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About

The Miller Goodwood Society is a not-for-profit woodworking co-operative. Our aim is to promote and enable safe and rewarding woodworking in a congenial environment.

The co-op began in 1994 when a handful of hobbyists taking night school shop courses and working in cramped garages coalesced to develop a shop to support their passion. We now have 40 hobbyists and two professional members and, over the years, members have created beds, tables, chairs, cabinets, bureaus, bowls, lamps, tables, marimbas, guitars, motorcycle parts, entertainment centres, benches, storage units, cutting boards, picture frames …. to name just a few projects.

In Feb 2014 we moved into a custom-outfitted space near the south end of the Second Narrows Bridge, in Vancouver. We plan to be there beyond 2024.

Our new shop has 3000 sq ft of floor space. It looks like this. Each member has a personal locker with personal storage above it. Shared areas and facilities include work benches, sheet- and long-storage racks, carts for projects in progress, a project assembly area, a finishing room, washrooms, security and parking. There are compressed air and power ports throughout.

Our equipment includes two table saws with sliders, a 20” planer, an edge jointer and edge sander, a chop saw, small and large band saws, two lathes and tools, a drill press, various small tools (mortiser, scroll saw, spindle sander etc.) and various hand tools. Large equipment is connected to an automated dust collection system and small equipment to a portable dust collection unit.

The shop is accessible (24/7/365) and members can use all equipment and tools for which they are competent. Basic instruction is available for safety purposes but we do not teach woodworking and new members must have woodworking experience.

You will have read at the outset that we’re a co-op. We’re registered as such with the Province of British Columbia, and it’s how we manage ourselves and get everything done. We’re all participants and all volunteers in the ongoing operations and success of the co-op. Every member is responsible for keeping their space tidy, the shop safe and clean, maintaining equipment in good running order, and, when needed, pitching in for a work parties to tackle larger projects such as installing new equipment, fixing a door, replacing lights, or whatever.

Our executive is also voluntary and it’s elected from the membership. They provide guidance, look after finances and administration, spearhead initiatives, and keep the co-op running smoothly. Co-op members are expected to assist the executive whenever and however they can and, eventually, to serve on the executive.

It’s important to emphasize that Miller Goodwood is a co-op of hobbyists (95% of our members), not professionals. We work on projects for our own pleasure and use, not for business, clients or compensation. If a member wants to make a small project as, say, a gift, or for barter or sale, the project’s scope, duration and shop-impact must be limited, and a portion of the assessed value is payable to the co-op.

We do have two professional members and they provide invaluable shop support and control. Their fees, duties and responsibilities are very different from hobbyists, and their membership is subject to Board approval.

Membership fees for hobbyists consist of an entry fee of $400 which acknowledges the vast cost and effort that current and past members have invested in the shop, and a monthly fee of $75 that pays the rent and other bills. We hold an AGM yearly and surplus revenue, if any, can go towards new shop equipment/tools items, to in-house social events and woodworking demos (free to all members), or to any activity that will foster our community, creativity and better woodworking.

At 44 members, we’ve reached our maximum comfortable community size. Our annual turn-over is approximately 4-5 members and we replace them from a waiting list of candidates. For us, an ideal member is someone who is enthusiastic about woodworking, has woodworking experience, can and does work safely, is respectful and considerate of people and equipment, understands how a co-op works and wants to contribute to our success, and will enrich our community through skills, knowledge, attitude and other means.

If you see these traits in yourself and would like to join us then please send me (Bob) an email (r_bowden@shaw.ca) with your name, tel # and a short description of your woodworking/co-op interests/experience. Please note that our waiting list is, unfortunately, fairly long at the moment but we hope that your interest in woodworking and Miller Goodwood is considerably longer. (If you email me I’ll respond with the current queue length).

Use the email address above, too, if you have questions. Short questions are best because I’d rather spend my time woodworking, not emailing. I’ll try to respond promptly.

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13 Comments
  1. Blake Anderson permalink

    I’m looking for some contact information on your website. I am interested in joining the co-op but i cant seem to find much about where it is or who to talk to. Thanks. Blake

  2. Penny Wedd permalink

    Hi there

    I would really like to join your group. I am trying to build urns and don’t necessarily want to use part of my garage to set up a workshop. How do I join your group please?

  3. Greg Mills permalink

    Hello,

    I am going to be starting a small table top project as a surprise for my wife. I will have 4-5 reclaimed Douglas Fir boards that will require a bit of jointer and plainer work. As I don’t have access to tools such as this, is there a way I can pay a one time fee for use of this equipment(I do have previous experience- though many moons ago), or is there a hobbyist within your co-op that would be willing to take on this small project for me? I appreciate your consideration and your time.

    • Hi Greg,
      We have a professional woodworker, Rick Labrin, in our shop who could handle the project. You can see more of his work on our website. We do not offer drop-in woodworking opportunities for hobbyists because of liability issues. Our insurance coverage extends for members only. The other option for you would be to look at drop-in times at the Roundhouse Community Center. They have a small, tidy and nicely equipped shop for hobbyist use available at affordable hourly rates.

  4. lisa permalink

    this sounds awesome, do you know of any similar shops in the valley?

  5. Reduce Reuse permalink

    Hello I have question for you. I work for the city of Vancouver and there is wood on the beach that gets composed on a daily bases. I am wondering if there is interest in the coop to renting a flatbed truck and salvageing the available wood. Please call Brian Quinn at 604-257-8521 or Jeff Whitehead at 604-257-8527 of Vancouver park board or the mayor

  6. There are no other similar shops in the valley, unfortunately. There are other places for hobbyists to do woodworking in Vancouver: VSB courses, the Roundtable Community Center and other for-profit locations. But, as far as a co-op is concerned… nope.
    If you are interested, please look over our Co-Op Orientation Package in “The Shop” section above to find out more information about how we work and how we came about. If you need more support to start your own woodworking co-op, this is a place to start!

  7. Jeff Seaborn permalink

    Hi I am looking to pay someone to run a few board through a planer and one edge on the joiner. is this something that one of your members might be interested in. I am a hobbyist and have a small woodshop minus joiner/planer. I am trying to make a gift for my honey with some beautiful birdseye maple and walnut. Maybe you could suggest someone if not

  8. Hello!

    My name is Danielle Soucie. I live and work in nelson, BC. I am a graduate of the fine woodworking program. Myself and 2 other alumni are in the works of starting up a similar operation to yours in that we hope to create a space for hobbyists, students and woodworkers alike to create and expand their craft. I would love to come view your shop and speak with someone about your co-op. Please let me know if this is something you’re willing to do.

    All the best,
    Danielle

    • Absolutely! We have had other inquiries over the years about setting up other shops on the island or in the interior. We want to encourage anyone with a love of woodworking to pursue their hobby. We would be happy to meet with you and show you the shop. Please contact D_Stoelting@hotmail.com to set up a time.

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