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Woodchips - How the Club Began

Gene Choquette | Published on 10/1/2022

It all started with an idea that a lady named Coco Young had back in 1987.  She mentioned to a few people that it would be great if Reno had a woodworking group where they could share ideas and help to anyone that was interested in woodworking.  A few people thought that was a great idea, and five people showed up to talk about doing just that; Coco Young, John Haynes, Bob Kerns, Gary Mann, and someone else that no one can remember.  The first meeting was at the library at Old Town Mall, and the next ones were at Round Table Pizza.  

From there it went to individual shops, and they soon realized that they needed a real meeting place and some equipment.  The Bonanza shopping center had a building that was a grocery store and had been closed for a long time, so someone in the group contacted the owner, and they let us use about 500 square feet for our meetings and some tools.  This worked out fine except when it rained, we would get wet and had to cover everything.  

Eventually the building was sold and we had to move. With no money, and a very small membership, one of our members offered his beautiful barn, and said that we could store our tools there until we could make other arrangements.  I had a big truck, so we loaded up everything and moved.  This was a difficult time as our membership was growing and we did not have much to offer.  Some members opened their shops, and that was great, but we needed something more permanent as we were meeting in vacant buildings and offices.

We finally landed the old Monogue High School that was on E. McCarran Blvd next to the river, thanks to LeRoy Arrascada.  We had a large building in back of the school, and we occupied about a third of the space, which was about 3000+ square feet.  This was awesome, the parking was real good, the rent was $100.00 a month, and we had a great place for our summer picnic.  This lasted for many years.  The main building was originally a big ranch house, and the main floor was beautiful with a huge fire place, wooden beams in the ceiling, hardwood floors, and a huge kitchen.  The grounds had volley ball and horseshoe pits, and our Christmas parties were held there.

As great as that was, the flood of 1997 did a bit of damage to us.  There was over 3 feet of water in our shop!  We had grown, and had quite a bit of equipment, however almost all of it was saved.  One of our members, Wade Cline, worked at the university, and he and his crew cleaned some of the motors which saved some of our larger machines.  

We moved into our present location in March of 2013.  After much time, labor, and discussions  spent on how we wanted the new shop to look, we managed to squeeze 3000 square feet of previous space into about 2000 or less.  We just couldn’t be as messy as we were before.  We have many people to thank for their help setting up everything at the new location.  I can only remember a few, Skip Hansen found the place, Tom Doud, Rick Barbieri, Dave Hunter and his crew did the painting,  and there were many more that helped. Victory Woodworks loaned us a truck for the move.