, Boring, Finishing, etc.), as shown in the graphic on the right (click to enlarge). Each tool is broken down into a number of discrete operations. For example, the Tablesaw has quite a few Operations, such as Ripping, Narrow Rip, Mitering, Beveling, Cross Cutting, etc. Each operation can have two possible levels:

Level 1 is Output oriented.

Entry level skills. This person would be able to safely produce wood parts using machines and tools that are set-up and ready for them.  They can produce parts to specification, but are not expected to have in-depth knowledge of the tools or machines they are using. Safe working procedures are stressed here.

Level 2 is Setup oriented.

Intermediate skill level. A woodworker at this level will have greater knowledge of the machines and tools they are using and are expected to complete their own setups and tool preparation. Given plans and specs, they will be able to select and use jigs and fixtures and use appropriate materials to complete the task.

Note: More complex operations may not have a Level 1 because an entry level person would not be expected to be able to perform the operation. An example of this is a narrow rip on the tablesaw.

(beyond Level 2) Machine Specialist and Area Specialist.

This person has advanced skills on a specific category of machinery. The final criteria for this Certificate are currently being developed. The objective is to reward a person with in-depth knowledge about a specific machine or set of machines.

Relation of Skill Points to Levels

Each level of every Tool Operation qualifies for a Skill Point. A candidate assessed only on the Level 1 criteria will spend one Assessment Credit and earn one Skill Point. However, a candidate who is assessed at Level 2 on an operation will have to pass both the level 1 and level 2 criteria and will spend two Assessment Credits and earn two Skill Points.

Where are the Standards?

A bound copy of the full set of Skill Standards is available for purchase at the WCA online Marketplace. However, when evaluating candidates, it’s more convenient to use the relevant Assessment Forms which we will explore in the topics below. When your organization joins the WCA as an EDU or MANufacturing member, the person purchasing the membership will be able to log into the WCA website and access the Evaluator Documents and Forms where you can download all of the assessment forms for all tool operations in PDF format. This is why it is important that the person who is going to be the in house Skill Evaluator purchase the EDU or MANufacturing membership each year under their own account so that they have access to all documents and training materials.

A Living Document

It’s very important to note that the Skill Standards are intended to be a living document, in other words, they are always evolving as new tools/operations are added, but also if new or better approaches are developed for existing standards. We encourage you, as a Skill Evaluator, to volunteer to help write new standards if you have specific expertise on a new tool, or if you have suggested changes to an existing standard. The WCA is always on the lookout for individuals to help shape the standards as we move forward.


11 – The Next Steps

Maintaining Status

Activity reports are reviewed by the Evaluations Committee annually. Skill Evaluators who have not performed at least one operational evaluation on a minimum of four different candidates over the course of one calendar year may be placed on conditional leave. They are contacted by their Chief Evaluator via phone or in person to determine if there are extenuating circumstances that prevented or hampered evaluations during that year.

After the personal conversation, the Chief Evaluator makes a determination on the Evaluator’s status or seeks the advice the Evaluation Committee. The Skill Evaluator is either returned to active status or placed on inactive status. An inactive evaluator may return to active status by completing an online qualification exam or attending an F2F training day and successfully completing either with a score of 80% or better.

Becoming a Chief Evaluator

Skill Evaluators desiring to become a Chief Evaluator may petition the Board of Chiefs (Evaluations Committee). From time to time that group may reach out to established Skill Evaluators asking them to consider the role of Chief.

Criteria for elevation to Chief Evaluator shall be established by the Evaluation Committee.

The Board of Chief Evaluators (Evaluations Committee) considers petitions annually and appoints those deemed worthy.

Curriculum Resources

In addition to the WCA Training Resources, we highly recommend the following textbook for integration into your curriculum or training program.

Modern Cabinetmaking, 5th ed. – Text, Lab Workbook, Instructor’s Resource CD, Instructor’s Presentations CD

Modern Cabinetmaking is a comprehensive text that focuses on the techniques used by custom cabinetmakers and advanced wood manufacturers. Goodheart-Willcox publishes these materials and keeps them current. This edition has been updated and edited by WCA Board Member Patrick Molzahn, Cabinetmaking & Millwork Program Director, Madison Area Technical College, 1701 Wright St., Madison, WI 53704

  • The text and workbook correlate to Woodwork Career Alliance standards, ensuring that students gain the skills they need to be successful in industry.
  • Content is organized in a logical sequence, teaching students the design and construction process in a step-by-step manner.
  • Three new chapters have been added for this edition—Cabinetmaking Industry Overview, CNC Machinery, and Sharpening—to support student learning of the latest standards, technology, and techniques.

It can be purchased directly from the publisher, Goodheart-Wilcox, which gives a discount for educational institutions, on the WCA marketplace, or on Amazon.

Next Steps

To complete Part 1 of your training, take the Quiz by clicking on the ASE Online Quiz title below this lesson. Once you have passed the quiz, contact your WCA Training Coordinator for instructions on how to continue your training.

[ ASE Online Quiz ]

13 – Marketing Copy

Evaluators are not assigned to a specific market area/region. Candidates requesting evaluation via the WCA web site using ZIP code search will be directed to Evaluators in their area, but may choose to work with any Accredited Skill Evaluator in the WCA family.

Evaluators may, on their own, canvass their market area for opportunities and may encourage candidates to apply for a Passport and request evaluations from the WCA by enrolling at the WCA website.

When the need for evaluations outstrips or overwhelms an existing Evaluator, s/he may be assigned a smaller market area and/or additional Evaluator(s) may be added to meet the demand.

Evaluators are independent contractors and, as such, set their own fees, reimbursement, hours, and availability. The preparation for and execution of Skill evaluations will vary from place to place. Such time as is necessary to carry out the prescribed steps set forth in the training will be required. Typical operation evaluations take between 10-30 minutes, assuming that the site and the tool/machine is ready.

10 – Evaluator Compensation/Marketing

The majority of WCA Skill Evaluators will be evaluating either their own students or employees within company, in which case, there may be no additional pay or fee for performing the evaluation. However, there may be times when evaluators will need to spend time outside of class or normal work hours to perform a large number of assessments, in which case they may feel the need to charge an additional fee. WCA Evaluators are free to seek out opportunities to perform evaluations for other companies or schools where they may charge for their time. None of these additional fees are paid to the WCA, nor does the WCA receive any percentage of the fees charged; they go entirely to the Evaluator.

Below are some guidelines to keep in mind when dealing with compensation and outside marketing:

  • Evaluators may set any fee structure they feel is market-worthy and equitable, using guidelines from the Handbook and their training. Large, dense metropolitan areas may, for instance, have lower travel costs but higher evaluation rates, whereas larger geographic regions with lower density may experience high travel costs and lower evaluation rates due to standard of living adjustments.
  • Evaluators make their own business agreements with the candidates or companies. They are responsible for invoicing for their services, which may include pre-payment of some portion to assure compliance, and collecting fees from the candidates or the companies.
  • Evaluators do not collect any fees due to the WCA, i.e., Passport and enrollment fees, Skill Standard purchases, tool point assessment credit package purchases, Skill Certificate purchases, or any other items sold by the Program.
  • Evaluators are not assigned to a specific market area/region. Candidates requesting evaluation via the WCA web site using ZIP code search will be directed to Evaluators in their area, but may choose to work with any Accredited Skill Evaluator in the WCA family.
  • When the need for evaluations outstrips or overwhelms an existing Evaluator, s/he may be assigned a smaller market area and/or additional Evaluator(s) may be added to meet the demand.
  • Evaluators are independent contractors and, as such, set their own fees, reimbursement, hours, and availability. The preparation for and execution of Skill evaluations will vary from place to place. Such time as is necessary to carry out the prescribed steps set forth in the training will be required. Evaluations typically take between 10-30 minutes, assuming that the site and the tool/machine is ready.

11 – Notification Process Copy

A section of the WCA website will be set up to manage assessment requests and scheduling. An area of the website now permits Candidates to find Accredited Skill Evaluators (ASE) by entering their ZIP code. This ‘store search’ will return a list of Evaluators within a specified radius of that ZIP code. Clicking on the name brings up details about that ASE.

Evaluators will have the ability to manage their calendar online or note that they evaluate by special arrangement or by appointment. The Candidate can contact the ASE of choice to arrange for assessment.

In the event paper/printed assessment form(s) are used, it is the responsibility of the Evaluator to log in to the WCA Registry and post the result to the candidate’s permanent record within 24 hours of the assessment.

When using the electronic iPad app [coming soon], the data is transferred to the permanent record either immediately during the assessment (when connected to the internet via a hot spot), or the next time the digital device is connected. The Evaluator shall ensure this occurs within 24 hours in any event.

NOTIFICATION OF AWARD :: It is vital that Evaluators tell either their Chief or the WCA office when a candidate accumulates enough Points to earn a Credential. Credentials can only be awarded by Accredited Chief Evaluators or the WCA office upon notice and verification of achievements.

10 – Recording and Tracking Results Copy

SPECIAL NOTE: The WCA Registry is evolving. Some of the features mentioned in this training may not be available in the early stages.

There are two ways to record results of an Evaluation:

A – Using a clipboard with a one-page printed assessment form for each operation. These forms are available from the WCA Box source for download. They should be downloaded and printed in advance of the session based on the Candidate’s requested tools/machines/operations.

B – Using the iPad application [coming soon] which can connect directly to the Candidate’s records in the WCA Registry.

Regardless of the technique used for capturing the results of the observation, the Evaluator shall inform the Candidate of the results immediately upon the conclusion of the assessment.

Upon successful completion of the assessment, the Candidate’s evaluation sheet shall be marked and filed by the Evaluator. The official record is held in the Registry database, not the Assessment Sheets or the Passport.

Within 24 hours of the assessment(s), Evaluators are expected to input the data to the Registry.

If NOT using the iPad app, Log in to the WCA Registry [ cms.woodworkcareer.org ] using your unique user name and password. Under the “Evaluator Tools” choose candidates. Use the search box at the top to find your candidate. Enter the results using the button on the far right.

IMPORTANT :: The registry accepts and enters the data immediately. There is no Undo once the data is saved. Should you enter data incorrectly, please contact the WCA office. We will help you correct the records.

09 – Fair Observation – Code of Ethics Copy

The validity of our program and its Passport and Certificates rests directly on the Evaluation team. Evaluations shall be equally and fairly given, and results accurately recorded on behalf of the Candidate, regardless of age, race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, political affiliation, religion, sexual orientation or veteran status.

A high level of consistency in the interpretation, application, and adjudication of the Skill Standards is vital.

An Evaluator is obliged to observe from a position of clear sight lines without distracting the Candidate or putting oneself in danger.

As a representative of the WCA and an Accredited Skill Evaluator, when you accept the position you are personally subscribing to this Code of Ethics.