Woodworking Team Building Events

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Forum topic by Warren posted 12-31-2019 10:21 AM 804 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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77 posts in 4738 days

12-31-2019 10:21 AM

Hi folks,

I run a coworking space for woodworkers in Spain and we get quiet a few requests from companies who are interested in doing team building events at our space. These are really interesting as they pay well for what is essentially a days work. We have done projects that involve making wall art with off-cuts and this type of thing but we would like to start offering a project that enables companies to actually make a piece of furniture that they can then place in their office after the event. We are thinking of things like conference tables or chairs, anything that is going to be remembered each time they use it. I would love any suggestions on what projects we can offer under the following restrictions:

1) The project must provide activity for 20-30 people
2) A 3-8 hour duration
3) No unsupervised use of heavy equipment (like jointers, thicknessers, table saws) Although stock can be prepared ahead of time.
4) Needs to be completed by the end of the day. So long glue ups are a problem.

Our workshop has a full range of festool gear and every hand tool you might want to use as well as a range of Felder machines too. We have 10 workbenches, “enough” clamps and plenty of space!

So my question is; what could they build?

-- Im more succesfull at making sawdust than I am at making furniture

10 replies so far

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


3220 posts in 1006 days

#1 posted 12-31-2019 02:28 PM

Where in Spain are you located? I am in Majorca.

Cool idea.

Off the top of my head:
Floating shelves, with french cleats; fairly simple.
Shelving systems
Foot stools
Coffee tables
Mirror frames

-- WWBBJ: the first to compare a woman´s cheek to a rose was a poet. The second, an idiot. Dali

View SMP's profile


5311 posts in 1364 days

#2 posted 12-31-2019 02:54 PM

Maybe some kind of valet/desk organizer? Cutting boards are a good project for that short amount of time, but i doubt any business needs 30 cutting boards.

View CaptainKlutz's profile (online now)


5610 posts in 2953 days

#3 posted 12-31-2019 03:21 PM

Furniture for business as team building project? Hmm.

- Furniture is one time investment for any company. Companies buy it when the move into a new space, and only buy for replacement or expansion; so they won’t want to wait for a dozen team building classes to outfit the conference rooms or new employees desks? What do the next dozen classes build?

- Furniture style/color are selected by company to provide a standard look and feel. This provides an appealing place to work for employees, and sense of long term stability to customers. Wood furniture is best done when each is unique, with each piece offering a different personality. This is counter to corporate cookie cutter approach to office space, as anytime someone gets something bigger/better; it creates hard feelings to those that didn’t get the cool looking piece in their office.

- Having each team building class build the same ugly desk design would be boring, and doesn’t teach that team building includes integrating creativity into office problem solving. Fail to see how a furniture building project is anything other than company sending employee’s to labor camp, where the company gets dusty, dirty manual labor building cheap furniture from the participants? Furthermore, no one wants to use the wobbly desk with uneven legs made by the folks in accounting, or the desk that looks good but drawers don’t work made by marketing. LOL

- Wood office furniture was dropped nearly a century ago for more durable and modular metal monstrosities used today. Attempting to compete in this space to make tables/desks would require some significant engineering design resources to get right. Making durable office chairs entirely from wood is a recipe for disaster, and never ending repairs. Why would any company want to return to using wood furniture?

Last but not least: Have built a couple high end slab wood conference tables for executive conference rooms. They were a PIA as each executive (or their wife) had a unique design goal that changed as project unfolded. Most time they have no clue on how to get best look from the natural beauty of wood, or wanted $10,000 giant slab of bubinga desecrated with hidden outlets and Ethernet ports in middle. The best and worst part of making executive conference room tables, is never made more than ONE for each headquarters or regional office.

In Summary: I fail to understand how building furniture for any office would contribute to a team building training? I am sure there are some good reasons, but I see a lot more negative reasons that fight against any success. Sorry to be overly negative, so let me offer some more positive ideas?

My suggestion would be to blend team building aspect into some sort of corporate charity or good will to those in need. You want to produce an end product that has large market need, and helps everyone contributing feel good about the manual labor. Might consider making dog houses for local pet shelter, or kids toys for underprivileged; as some examples?
Setting up an temporary assembly line to make hundred’s of wood toys in a day would do much better job of showing what happens when everyone works together, no matter how small of a part they had in the process.
If you want the product to stay with company/person, then make a pencil box, pencil holder, or picture frame for their desk as the reminder of the need to work together. Pencil holders, picture frames, and/or maybe cell phone charging stations; are about the only universal object found on modern office desk top today? They are also easy to make quickly.

Have had a lot of team building exercises in my career?
My personal favorite team building class many decades ago was when they sent all the electrical engineers to a metal foundry. We learned to work on design as team, also learned about die casting to help us make better choices on heat sinks for power electronics; plus we took home a coffee cup/beer stein/pencil holder with custom logo we designed as souvenir. About once a month many of used the beer stein to wash away the ugly taste of corporate life in a cubicle. Still use the stein even today in retirement. :)

Thanks for reading my thoughts.
Best luck finding juicy fruit to squeeze from the corporate training money tree.

-- If it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have no luck at all, Doom, despair, agony on me… - Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign released 1967

View MPython's profile


428 posts in 1271 days

#4 posted 12-31-2019 03:47 PM

One of the most fun team building events I’ve ever seen was a build-a-boat competition. The competing teams had four to six members. Each team was provided with identical plans for a simple plywood dinghy, enough materials and supplies to make the dinghy and the necessary tools. No stationary machinery was used, only hand tools and hand held power tools. The objective was to construct a “seaworthy” dinghy as quickly as possible. Each team was given a roped-off space in a large outdoor tent in which two work. When the teams completed their dinghy they had to paddle it across the nearby river and back – about 100 meters total – before it sank. The team that successfully completed the exercise first won. It was great fun to watch and, I’m sure, even greater fun as a participant. As I recall, the competition lasted about 6 hours, with the winning team crossing the finish line in about 4 1/2 hours.

View wildwoodbybrianjohns's profile


3220 posts in 1006 days

#5 posted 12-31-2019 05:02 PM

Might be fun???

-- WWBBJ: the first to compare a woman´s cheek to a rose was a poet. The second, an idiot. Dali

View Warren 's profile


77 posts in 4738 days

#6 posted 01-04-2020 10:02 AM

Thanks for your input everyone. All of you offer good ideas and useful insight. Much appreciated

-- Im more succesfull at making sawdust than I am at making furniture

View Jack Lewis's profile

Jack Lewis

576 posts in 2537 days

#7 posted 01-04-2020 03:10 PM

A perfect example. Get the team at LJ, working together to solve the question. And you didn’t have to pay salaries for the advise. WIN-WIN

-- "PLUMBER'S BUTT! Get over it, everybody has one"

View JackDuren's profile


1858 posts in 2418 days

#8 posted 01-04-2020 03:30 PM

That’s would be fun. Conference tables was my thing. This table 5×12 from 16/4 quarter sawn walnut. Has a fabric insert with an electrical panel that pops up… I enjoyed building it. All the same tree….

Do a lot of cradenza work….

View Lazyman's profile (online now)


9600 posts in 2846 days

#9 posted 01-04-2020 03:39 PM

Perhaps look for a charity that could use some wood toys for needy kids.

As for something that they can take back to their office: pencil cups, drawer caddies, business card holders, etc. If you have enough wood burning tools, you could make name plates for their desks.

There are some pretty cool wood table lamps out there, if you want to mess with buying the socket/wiring kits.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

View Davevand's profile


337 posts in 2295 days

#10 posted 01-04-2020 05:22 PM

Bird houses or bat houses. Simple and a good for nature and the environment. Win/win

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