New Galloway Ridge residents often experience a sense of relief upon discovering the Woodworkers Shop, having recently moved and in so doing having lost their personal hobby workspace. We do indeed benefit from a well-equipped Woodworkers Shop, used for both tinkering and serious woodworking, and from the camaraderie of fellow woodworkers. This facility is the result of significant contributions, particularly by early residents. The founding of this shop is quite a story!

Before Galloway Ridge was open for business, two friends in Fearrington Village shared a passion for construction activity – in particular, work for the Pittsboro Habitat for Humanity. It has been a pleasure to interview Jan H. and to learn about the early activity that led to organizing woodworkers at Galloway Ridge. Jan had befriended Jim C., who was a dedicated builder for Habitat for Humanity in 1994, when it was a small organization with big ambitions. Jim C. had finished one home on the edge of Pittsboro and recruited his friend Jan H. for additional building. They typically worked on Habitat projects several days a week. Fast forward to 2015 for a heartwarming story about Jim C. When visiting the Arbor, Jim was approached by a young staff member who gave him a big hug and exclaimed, “You built my home!” Indeed, Jim made many contributions.

Jim C. had signed up for residence at Galloway Ridge in 2005 and was concerned that it needed to have a shop for woodworking. Galloway Ridge management allocated a small room for such activity. Jim started soliciting equipment contributions from early residents and soon had a functioning shop. Jan moved to Galloway Ridge a couple of months after Jim, and the woodworking group soon expanded to include Bob H. and John R., as well as others (unfortunately, records have been lost). Jim C. was the first Woodworkers president.

The very small workshop (so small, one couldn’t fit a 4×8 plywood sheet in it) had a deficiency other than its small size. It shared a ventilation system with the kitchen, and the wafting odor of curing varnish and other chemicals wasn’t at all appreciated! The original shop in the main building was packed up and closed in 2010-11. The new building that was to house the woodworking shop was part of the Phase 2 expansion. In April 2012, a large room in the new Maintenance Building was made available for the Woodworkers. John R. led the new workshop transformation, helped by Jim C., Jan H., Bob H., and Bill D.. Soon thereafter, Paul S. donated metal shelves and a number of essential tools such as a stand-up drill press, sanding disk, and (later) the large Delta lathe that is currently in the shop. John R. engineered the elaborate dust collection system still in use. Joe H. and Bryan B. also helped organize the shop, with its many tools and supplies. By the end of 2012, the shop was operational.

Paul S. became president of the Woodworkers in 2012, to be followed by David K. in 2015. Both Paul and David (as well as others before them) have repaired many pieces of furniture and faulty lamps for residents. Paul S. organized and led the most ambitious Woodworker project to date, involving construction of all the wooden trellises in use outside resident patio gardens. (Installation was by Galloway Ridge Maintenance staff.)

Over the years, the Woodworkers have completed an amazing array of projects, including the addition of bookcases for libraries, numerous Arbor mailboxes (outside each apartment), and frequent repair of residents’ furniture. Ron K. constructed an impressive display panel of 21 wood species in 2015, which adorns a wall in the shop to this day.

The current members of Woodworkers have continued the tradition of repair of residents’ furniture, outside projects (most recently student desks supporting remote study during the pandemic), and personal items such as tables, bed headboards, turned salad bowls, and bracelets. New Woodworkers are always welcome.