by Robert Dalheim
Woodworking Boot Camp
lives up to its name
Yes, woodworking boot camp is a real thing. And the WMIA-
sponsored program certainly lives up to its name.
Woodworking Boot Camp was a week I won’t soon forget. Sponsored by the Woodworking
Machinery Industry Association (WMIA)
and Pittsburg State University (PSU)
in Pittsburg, Kansas, the Woodworking
Boot Camp is a five-day instructional
course on secondary wood processing
fundamentals for sales professionals,
managers, product managers and executives.
The camp serves to give members of
sales, marketing, and executive staff a
better understanding of the woodworking industry’s manufacturing process.
But students don’t sit idly in lectures
- though there are plenty of classroom
hours during the 50-hour workshop.
In addition to providing an overview of
the wood processing industry, the camp
brought myself and 15 other students
into the PSU wood lab, where we sawed,
cut, sanded, joined and finished wood
components that embodied the moves of
a casegoods producer.
“We wanted manufacturers to see the
entire process, and how what they do
affects the other areas of manufacture,”
says Doug Hague, assistant professor at
PSU and director of the camp. The pro-
gram was devised, says Hague, as thanks
to the many industry suppliers that have
generously supported PSU’s wood skills
and industry knowledge with a hands-on
approach to several fundamental wood
processing applications and machines.
The $1,950 cost for WMIA members
and $2,400 cost for non-members bought
five nights stay at a hotel, ten meals (two
per day), a course resource book, materi-
als to build a table and cabinet, and the
experience of a lifetime.
I had very little woodworking training
before the camp – having taken just one
measly woodshop class in middle school.
I was worried I would feel out of place.
But my fears were quickly overcome.
I soon learned that many of the 15 other
guys were just as clueless as I was.
“The students will be experts in some
areas, but they might not know as much
in others,” said Hague. “Another goal is
to make them aware of how every process
affects the manufacturing flow or out-
come of a project.”
The camp is a 50/50 mix of class time
and lab time, typically beginning with a
lecture before moving into the wood lab
for further instruction.
Beginning at 7 am each morning and
getting back to our rooms at around
7: 30 pm, the program certainly put me
to the test. Over four-and-a-half days,
we all built our own mahogany coffee
table with a diamond-matched veneer
top, and a small cabinet. Condensing
PSU’s four-year wood education program
into a week-long course, we learned
how to operate the lab’s woodworking
machinery, AutoCAD, CAM software,
primary processing, finishing, veneering, cabinetry, tooling, millwork, wood